Message from the President: Spring update

April 8, 2009

Dear friends, 

The holy season of Easter will soon be upon us and we are experiencing telltale signs of spring in De Pere: a single brave boater on the Fox, daffodils trying to push their way into sunshine -- and hundreds of St. Norbert students, who returned from Spring Break just a couple of weeks ago.  

Spring Break had a little different feel to it this year for our students. For one thing, fewer actually went someplace warm. More of them -- certainly many of the ones I talked with -- stayed close to home instead and worked. And who could blame them given our interesting economic condition?

At St. Norbert College we recognize that these are extraordinary times for us all. In some way or other everyone has been affected by our anxiety-inducing markets and sputtering economy. At the college, we have responded in a variety of ways -- including an across-the-board pay freeze, as you may have read -- in order to keep student costs down and retain our employees. At the same time, offices like Career Services are busier than ever -- a resource, by the way, available to longtime alums as well as newly minted ones. (For more, see www.snc.edu/career)

In short, we are trying to be good stewards of your confidence, as well as your financial support.

And we want to thank you, because you have continued that support despite the difficult economy. A conspicuous example is that the percentage of alumni who have contributed to the college this fiscal year has increased; with a few more gifts we will get above the 20 percent mark. That’s remarkable, and especially so under the current circumstances.  

What does that support mean to St. Norbert College? Well, for one thing it’s the difference between merely “getting through” these tough times and keeping our momentum going.

That dynamism is most visible in the various construction projects I’ve talked about before in these alumni notes. But we are building in the non-bricks-and-mortar sense, too. 

On the academic side, we are in the middle of the first comprehensive review of our general-education curriculum in decades, we are revamping our Honors Program, and we are seeing outstanding faculty candidates almost daily. Our athletics program had another strong winter season; of particular note were terrific men’s and women’s basketball teams (congratulations to Coach Connie Tilley on sailing past the 500-win mark for her career!), and a track team that recently finished a best-ever eighth in the national indoor championships, led by women’s 800-meter winner Ashley Graybill. Meanwhile, on the cultural side of things, the season has seen some marvelously inventive student theatre and musical concerts, as well as the debut of the Knights on Broadway -- a reinvention of the old Swinging Knights ensemble, featuring seven talented student performers under the direction of Kent Paulson.

And there is more to come.

The dedication of the new residence hall -- to be named in honor of longtime dean of students Fr. Eugene Gries -- will be May 18. The dedication of the Mulva Library will be August 30.

And while you’re marking calendars, I have two other things that I would really love for you to experience on campus. This summer will mark our seventh Knights on the Fox outdoor concert series. More than 1,200 people gather together each Tuesday between July 14 and Aug. 11 to listen to music along the Fox River. Come by foot or by boat. Just come early to get a spot. The other event to pencil in is for Saturday, Sept. 19. That will be the First Annual St. Norbert Day, a campus “open house” that will feature games, sports, building tours, exhibits, music, food and fun for the entire family.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Tom 

P.S. If you haven’t popped online to see the additional aspects of the St. Norbert College Magazine, you really should. Visit www.snc.edu/go/magazine and check out the web extras on the right-hand side. Amazing video and photos will give you a deeper sense of what’s happening on and off campus.