Dean of STEAM Prospectus
Guided by Franciscan values and the ideal of “knowledge joined with love,” and rooted in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions, Alvernia University is a rigorous, caring, and inclusive learning community committed to academic excellence and to being and fostering broadly educated, life-long learners; reflective professionals and engaged citizens; and ethical leaders with moral courage.
Alvernia University, a private Franciscan institution rooted in the tradition of Catholic higher education and located in Reading, Pennsylvania, combines a liberal arts foundation with a broad range of academic and professional programs. With an enrollment of 3,000 undergraduate, graduate, and adult students, Alvernia creates a learning environment that is meant to be formative and transformative, committed to service and ethical leadership and to doing well and doing good. Combining the personal touch and attention of a small private college with the opportunities of an outstanding university, Alvernia is thriving and poised for continued growth.
As one of only 22 Franciscan institutions in the United States, Alvernia’s values-based learning philosophy is guided by the ideal of “knowledge joined with love” that shapes our educational philosophy and strong campus community. Our emphasis on developing the next generation of ethical leaders with moral courage is blended with a commitment to our regional community that encourages all students to engage in community service as a part of their education.
Our Commitment to Diversity
Alvernia University is committed to creating and maintaining a workplace in which all employees have an opportunity to participate and contribute to the success of the business and are valued for their skills, experience, and unique perspectives. This commitment is embodied in university policies, and how we do business at Alvernia University is an important principle of sound business management.
There are four academic colleges of Alvernia University: The College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (CHESS), the College of Health Sciences (CHS), the College of Business, Communications and Leadership (CBCL), and the College of Science, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM). Though generally similar, each college has its characteristics and needs, which result from its distinctive nature and the direction of its interests and activities. As a result of these unique needs, each division’s leadership is determined by mutual agreement between its division faculty and the provost. The dean and department chairpersons exercise the leadership of each college. The Dean is an academic leader with academic, programmatic, managerial, and fiscal responsibility to their college. The administrative duties of each department are delegated to a department chair. All College Deans must have a terminal degree and have attained the rank of tenured Associate Professor. The College Dean is responsible to the provost for the unit's leadership and general management. The Dean is a full-time administrator with faculty status without voting rights in the faculty governance process.
• Promote Franciscan ideals and adherence to the Mission of the University as demonstrated by the University's Ideal Characteristics. As we are an equal opportunity employer committed to Franciscan values, all employees share responsibility for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the performance of their roles while demonstrating service orientation, respect for all, intellectual curiosity, solution focus and innovation, and mutual accountability.
• Leads the unit to meet the goals and objectives of the institution's strategic plan and academic priorities.
• Responsible for the ethical conduct of research and establishing and maintaining a culture of compliance and integrity amongst faculty, staff, and students.
• Prioritizes and manages college/school resources, including developing and monitoring budgets, physical facilities, and class schedules.
• Ensures educational quality through curriculum development and review following state and national standards.
• Ensures departmental level and academic planning congruent with institutional priorities.
• Develops and adapts academic programs to meet educational, professional, and community needs.
• Oversees faculty and staff recruitment, professional development, and evaluation.
• Facilitates mentoring of new faculty and oversees the 3rd and 5th-year review and tenure processes.
• Develops processes and maintains reports for planning, assessment, and accreditation.
• Represents the institution at various functions.
• Represents academic college at Open Houses, Transfer Days, and Admissions Events, as needed.
• The facilitating link between department chairs, faculty members, staff, students, and senior leadership.
• All activities and roles of the deans are undertaken in light of furthering the best interests of the students of Alvernia University and the communities they serve.
• Commitment to the mission statement, core values, and goals of Alvernia University.
• All College Deans must have a terminal degree.
• Attained the rank of a tenured Associate Professor.
• Based on performance reviews, Deans are appointed for renewable five-year terms.
• Those hired from outside Alvernia University do not earn tenure as a result of their role as Dean.
Personal Qualities & Leadership Skills:
• Passion for the value and opportunities inherent in contemporary Catholic higher education and an unwavering commitment to the University’s Franciscan mission and values.
• The Dean must actively and effectively advocate for all STEAM students and programs within and outside the institution.
• Ability to articulate the relevance of that value and those opportunities to the Board of Trustees, faculty, and staff members who must address them.
• Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; the ability to serve as a key ambassador and advocate for the University to a broad range of internal and external constituencies.
• Highly collaborative, communicative, transparent, and visionary leader who fosters team building and demonstrates a commitment to the importance of community.
• Ability to serve as a strategic thought partner to advance its mission to serve students and the larger community.
• Ability to work with diverse constituencies with differing opinions and build consensus toward shared academic goals.
• Accomplished problem solver and decision maker skilled at gathering input and building consensus through open, respectful, and empathetic discourse to identify the ideas and opportunities that best serve the Alvernia community.
• Record of promoting undergraduate research, supporting faculty research agendas, and balancing teaching and research demands.
• A transformational, inclusive, collaborative, and equitable approach to leadership that is inspiring to others.
• Passionate about student success with demonstrated success in leading student-centered initiatives that enhance the entirety of the student experience.
• Personable, approachable, and accessible to staff, faculty, and students; demonstrates a high level of enthusiasm and energy in the work of higher education; and
• Exhibits transparency and personal integrity, with a sense of humility and a sense of humor.
Alvernia University offers more than fifty fields of study in liberal arts and professional programs, including eight master’s and three doctoral degree programs, multiple leadership offerings, and substantive experiential opportunities.
Having celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018, Alvernia supports a rigorous and caring learning community that is welcoming to about 2,500 students who hail from diverse geographical, cultural, and religious backgrounds. They benefit from faculty who are accomplished scholars and supportive mentors; there are 125 full-time faculty members, 77% of whom hold the highest degrees in their fields.
Alvernia students also enjoy the personal attention afforded by small class sizes (there is a 12:1 student-faculty ratio, and the average class size is less than 20 students) and experiential application of their studies via an extensive network of field and clinical experiences, internships, and service projects that develop successful professionals and engaged citizens.
In 2021, Alvernia University restructured its academic programs by establishing a four-college model: the College of Business, Communication & Leadership, the College of Health Sciences, the College of Humanities, Education & Social Sciences, and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics (STEAM). The academic reorganization was undertaken to facilitate the institution’s innovative and agile ability to identify new opportunities to serve its students effectively and extend its impact in the region. To ensure greater coherence and collaboration among the programs and ease the transition among programs for students, graduate and adult education programs became housed within their respective colleges rather than in a separate School of Graduate and Adult Education.
In 2022, Alvernia earned the Professional/Doctoral University designation by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, reflecting the university’s strategic direction and continued progress toward becoming a comprehensive regional university. That same year, Alvernia also earned the 2022 Best National University designation by U.S. News and World Report. The university was also listed among the 2022-2023 National Colleges of Distinction for its commitment to engaged, experiential education. It also earned the Catholic College of Distinction and Pennsylvania College of Distinction awards. Finally, Alvernia achieved Military Friendly® status for the tenth consecutive year in a row and was recognized as a Voter Friendly Campus for the third consecutive year in a row.
Alvernia's newest academic programs are mechanical, Electrical, and Industrial Engineering and the Physician Associate programs. These programs began in earnest in 2019 and 2021 to respond to the growing need for engineers and healthcare providers in Berks County and surrounding communities.
In addition to the main campus and the two CollegeTowne locations, Alvernia University offers courses at its Philadelphia and Schuylkill community-based campuses and serves partners in the community at off-site locations such as the Reading Hospital, First Energy Corporation, Penske, and the Caron Treatment Centers.
An Outstanding Faculty
Alvernia’s 125 full-time faculty, of whom 68% are tenured or tenure-track, are accomplished scholars and supportive mentors deeply committed to their student’s success. Outside the classroom, they regularly publish, present at national and international conferences, and serve as experts in the news media. An increasing number of faculty are actively involved in directing Student Undergraduate Research Fellows in a well-funded summer program.
Committed to academic rigor and excellence as engaged members of the Alvernia and local communities, they are, most importantly, educators. They are deeply passionate about student success, both inside and outside the classroom, and devote the time necessary to ensure that each student has the knowledge and skills needed for professional and personal success. Alvernia alumni credit outstanding faculty, along with internship and research opportunities, as key to their success.
The Alvernia University Faculty Council shall be the formal body representing the faculty of Alvernia University. It shall serve as a forum for the faculty to address concerns and discuss issues of importance to the faculty, the faculty’s responsibilities, and the university. It shall support the mission of Alvernia University and further the goals of Alvernia University by its dedication to the ideals of higher education.
In addition, the Faculty Council develops and articulates policies for approval by administration and the Board of Trustees and establishes procedures for the operation of committees and other organizations under its purview. Faculty may also serve on ad-hoc committees and task forces.
A Student Focus
Alvernia University takes great pride in offering life-changing educational opportunities to students from all backgrounds. We believe first-generation students and those from underserved populations can equally excel academically and succeed in their chosen career path. In recognition of Alvernia’s efforts to provide opportunities and pathways to these students, the university recently earned recognition as a “Strive Five” institution by the education nonprofit Strive for College.
In addition, the university highly values the transformational impact it has on students who, upon graduation, go out into the world and make a positive difference in professions, communities, and the lives of others. Many students successfully balance work and significant economic challenges in earning their college degree. Our mission compels this direction, a commitment rooted in the legacy of the school’s foundresses, the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters.
Accordingly, Alvernia has made it a priority to impact the Berks County community in which we are located. Our success in community involvement and engagement was nationally recognized by the Carnegie Foundation, which presented Alvernia with its coveted Community Engagement classification. The university is regularly named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education for its achievement in community service.
New programs and community initiatives launched by the Holleran Center for Community Engagement and the O'Pake Institute for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development build on existing efforts in civic engagement, ethics, economic development, and leadership. The centers serve as incubators for innovation, expanded faculty and student collaboration, and experiential learning in a distinctive Franciscan tradition.
Finally, Alvernia is expanding and refining its online presence to allow graduate, adult undergraduate, and traditional undergraduate students the flexibility to attend classes in online, face-to-face, or hybrid modalities. The university is also expanding its community partnerships to help employees at local businesses upskill and reskill for career advancement. This greater emphasis on educational partnerships was solidified with the 2021 hiring of the Executive Director for Business and Partnership Development, who focuses on working with local businesses to determine their needs and match those needs to our educational offerings.
Grounded in the Franciscan values of service, contemplation, humility, collegiality, and peacemaking, Alvernia offers a campus environment that provides students with the ideal setting to grow and develop. The focus on caring for each other, the environment, and the community are joined with a challenging educational experience to provide an unparalleled environment to grow, develop, and mature as a person and a professional.
• U.S. News & World Report Nationally Ranked Doctoral University: Alvernia earned the 2022 Best National University designation by U.S. News and World Report for the first time after its new doctoral classification by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. This marks the fourth consecutive year that Alvernia is among the colleges and universities in the top tier of its designation. Additionally, Alvernia was ranked 140 out of 476 in the social mobility indicator, which measures the graduation rate of Pell Grant recipients.
• Alvernia has been recognized as a College of Distinction for its commitment to engaged, experiential education. Listed as a 2022/23 National College of Distinction, Alvernia was noted as a Catholic College of Distinction and a Pennsylvania College of Distinction.
• Alvernia earned recognition for providing opportunities and pathways to success for low-income and first-generation college students by being tagged as a “Strive for Five” institution by the education non-profit Strive for College. Alvernia earned distinctive honors in the categories of inclusion, completion, and outcomes, which are a set of data-based benchmarks that demonstrate a commitment to students from underrepresented backgrounds, and received a customized badge to highlight their dedication to student opportunity and success.
• Alvernia achieved the 2021 Campus Prevention Network Seal of PreventionTM for exemplary efforts toward student safety, well-being, and inclusion through online prevention programs. Fewer than 15% of US institutions have earned this distinction in 2021.
• Alvernia was awarded a Colleges of Distinction’s Career Development Badge for 2022-23 for providing exceptional support during every stage of students’ college experience. Alvernia’s Office of Career Development gives students the support they need to explore their career field and begin job applications.
For a more complete list, please visit Alvernia’s Rankings & Facts webpage.
The Alvernia Advantage
Alvernia University’s student-centric Strategic Plan, The Alvernia Advantage, is designed to lead the way in modernizing the regional university. It embraces education that puts students and outcomes at the center, strategically aligning human and financial resources to meet student needs and institutional goals, sustaining a strong liberal arts core education, and making innovative moves to modernize the University’s model of higher education.
A centerpiece of the plan, Reading CollegeTowne embodies the student-centered, entrepreneurial direction for Alvernia, with a strong focus on experiential learning. As part of the transition to the new model, Alvernia conducted a strategic review of all academic, co-curricular, and administrative aspects of the University and realigned programs, positions, and operations to meet students’ needs directly. Alvernia is also launching new high-demand programs, including engineering, expanding health sciences programs, and launching an Esports program, as well as renewing and expanding others, such as business, communications, and nursing, all with a focus on experiential learning. Likewise, the plan calls for reviewing and eliminating other programs that are no longer desirable in the marketplace.
Located on 121 scenic acres in a quiet residential neighborhood, Alvernia’s beautiful main campus is a significant source of pride for the campus community. The campus includes six academic buildings, eight residence halls, the Franco Library Learning Center, the recently renovated Francis Hall & Welcome Center, Campus Commons, Student Center, and athletic fields. In addition, the Motherhouse of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, which includes the Sacred Heart Chapel and McGlinn Conference Center, is an integral part of the campus and the life of the Alvernia community. The Conference Center has become a favorite location for numerous lectures, programs, and community events.
Alvernia’s CollegeTowne is a strategy and model for championing economic redevelopment in downtown Reading in ways that advance the College’s mission. Through partnerships and collaborations with the City of Reading and local businesses and organizations, Alvernia is a strategic enabler in strengthening the local economy and a key leader in reviving engagement and energy in downtown Reading.
The first phase of Reading CollegeTowne is complete. The John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne, the University’s beautifully renovated 260,000-square-foot building in the city’s center, opened in the fall of 2021 as the home of houses administrative offices; the O’Pake Institute; the College of Business, Communication, and Leadership; the engineering program; and the Esports program. This phase has helped spur economic revitalization via the O’Pake Institute’s Spark Business Incubator, allowing local entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.
It supports faculty and student interaction with its state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, production and editing facilities, and faculty offices. It also serves as a student residence hall, bringing student life directly into the heart of downtown Reading. In addition, Reading CollegeTowne is the home of Alvernia’s O’Pake
Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, where students and faculty will work in teams as consultants serving local and regional businesses.
The Physician Associate and nursing programs will move to CollegeTowne during its second phase, which also includes turning an adjacent downtown property into a pro bono clinic for the community. Students from all health science programs will improve the health of the local community by doing some clinical rotations and experiential learning at the clinic.
Alvernia’s expansion of the CollegeTowne initiative, Pottsville CollegeTowne, opened in January of 2023. Pottsville CollegeTowne is located in downtown Pottsville, which is the economic center of Schuylkill County. It spans 17,000 square feet of high-quality and high-tech academic community-based space. The academic spaces feature will house labs for the dual-enrollment nursing program in partnership with Pottsville’s Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing, as well as other classrooms and staff/faculty offices, a modern wet lab, a state-of-the-art computer lab featuring Bloomberg Terminals, and an O’Pake Institute office.
Pottsville CollegeTowne also includes an interfaith room, community conference rooms, and an open entryway featuring an inviting and professional lounge area for students, faculty, and community guests. The remaining space in the building is being repurposed by the university through strategic regional partnerships as the institution seeks to expand and enhance its service to the community.
The O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship
The O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, the lynchpin in Alvernia’s partnership with the City of Reading, develops transformational experiences for students while contributing to economic growth and business development throughout Reading, Berks County, and the region. The O’Pake Institute celebrates the Catholic and Franciscan traditions and plays a pivotal role in educating students for participation in a global economy.
Through Reading CollegeTowne, the O’Pake Institute continues its mission of transformation. The institute serves as a catalyst for educational and business expansion, including a student-centered business incubator in downtown Reading.
Key to the success of the business incubator is the O’Pake Fellows Program. High-achieving undergraduate and graduate student teams will be joined by faculty researchers and industry leaders in partnering with local businesses. The goal of the Institute and the O'Pake Fellows Program is to serve as a catalyst for developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Reading and Berks County area.
Specific institutional resources linked directly to community engagement include:
The Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement
Founded in 2006, the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement identifies, cultivates, and sustains strategic partnerships to strengthen both campus and community. Programs run through the Holleran Center include but are not limited to:
• The Foster Grandparent Program helps children in the community develop the academic and life skills critical to their development and future success, including learning to read, school readiness, and decision-making.
• Bog Turtle Creek Farm is a student-managed farm designed to make fresh produce available to families in the City of Reading, including those who utilize government programs such as WIC and SNAP to purchase food.
• The South Reading Youth Initiative promotes continued education, mentoring, and support for healthy choices to children who live or go to school in the South Reading area through summer camps, after-school mentoring, and cultural events.
• Coordination of Service-Learning Courses, volunteer opportunities with community partners, and the 40-hour community service graduation requirement.
The Reading Collegiate Scholars Program
The Reading Collegiate Scholars Program was established in 2014 to increase high school graduation and college attendance rates for students living in Reading while ensuring the success of Reading students enrolled at Alvernia University. Each year, through the generous support of donors, ten Reading High School students are offered a full tuition, eight-semester scholarship to attend Alvernia University. Through the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement, Alvernia University work-study students mentor and tutor Reading High School students in grades 9 through 12 and assist them in the college search and application process. In 2019, the program was extended to graduates of Reading Area Community College (RACC).
In order to support online and on-ground students at all campuses, Alvernia faculty and staff have embraced the One Alvernia concept. The One Alvernia model encourages faculty and staff to work to make their resources and services equally accessible across all campuses and to provide an equal level of support to students regardless of the type of student or learning modality. Although we are separated by distance, everyone at Alvernia is a member of our larger community, and no one should feel excluded or be at an educational disadvantage simply because they are not taking classes at our main Reading campus.
Alvernia’s main campus is located three miles from downtown Reading in historic Berks County, Pennsylvania, with additional sites in Philadelphia and Pottsville. As home to approximately 90,000, Reading is the fifth-largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Berks County has a population of approximately 415,000. The area combines a rich farm country, industry, beautiful parks, entertainment, and top-notch educational institutions.
Reading offers a mix of cultural and entertainment destinations, including the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, the Reading Public Museum, the Santander Performing Arts Center, and the Santander Arena. In addition, the beautiful Blue Marsh Lake, Bear Creek Mountain ski resort, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, French Creek State Park, and numerous golf courses offer myriad outdoor activities and opportunities.
Reading is a 90-minute drive from Philadelphia, two hours from New York City and Baltimore, and three hours from Washington, DC. It is less than an hour from both Harrisburg International Airport and the Lehigh Valley International Airport.
Dr. Glynis Fitzgerald is the eighth President of Alvernia University, beginning in July of 2023. She joined Alvernia as Senior Vice President and Provost in 2019. Over the past four years, she has led the extensive process resulting in the academic reorganization and has been actively engaged in the planning and implementation of the reorganization of the academic colleges, the Alvernia Advantage strategic plan, the CollegeTowne initiative, and the design and implementation of new academic programs in Engineering and Physician Associate.
Prior to her appointment at Alvernia, Dr. Fitzgerald served as associate vice president of Academic Affairs and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Central Connecticut State University. In addition to her experience in both undergraduate and graduate program development, she has expanded online learning options and community and corporate partnerships in her previous work.
Dr. Fitzgerald earned her doctoral degree in organizational/interpersonal communication and a master’s degree in organizational communication from SUNY Buffalo. Her undergraduate degree was from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in speech communication.
The Search Committee will begin to review applications immediately. To assure full consideration, applications should be received by September 11, 2023, and must include the following:
• A letter of interest that addresses your suitability for the position profile.
• A curriculum vitae; and
• Three professional references with email addresses and telephone numbers, including their relationship to the candidate. References will not be contacted without prior authorization from the candidate.
Applications should be sent via the ADP portal. PDF format is preferred. Please direct nominations and inquiries to Johnson Eapen, Associate Vice President of Human Resources. Johnson.firstname.lastname@example.org.