Jeff Abernathy

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September 7, 2011
Last June, I passed my one-year anniversary as a college president. It was an exciting year, with a major anniversary (125 years), my inauguration, an extensive alumni “welcome” tour, trips to China and Ecuador for academic program discussions, and campus-wide strategic and master planning dominating the landscape. As I contemplate this past year, I've been thinking about one particular piece of advice I heard often in my transition to the job.
September 7, 2011
Last June, I passed my one-year anniversary as a college president. It was an exciting year, with a major anniversary (125 years), my inauguration, an extensive alumni “welcome” tour, trips to China and Ecuador for academic program discussions, and campus-wide strategic and master planning dominating the landscape. As I contemplate this past year, I've been thinking about one particular piece of advice I heard often in my transition to the job.
August 25, 2011
As we begin the academic year at Alma College, we are working to re-imagine what a liberal arts education is all about. For two centuries, liberal arts colleges across our nation have provided students with a life-changing education centered on the values that will sustain them for a lifetime. They have focused on the growth of the whole person and on the development of a whole life. It worked in the 1800s. It worked in the 1900s. But does it work in the 2000s?
April 11, 2011
Last Friday, Alma held a joint celebration of our 125th anniversary and the inauguration. So many in our community contributed to an event that was a great success: turnout was terrific for an event that was full of uplift and promise, despite the challenges. We used the opportunity to feature a symposium on building community and a related workshop, signaling the importance of Alma's efforts to help Michigan thrive in the years to come.
December 9, 2010
College presidents find themselves with long lists of cares and concerns, and I was prepared for the usual list: tuition discounting, economic challenges, deferred maintenance. But Web 2.0 flirting sites? I hadn't figured to spend much time in that arena. To their credit, Alma students came to me this week with concerns over Likealittle.com.
October 29, 2010
For this English professor, one of the surprises of becoming a college president has been the extent of engagement with the athletic program. While most of the work I do is of course closely aligned with that of the academic program, I have found that it is a rare day that I'm not engaged with some aspect of Alma's athletic program. A competitive cyclist and college football fan myself, I find this work comes naturally. But I have some studying to do: it will be a while before I understand the intricacies of the rule book for women's volleyball, for example.
September 21, 2010
One doesn't grow up wanting to be a college president. Firefighter, yes. Doctor, certainly. But college president? Even the principal's kid wouldn't have thought of it. But here I am, starting out my first academic year at Alma College, a liberal arts college I've known and admired for years. For colleges and universities, presidential transitions offer a great opportunity to answer lingering questions about identity, to determine aspirations, to recall core values.
September 10, 2010
With every college president across the land seeking to find a new marketing angle that will provide an edge in enrollment, I've been lucky to land at Alma, where our team has been working hard for years to develop new ways to tell the story. I have to admit I was a bit taken aback when I first heard that we were thinking of a television commercial -- I wondered whether tv ads aren’t just for the for-profits, whom I see peddling their wares with annoying regularity -- but I was quickly won over.
August 3, 2010
When tragedy hits a close-knit community like Alma, Michigan, we all feel it. Two weeks ago, it hit hard. I was in a meeting at city hall when the call came in. A plane flying out of our local airport had gone down over Lake Michigan. In the hours that followed, the news trickled in: a mercy flight for our school superintendent who has been battling cancer departed Alma en route to the Mayo Clinic. A Chicago boater in the area pulled one man out alive. Two more were said to be in the water, with eight-foot swells. Two were unaccounted for.
July 14, 2010
Ever since the announcement of my appointment as Alma's president last February, I have been studying up on the college presidency. I've talked with friends in the job, read endless prose on the topic, heard from consultants far and wide. This week I will go with dozens of other new college presidents to the Harvard Institute for New Presidents. I'm doing my homework in advance, planning to sit in the first row. I'm hoping there won't be beanies.

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