The First Word

Realigning Academic Affairs

L. Jay Lemons

I am writing this as campus begins to show the first signs of fall. Our students have returned, temperatures are cooler, and across campus there is evidence of renewed energy. I love this time of year!

With the new academic year come some exciting changes in the structure of our Academic Affairs division. The realignment reflects the university’s commitment to do all that we can to ensure student success. It also is an acknowledgement that our alumni, now 15,000 strong, can help students with advice and guidance, career exploration, preparatory experiences, networking and an eventual search for employment.

Student success—achieving academic excellence and progressing toward one’s postgraduate goals—has always been vitally important to Susquehanna. Our faculty has long offered support and guidance far beyond what is typical in higher education. Those mentoring relationships, many of which lead to lifelong friendships between faculty members and their students, have been a source of great pride for Susquehanna.

The new structure for Academic Affairs is evidence of our decision to enhance even further our student-support infrastructure, allowing us to more actively guide students in discernment of a career path that will fuel their passions. The realignment integrates support units in Student Life, the Center for Academic Achievement and the newly christened Career Development Center, placing an even greater emphasis on advising for post baccalaureate fellowships, as well as for graduate and professional school admission and career development. The latter includes experiential-learning opportunities such as internships and research. I am enthusiastic about this realignment and its potential to positively impact student outcomes, while at the same time enhancing the experience of students as they are working and living among us.

Susquehanna has been cited as a national leader for its graduation rates, consistently placing among the top-performing liberal arts colleges. So our historic commitment to academic excellence and a student-centered environment is evident in our track record. Not yet satisfied, we want to further strengthen the support system that will help our students achieve their highest aspirations.

In other words, we want to prepare students even better for life after Susquehanna. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is what an increasing number of parents are expecting as they make difficult decisions about college expenses in an economy that remains uncertain.

We need our alumni to partner with us as we work to strengthen ties between them and our current students. The lived experience of our alumni has a powerful impact on students, who understand that their predecessors have walked in their shoes. Regardless of the year they left Susquehanna, our alumni, more than any other group, understand the Susquehanna way. They understand that Susquehannans are part of a proud legacy that includes those who came before them, as well as those who will come after them.

As we implement these changes that are meant to bolster student support, I have every confidence that our alumni will be there beside us, ready to extend a hand, lend an ear, offer advice, or provide an opportunity to one who came after them in that very long orange and maroon line that reaches back to our founding in 1858.

With very best wishes,

L. Jay Lemons, President

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