Q&A with President Blomberg

Courtney DuChene

coduchene@ursinus.edu

Give an overview of what you thought of the school year, your high points, your low points.

It’s been a tremendous yearhere at Ursinus. Coming in as the penultimate year before our sesquicentennial, so there’s a lot of people getting excited about a lot of things. It’s nice to have the IDC up and running for a full year, and have students use it. . . That’s been really rewarding. It’s been great to see all the outcomes here in terms of student experiences. . . For me, the highlight of the year is almost always CoSA. Watching all the different kinds of ways the student express themselves. It was so cool to see again the IDC being used in thatspace . . . We’re excited in terms of the other parts of college that may not be the things students think about 24/7, things like our Comprehensive Campaign and our Keep the Promise campaign. It was great to see the level of participation . . . Participation rates for students were up to 40%, so that was pretty exciting. In general, it’s been a really productive year . . . There are always challenges. We live in a world that is not a happy place right now. If you watch some of the tragedies that I have sent messages about, what Terri Ofori has sent messages about, there’s some real rough stuff happening and we’ve had some of those hit our own community, and we’re hoping to learn from that . . . Those have been challenges, but that’s part of the world we live into day, and our hope is that people see it that way and can grow and educate each other.

How’s the Commons construction going?

I think it’s moving along really wonderfully. You’re beginning to see some of the manifestations of the completed Commons. . .Obviously, I’m impatient and I want it to be done by the first day of winter . . . Our hope is that that’s going to be something that we’ll see move forward, and a lot of exciting things happening on that corner of campus, with Marzella’s, and the Commons, and potentially other places to eat and drink. That’s a great
way to start your journey here at Ursinus. I think the larger issue of trying to create an inclusive environment, it’s going to create spreading out of social activities. Next year, when everyone gets back, it will look a lot different than it looks today.

Another big story of the year, accepted students day:

Fantastic news. Let me begin with thanking everyone in the community. So much of the college invested themselves in this. Faculty spent days in terms of some of these scholarship days that really bring students in and let students sit in on classes. The staff have been supportive of when students are around, letting students do overnights and the like, and the students that participated in admissions-related activities.

Right now, we are at 445 deposits, which puts us at the second-largest class in the last seven years … It’s either the second-highest or the highest percentage of students of color. It’s among the highest GPAs. In terms of the scholarships, there were a lot of scholarships available. The discount rate is slightly lower than it was last year. So by almost every measure, the work put into Admitted Students Day has really paid off. . . If you want to shout out to one person, I would say our new VP of Enrollment, Shannon Zottola. She’s been our VP for less than a year, and she’s gotten the largest class we’ve had in the past seven years, and she’s improved the school’s selectivity.

How did we get there?

It has to do with our new branding and marketing strategy that tries to talk about what really matters here, and a lot of that is centered around our new curriculum . . . We did a lot of focus groups, a lot of study, a lot of work into how to put this into social media and how to explain this. If you put this out there that says “new curriculum,” no student out there is going to say “oh, new curriculum, that’s why I want to go to college!” But the idea that you’re actually talking about an inquiry-based way to learn, that sounds a little bit more interesting. And when you come onto campus and meet students and faculty, I think that makes that real.

Another thing that matters, candidly speaking, is the chemistry and culture on campus. . . I think people are more optimistic about Ursinus than they have been in a long time. When students come to campus, they can feel that – is the energy here high, or is it low? I think the energy’s been really great . . . I think that there’s been a lot of investment in building relationships with high school guidance counselors and teachers and the like. I think those are the reasons why we were able to be so successful.

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