A message from Dr. Elizabeth M. Meade
As I prepare to be formally inaugurated as the 14th president of Cedar Crest College, I’d like to share the key points of my presidential platform with you.
Student success is at the heart of Cedar Crest’s mission. We believe it is not enough simply to admit students—we need to see that every student gets the support she needs to make it across the finish line. Take Berniece Johnson, a student from Chester, Pennsylvania. Berniece is a neuroscience major who will graduate this May. Her dream is to become a doctor, and she is well on her way to achieving that goal. Throughout her time at Cedar Crest, she has participated in a number of clubs and organizations, completed research projects and internships, and presented at conferences across the country. Berniece credits her success to her own determination, but says it would not have been possible without the support system in place at Cedar Crest College.
“Not many people choose to further their education where I am from, and even in my family. I took a leap of faith and applied to college, even though I wasn’t sure if I would succeed. There were times when I felt overwhelmed, but being surrounded by a great number of successful women gives me incredible hope and faith.
Cedar Crest emphasizes the idea that education is important, but your mental, physical, and emotional health is the most important. There are many services available for students here that I am grateful for. It is my dream to be a doctor, and I am very confident that I will achieve that goal. Thanks to Cedar Crest, I was granted the opportunity to work as a medical assistant. I have been employed by my company for almost two years now and I love it. Gaining clinical experience was something I never thought I could do, but Cedar Crest made that possible through its connections to recruiters. The Student Success Center has introduced me to a lot of wonderful people who were willing to offer me opportunities to strengthen my resume. They have also guided me as I applied for wonderful opportunities and jobs, many of which I was chosen for!
I am not the same person I was when I was a freshman. Over these four short years I have grown and developed into a mature, intelligent, determined, and more structured woman. My time here at Cedar Crest was just what I needed to find myself. Aside from the academic learning, the relationships I have built here have been more than what I could have ever imagined to have. I had a tough time growing up and was separated from my biological family. The faculty, staff, and students at Cedar Crest have helped me fill that void in my life and I will be forever grateful for the time I spent here on this campus.”
-Berniece Johnson, Class of 2019
Our Academic Services team is crucial to our mission of student success, and they are making huge strides. In recent years, we have seen a 22.3 percent increase in our retention of first-year students to sophomore year (from 2013 to 2017). Our rate currently stands at 80 percent, which is nearly 20 points higher than the national average. We have invested millions of dollars in student success initiatives in recent years, including the First Year Experience and the Student Success Center. As president, I am committed to making sure all of our students have the resources they need to be successful. I want every student to feel as supported and empowered as Berniece, ready to leave Cedar Crest and take on the world.
Evolving to meet the needs of today’s students in tomorrow’s world
What sets Cedar Crest apart is its proven willingness to transform itself, to evolve to meet the developing needs of women and society. For over a century and a half, Cedar Crest College has been at the forefront of education, uniquely able to look beyond the urgencies of the moment to anticipate the needs of future generations. The visionary decision in 1867 to offer young women a three-year course of study in the liberal arts was prompted by the view that women could achieve more than society traditionally expected. Nearly 60 years later, in 1926, the College decided to become an institution for women that granted bachelor’s degrees, deliberately evolving from a “finishing school” to an institution known for preparing young women for lives of civic and professional leadership.
After our first 100 years, we opened our doors to women who had not had the opportunity to go to college right after high school, continuing our core mission to provide access to education to those otherwise denied it. Our PORTAL program transformed the lives of those first students beyond the age of 22 and their families, but it filled a need in society as well. This innovation came under the leadership of the College’s first woman president, Pauline Tompkins. This program evolved into the Office of Lifelong Learning and eventually into our thriving co-educational School of Adult and Graduate Education, which today is about half of our total student population. Now students can choose from degree options that include undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels, in disciplines such as nursing, psychology, criminal justice, forensic science, business and education.
As women have progressed toward reaching equality in our society, so has Cedar Crest progressed, becoming the institution women need at that moment in time, while always remaining true to our core mission.
Cedar Crest College is deeply committed to sustainability – both academically and environmentally. Sustainability relates to our mission to prepare our students to be citizens of a global community, while being mindful that our actions today will impact our tomorrows. We seek to become more environmentally sustainable in order to be better citizens of our shared world. But the work of sustainability expands beyond the physical environment: it also means that we do what we do today to ensure that we are healthy and vibrant community well into the next century.
Sustainability will take center stage on Wednesday, April 24 during our community Earth Day event, which is part of our weeklong Inauguration celebration. From 4:00 p.m.--6:00 p.m. there will be a number of environmental activities happening on campus, including games, arts and crafts, seed planting, and more. In an effort to cut down on waste, I am personally donating 200 Cedar Crest-branded reusable straws that will be handed out to attendees. Most of the Earth Day events are geared toward elementary-aged children, but all are welcome. On Thursday, April 25, we hope you will join us for a tree dedication ceremony at 2:00 p.m. in Hartzel Hall Grove. During the ceremony, an Autumn Blaze maple tree will be added to our beautiful arboretum. Known for its brilliant color, fast growth and resiliency during changing seasons, this maple tree mirrors the same characteristics of our own beloved Cedar Crest College.