Dolphin Stories

Monday, August 26, 2013

Optimism and Excitement Abounds on the Heights

4:06 PM :: 6847 Views

Aug. 26, 2013

In walking across our campus today, one can feel the anticipation, excitement and enthusiasm from faculty, students and staff as they prepare for the first day of classes and the ensuing academic journey. This is one of my favorite times of year, a time of renewed dedication to our students' education and the Jesuit values to which we are so deeply committed. As I made my way to my office I observed the correlation between the feeling on our campus and the vision President Obama detailed right here in Syracuse last week.

It was an honor to join Le Moyne colleagues and students in attending President Obama’s talk and hear him passionately describe his vision for higher education. The President focused on areas crucial to making higher education accessible, innovative and affordable. As I left Henninger High School, I was consumed with a feeling of optimism and confidence in Le Moyne’s role as a model for reaching President Obama’s ambitious goals.  

As one of the best colleges in the country, we are currently involved in many programs directly linked to student access, innovation, affordability and community service.  Combined with our Jesuit tradition of educating the whole person with a strong commitment to social justice, we provide our students with a rigorous, personalized education within a talented supportive community of scholars and staff that, thanks to our substantial financial aid, is delivered at a price each family can afford.  Here at Le Moyne, we deliver the value and the outcomes the President is seeking. Some of the key initiatives we’ve led over the past year include:

  • Continuing to focus on providing low- and middle-income students with accessibility and affordability to a college education through increased scholarships and financial aid programs.
    • Presently approximately 35 percent of our incoming undergraduate students receive Pell Grants.
    • Our fund raising efforts reached record giving at the individual, corporate and capital campaign levels, providing students with additional aid opportunities and advanced learning facilities.
    • Our average aid package for new first-year students was just under $17,000, an increase of more than $2,000 over the previous cohort.
  • Creating and expansion of innovative programs for our current and prospective students:
    • This fall we introduced a new core curriculum, which is central to our Catholic and Jesuit mission of cultivating the whole person and developing students who are liberally educated, passionately curious, and actively engaged in the promotion of peace and justice in their personal and professional lives. We send forth graduates who are committed to building and serving the world in dynamic, principled and generous ways. 
    • Over the past few months, as we have for several summers, we hosted students involved with the “On Point for College” program, an innovated program founded by alum Ginny Donahue that over the past decade has helped more than 2,000 first-generation students get into college and succeed afterwards. 
    • Our investment in the Upward Bound Program continues, providing high school students with an extensive and challenging academic experience as they prepare the transition from high school to college.
    • The Summer Scholars Program offering current high school students the ability to take up to two college courses prior to graduation continues to expand. 
    • Working with Nottingham and Henninger High School, the Le Moyne College Science and Technology Program (STEP) helps to prepare historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students for college, and their pursuit of careers in math, science, technology and the health related fields. 
    • Introduction of the STRIVE program designed to prepare visually impaired young men and women in their transition from high school to college.
  • Community service at the student, faculty and staff level is an integral part of our mission and equally important to our communities and nation.
    • For the sixth consecutive year, Le Moyne College has been selected for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The honor roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary, innovative, and effective community service programs. Special emphasis this year was on recognizing service that helps youth from disadvantaged circumstances graduate from high school and prepare for college.
    • This past weekend, as part of their orientation activities, our entire freshman class spent the day helping to clean and revitalize public areas within the city of Syracuse.
  • Preliminary data from our “one-year later” survey for members of the class of 2012 indicated that 91 percent of respondents are either employed or were accepted into grad school. Among those who are employed, 93 percent had a job within nine months of graduation and 40 percent accepted a job prior to graduating. Of respondents who went onto graduate school, 75 percent were enrolled full time.

Having President Obama here in Syracuse was a special moment for our community.  His arguing for the critical importance of higher education for our nation was music to my ears.  The fact that we already model much of what the President is calling for should make us all proud. This is a very exciting moment in our history.  Time for the semester to begin!


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.



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