Alverno President Andrea Lee, IHM, PhD

From the President: Fall 2017

As summer hinted at its imminent departure, steps on campus quickened, new student orientations convened, and summer’s lonely parking spots suddenly filled. The humid air cooled and crackled with signs of “something’s about to happen” and, late September heat wave notwithstanding, the new academic year at Alverno was underway!

As the year moved into its familiar rhythm, I realized that everything is both the same and different; that it’s arguably the best and most challenging of times for Alverno; uncharted, yes, yet firmly planted on the solid shoulders of our mission.

Alverno’s strategic plan is approved by the Board of Trustees. Complete yet flexible, nimble and eager to reinvent itself as needs surface and opportunities manifest themselves, our plan steps boldly into a future that is changing rapidly and moves confidently into an intensely competitive environment very much seeking the strengths that Alverno offers.

A tree metaphor helps describe the plan’s central elements — trees that are alive, growing, deeply rooted in Alverno’s academic strengths and engaged in dynamic exchange with the world outside the College. There are five of these trees, each reflecting a specific planning focus: Academic Excellence and Women’s Leadership; Health Care Education; K-12 Teachers and Leaders; Behavioral and Mental Health; and the nascent School of Adult Learning and New Initiatives, centered on adult and online programs.

One important planning goal centers on Alverno’s work of the past 130 years — preparing outstanding teachers for our schools. Within Milwaukee’s unique educational environment, nothing compels the energy of committed citizens more than educating the next generations of students. We want to attract more and highly capable students to become teachers and school leaders as well as prepare them for the many challenges they will encounter.

I was in fourth or fifth grade when I knew for sure I wanted to be a teacher. Charged with watching my five younger brothers, I learned that an easy way to corral all five into being my students for a “play school” session was to bribe them with later bedtime privileges. By seventh grade, I was already teaching catechism to young children preparing for First Communion; in high school, I was an active member of the Future Teachers of America. At every age, I adored my teachers and never really considered another path.

I entered a teaching order, and so my desire to walk down the teaching path was likely to come to pass. Following several years in urban elementary classrooms, I left for graduate school, intent on being a school principal. Instead, my very first job in higher education supervising student teachers redirected that plan. Nevertheless, I’ve worked for more than 40 years in institutions that take the preparation of teachers very seriously.

Right now, with enviable passion, Alverno faculty are preparing outstanding teachers, whether they are traditional-aged undergraduate women, adults seeking to “change lanes” into a teaching career or paraprofessionals seeking to move up the ladder. At the graduate level, faculty are preparing advanced practice teachers, classroom specialists, and leaders for public, private and charter schools. At every level, faculty offer solid theory and immensely practical learning, along with deeply engaging real-life classroom internships. A best-in-class array of programs and a centerpiece of Alverno’s plan for the future!

As such, our curriculum must be zealously guarded while constantly reimagined and renewed to safeguard its integrity, relevance and sustainability. All of you Alverno teachers should be incredibly proud of your alma mater. You and our faculty are deep thinkers and creative planners who care passionately about students. So many of you are leaders in every sector of education. Whether alumna, faculty or student, I am very proud of your achievements. You should be as well.


This letter originally appeared in the fall 2017 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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