A compendium of messages from or regarding President Robyn Hannigan to the Ursinus community.
November 18, 2022
Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
With the holiday season upon us, I want to take a moment to thank everyone for all you do to support our community. I know that you’re looking forward to spending time with family and loved ones in the days and weeks ahead, as am I, and I’ll do so while looking back on this first semester as your president, proud of what we’ve already achieved.
I invite you to watch a short video from me at https://go.ursinus.edu/Gratitude, and since we all have places to go and things to do in preparation for the next few days, I’m closing the college beginning at noon on Wednesday, November 23. I hope these extra few hours allow you to spend more time with your families.
Finally, let’s officially end the fall semester and head into winter break by leaving work behind for a couple of hours and enjoying the spirit of the season with colleagues. Our official holiday party for all employees will be held on Tuesday, December 20, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in Upper Wismer. Please register for it in advance https://go.ursinus.edu/HolidayParty2022. For all to join in the celebration, the college will close at the start of the party and will remain closed until Wednesday, January 4.
Thank you again, Bears, for showing me the power of One Ursinus!
President Robyn Hannigan
November 7, 2022
Dear Ursinus Community,
Tomorrow is an important day for our country. I hope those of you who are registered will join millions of Americans who are exercising their right to cast a vote on Election Day.
In the Commonwealth and across the United States, elections and the associated politics can be polarizing. Here at Ursinus College we are fortunate to share a community that celebrates diverse perspectives and a culture that embraces difference. Our shared values echo through the curriculum and resonate across our collective experience. Realizing that not everyone is so fortunate, as we turn our attention to tomorrow and the following days, please remember to stay true to those values, respect the opinions of others, participate in thoughtful dialogue, and remember that we are One Ursinus!
I remain impressed with the inclusive manner the college has supported efforts to encourage participation in a living democracy. Students in the “Ursinus Votes” club logged more than 70 volunteer hours over 40 total days to register new voters on campus, far exceeding other colleges in the region. Check out that story at https://ursinus.edu/news, and visit the UCARE website for additional voting information and resources.
Ursinus is again providing space as a community polling location this year, in the Schellhase Commons from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Not only should students use this location, but members of the larger Collegeville community will be on campus throughout the day. If you’re near the polls, even if just grabbing a coffee at Starbucks, please be sure to give a true Bear welcome to visitors.
Thank you, Bears, for continuing to support the college community and democracy. Now, be sure to get out there and vote!
President Robyn Hannigan
July 1, 2022
Dear Ursinus Community,
Over the past several months, you have provided my family and me with the warmest, most sincere welcome—one that immediately made us feel right at home here in Collegeville. For that, I wholeheartedly thank you. It fills me with so much pride to be able to return the embrace and write to you today for the first time as your 19th president.
I am very excited—check that—“wicked” excited to get started and begin building on Ursinus’s long-standing legacy and tradition alongside each of you. I can’t emphasize that enough: This will be a collaborative effort to author our next chapter and create a resilient, thriving, and sustainable future not only for our college, but for Ursinus’s surrounding community and our planet (it is our home, after all).
About a year ago, the Ursinus presidency wasn’t on my radar. I had heard of Ursinus, of course—our reputation as a national leader in the liberal arts, the undergraduate transdisciplinary research opportunities, CIE, and Quest go hand-in-hand with our unique name—but I never dreamed that I’d have the opportunity to lead this storied institution. Since that time, I’ve learned so much from you about what makes this college great, and it’s clear to me that our Bears play an integral role in our success. I’ve been impressed by how committed you are to Ursinus. So, let’s keep it going.
I plan to incorporate the knowledge I have already gained from you into building a strategic vision for the college that is creative, forward-thinking, and rooted in Every Student’s Success. There will be countless opportunities for us to connect, and that communication will be a two-way street. While I’ll be providing updates to you about Ursinus, I want to hear from you often. For our students, faculty, and staff, I’ll be scheduling a series of informal in-person “In the Den” meetings—open conversations about important topics such as wellness, inclusion, and strategic planning. Throughout the summer, I’ll also host breakfast chats, giving us a chance to better know one another. Faculty and staff can sign up for one of the summertime breakfast meetings at https://ursinus.edu/BreakfastWithRobyn by clicking on one of the dates on the left side of the page.
Our alumni, parents, community partners, and friends will be included in my quarterly “Musings” email, in which I’ll explore subject matter impacting the education landscape. And you can expect regular outreach from me throughout the academic year, including communications promoting campus developments and board summaries. I’m looking forward to keeping the conversation going.
Thank you, Bears, for all that you have done to make my family and me feel so welcome. From the moment I came to campus for the first time, I could feel how special Ursinus truly is, and I can’t wait to engage with each of you.
President Robyn Hannigan
A series of musings from President Hannigan on contemporary topics that transcend higher education in which she offers thoughts and opinions to the Ursinus family and our surrounding community.
Marginalia: Rewriting the Script on Normalcy
February 9, 2023
My name reverberated across campus one day at the beginning of the fall semester. I was walking from my house to my office in Corson Hall and it caught my attention because I wasn’t expecting to hear such a resounding proclamation in the quiet of campus so early in the day.
Wait a minute, I thought, That student is calling to me! I couldn’t help but smile and share in the excitement of becoming part of a community.
It’s been nearly a year since my first official introduction to Ursinus, but that day in August was one I like to recount because of what it symbolizes to me: the power of connecting with others. It made me reflect on my own experience as a first-generation student, and how it felt trying to find a sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging when I got to college. And I loved what that moment said about Ursinus; the comfort the student felt in calling out my first name—nothing formal, nothing rehearsed. I felt like I belonged.
So, what makes us fit in with a community? Many of us are at Ursinus for the same things: academic interests, professional development, and extracurricular activities, to name some. But there is always something deeper than that for each of us, right? We don’t have to conform to those commonalities to be part of the same community. Our passions and our differences are also our strengths. I like to know what really gets a person going and to unpack that, it starts with a conversation.
Doesn’t that kind of get lost in the shuffle these days? There have been endless studies and articles about a disturbing lack of human connection in a technologically driven world, and one thing that has always been important to me as an educator, scientist, and entrepreneur is the ability to really relate to someone else and to hear them.
Here’s an example: Like many colleges and universities, Ursinus uses the “common app” in the admissions process. There are plenty of advantages. Applying to college is stressful and the common app saves time and reduces that stress. But the very name makes me cringe. Common app. That sounds too generic, doesn’t it? What makes us unique isn’t common at all.
It’s the uncommon that makes us stand out.
We want to attract students and employees who view Ursinus as their best fit to further their education and their professional careers. We want to help create a future for them that ideally suits their abilities, and to truly succeed in doing so, we must get to know them.
Why are you coming to Ursinus? What problem do you want to solve? Are you passionate about finding solutions to climate change? We have an amazing, hands-on environmental studies program that will help you do that. Are you interested in infusing health and wellness into all aspects of your life? So are we! And we signed an international pledge that promises to do just that in every aspect of our campus life.
I want all our Bears to tell me about the things in their lives that have presented challenges and how they’ve handled them—or better yet, how the Ursinus community can help them find solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow. I’ve been fortunate in my seven months here to get some intriguing answers to these questions. During the week of my inauguration in October, several students shared the most significant experiences (outside the classroom) that have shaped their identities and individuality. In another event, staff, faculty, and alumni spoke about their transformative “Ursinus moments.” It became evident to me that colleges like Ursinus are places of immense opportunity to create knowledge and to change lives.
But how do we get there? It starts with that connection. We prepare ourselves to see potential behind every door and to do that, the talented admissions teams at colleges and universities across the country must become more intimately familiar with what makes our prospective students and families uncommon. It’s what our own admissions team looks for when seeking out the right students for Ursinus. Because when I see someone walking across campus, I not only want to shout their name—I want to know the person behind it.
President Robyn Hannigan
“Marginalia” is a series of columns from President Hannigan. If you’d like to share your thoughts or reflections on this piece, email email@example.com