Leter from President Marsteller ’78, P ’18

bomberger walkwayIt was a year we’ll never forget. At Ursinus College, the 2020-21 academic year tested our limits. It forced us to plan for the unforeseen. It pushed us to innovate even faster than we ever could have imagined. We had to be creative, we had to be resilient, and we had to collectively confront adversity. In a year of social distancing and self-isolation, we somehow managed to come together, be together, and learn together, safely and effectively. It was a year when our Bears—near and far—united to ensure the success of this college, our students, and even one another. I’ve never seen a greater display of compassion, generosity, and empathy.

It was—in so many waysa year of inspiration!

In the pages ahead, you will read about some of the people who helped propel Ursinus to greatness in 2020-21. They are our “game changers,” the individuals who embraced the uncertainty of our current climate, met these challenges head-on, and, in doing so, inspired others to join them. In some cases, they lent a helping hand to their fellow Bears, lifting them up over the hurdles. In others, they pushed boundaries, rewrote the standard, and emboldened us to accept positive change.

As some of the data presented here can attest, Ursinus achieved a significant amount during a year when we often felt at a standstill. We doubled down on our commitment to a residential liberal arts experience and so, while we offered the option of remote or commuter learning, 80 percent of our students chose to stay with us on campus and learn in person. Through robust COVID-19 virus mitigation measures and the expert assistance of Dean Mark Schneider and our Virus Task Force—which gained attention from higher education and local press—we managed to keep our campus community safe, with case counts and positivity numbers far lower than within the region and state.

Against the odds, our college once again enrolled one of the largest, most academically talented and diverse classes in our history. We also had one of our strongest fundraising years ever during a time when we were unable to have visitors or events on campus. Our alumni, parents, and friends—even those far away from Collegeville—stepped up to give back to the college during a moment of heightened need. It’s a testament to the type of people within our Ursinus community— altruistic, thoughtful, and generous. We could not have done it without you.

We begin the 2021-22 academic year anew in every sense of that word. As your current president, I intend to ensure that our high-caliber residential learning experience remains at the heart of what we do, while also recognizing that we still must be “virus vigilant,” and ready to meet a variety of challenges in the higher education space. Given our success of the last year in particular, I have every confidence that we are up to the tasks at hand. I promise to give Ursinus my very best effort, and I ask you to join me by giving yours as well, in whatever form feels right for you.

TOGETHER, we will uphold our mission statement and do what we do best: “enable students to become independent, responsible, and thoughtful individuals through a program of liberal education.”

It’s a great time to be a Bear!

JILL LEAUBER MARSTELLER ’78, P’18
President