Marcia White To Lead Saint Rose Through June 2023
The College of Saint Rose has tapped Marcia White as its president through June 2023. White became interim president of the Albany college last year, as it navigated financial struggles exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. White spoke with WAMC’s Jesse King.
What made you want to take on the role on a permanent basis?
Well, I think it's because we have so much more work to do. And I chose this position because, first of all, I’m an alum of Saint Rose, I served on the board for 18 years when I was selected as interim [president]. I knew that there's no college like Saint Rose and, quite frankly, I could see that it was a time of transition with COVID, you know, hitting higher education. And it was the right time for me to be here and serve. And just taking the title off, “interim,” and becoming president – it just gives the students, it gives our supporters, it gives our founders the support and strength that they know that there's stability here. We have so much to do: we are taking actions to align with financial sustainability, we're reorganizing, we have a strategic planning process, we're doing Middle States accreditation, and there's just much more we need to do, because colleges need to be flexible. They need to look at the needs of the students at the time. And quite frankly, I think that's one of the things that's been missing on higher education. Now we're all in a position where we're forced to, but I think Saint Rose has always been ahead of the curve when we're meeting the needs of the students. We're providing the kind of delivery model that a lot of colleges are just jumping on, where students have an opportunity to either attend some classes in person via Livestream or online. And we also offer a two-in-four program where students are able to earn their bachelor's and master's degree faster, saving $12,000. So, we have so much to offer here, and it is exactly the right time for us to reset and move on to build a stronger future as we continue in our 100th anniversary at Saint Rose.
Now, last year, the college announced that it was discontinuing a number of academic programs amid financial struggles. The Board of Trustees approved a plan to reduce expenses by nearly $6 million, including the elimination of 16 bachelor's degrees, six master's degrees and three certificate programs. What is the financial status of the college right now?
We're in a much more stable situation. What we've done is had the great opportunity to have federal funding, which covered a lot of the COVID expenses and losses. We also have had our “To the Second Century” campaign, and I think that we're in a position where we're trying to also reduce our debt, and [we’re] really evaluating our costs or expenses. We have a three-year financial plan. So we're planning for the future. And we're really evaluating everything we do at Saint Rose. And because we've been able to really evaluate our costs, and increase revenue from fundraising in other areas – I think that's really put us in much better stead.
You told WAMC in December that by 2023, Saint Rose would have the ability to have a stable financial position and be on a positive foot forward. Are you still on track for that today?
I think we should be there within the next three years. I really believe that that's where we will be.
And how is Saint Rose approaching the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic this semester, especially with the Delta variant?
Right now, students had to either show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. However, on September 9, we will be moving to mandating vaccination, because we'll also be having a vaccination clinic here. So our students will be able to get their first vaccination on campus if they haven't received it by then. So you know, we're following the science, and the FDA just approved the [Pfizer] vaccines. So that was one of the requirements [on when] we would be going into mandating vaccination – once the vaccine was approved, and it has been approved. So we feel that this is the best way to protect our students or employees, and have a kind of environment that our students can come back to campus. We're very excited about it. 80 to 85% of our courses are taught in person. This is the kind of experience that our students want, and they need that interaction, that ability to connect, and we're really happy that we have this opportunity to serve them.
Now you've committed to serve as president of Saint Rose through June 2023. Any chance you would want to continue in the job beyond that time?
I'm serving one day at a time. This is an incredibly rewarding opportunity for me personally. I just came back with a welcome for our first-year students that have come back to campus. And what they give you is so amazing, because they are our hope for the future. And they teach us every day. I love Saint. Rose, I love this campus, that feeling you have here of connection, of support, of caring, of a faculty that teaches every single one as an individual – it’s something you're not gonna get anywhere else. So I'm blessed to be part of this team, and just honored to serve. And I think that we're on the course for an incredibly exciting term. And I'm just proud to be part of it.