President Link’s vision for Allegheny, restructuring administrative positions


Sami Mirza

Students walk in front of the Tippie Alumni Center, where the Faculty Council meets.

As Allegheny College President Hilary Link enters her third year in the position, many changes have been observed afforded by her vision for the future and advancement of the college.

Vice President for Institutional Advancement Matthew Stinson commented on Link’s vision.

“She has four very distinct priorities that will help to elevate the profile of Allegheny College,” Stinson said. “The categories include holistic student success with inclusive excellence, being relevant to global, regional, local and social context and owning our (Allegheny’s) distinct academic brand and financial stability.”

Vice President for Enrollment Management Ellen Johnson talked about Link’s vision being motivated by and focusing on providing Allegheny students with the opportunity to make the best out of their education.

“(Link’s vision) all wraps up into ensuring that every Allegheny student gets the best experience that Allegheny offers,” Johnson said. “We are trying to make sure that students get the best experience possible regardless of their background or past experiences.”

Stinson mentioned that in order to implement Link’s vision and ensure holistic student success, the best student experience at Allegheny College is considered the average student experience at Allegheny College.

“We’ve heard anecdotally from young Allegheny alumni about the fantastic experience they had while being here,” Stinson said.. However, we’ve also unfortunately heard that not every student has that experience.”

Stinson also talked about higher education data that shows a relationship that represents inequality among students and their professional endeavors based on factors such as socioeconomic status.

“There’s plenty of higher education data that shows underrepresented students as being much more likely to have internships that are not paid,” Stinson said. “They’re much more likely to not have the same networking opportunities.”

Stinson explained Link’s vision is to enforce a system of support that will ensure that all students are provided with the same opportunities while at Allegheny.

“(We are) putting in a support structure to make sure that every student regardless of their background has the equitable level of opportunities,” Stinson said.

Johnson gave the example of the creation of the role of Dean for Students Success, which was assumed by Ian Binnington, as being part of the implementation of Link’s vision.

“Ian Binnington is the inaugural Dean for Students Success, and he is now waking up every day with his team thinking about how they can make sure students are succeeding,” Johnson said.

Stinson reinforced Link’s focus on student success by talking about the creation of the position of First-Year Class Dean, undertaken by Niki Fjeldal.

“We’re already hearing from tons of students about the impact (Fjeldal) is having in making them feel welcome, comfortable and connected,” Stinson said. “The class dean concept will carry forward in the future, we actually hope to hire a second-year class dean in the coming year.”

The college is doing a review of the process by which financial aid is determined and allocated to students, according to Johnson.

“We realize that the affordability of college is a big factor for many of our students so we are currently reviewing the process through which (we) award financial aid to incoming students as well as to students who may be having challenges retaining at the college due to the costs changing during their time here,” Johnson said. “This is another way in which we are looking to ensure holistic student success.”

Stinson clarified that the college is focusing on equity and not equality when it comes to ensuring holistic student success.

“We are absolutely focusing on equity (of experience) with the acknowledgment that students come in from different backgrounds in lots of different ways and therefore need different resources,” Stinson said. “Focusing on equality would mean we are standardizing the Allegheny experience.”

According to Johnson, Allegheny aims to meet students where they are during matriculation and envisions bringing them to the successful level.

“When we recruit new students, we’re essentially recruiting alumni. That’s what we hope to do.” Johnson said. “Our goal is that any student that attends Allegheny becomes a graduate of Allegheny.”

Recent downsizing of staff positions has been administered at Allegheny. The Faculty Council, which serves to advise Link and serve as a liaison between the college community and the administration, clarified the elimination of positions and how it relates to Link’s vision.

“The council is deeply saddened to lose so many colleagues on campus, those individuals contributed a great deal to the college and their absence will be felt for some time,” the council said in an email to The Campus. “The restructuring was done in order to support President Link’s vision and increase collaboration across various departments on campus. The downsizing was strictly a result of the financial situation of the college and the mandate from the Board of Trustees to close the budget deficit over the next four years.”

The council also explained the role it will play in Link’s new vision for the college.

“The council will continue to play the role that it always has,” the council said.  “We advise the President and the Provost of the college on a variety of matters including staffing, we oversee and support the committee structures on campus and we bring concerns raised to us by the Allegheny community to the attention of the President and Provost.”


Correction: A previous version of this story misquoted the statement from the Faculty Council as “The restructuring was done in order to support President Link’s vision and increase collaboration across various departments on campus and was strictly a result of the financial situation of the college and the mandate from the Board of Trustees to close the budget deficit over the next four years.” The story has been updated to reflect the correct quotation.