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Making professional connections for a new century; 1990-2003

When Dr. Diane L. Reinhard assumed the presidency of Clarion on June 1, 1990 she brought with her perspectives from larger universities, but also an understanding of what was needed at Clarion.She also brought experience as a teacher and administrator with her to Clarion, including a 10-month stint as acting president of West Virginia University.  She also served as the dean of the College of Human Resources and Education at WVU. 

Diane Reinhard
Diane L. Reinhard

"Clarion's academic reputation and quality of the faculty, a faculty committed to the students and the region," she said in outlining one of the major reasons she was attracted to Clarion.

The professional level of academic programs and administrative approach evolved under her leadership. She also guided Clarion's approach to seeking the top level of accreditations available for its programs.

 A matter of style

Her collegial style of management was outlined before she took office.

"I think my style is one of facilitation and consultation," she said in an interview for a publication dealing with the 125th anniversary of Clarion. "Ultimately, though, the legacy that any president strives for is to advance the mission of the university and to enhance the quality of life for all members of the academic community.The importance of goals in making connections was identified at the start of her administration and outlined in her inaugural address. "Let us create connections...connections in our teaching and learning, in our scholarship activities,and in our relations with the region we serve. Connections are the building blocksof our community and our mission of teaching, scholarship, and service is the blueprint.

The Clarion Community

The greater Clarion Community was strengthened during the Reinhard years, as more constituents were encouraged to participate in the life of Clarion University. An active community provided the framework for a growing academic program.

Reinhard Village Dedication
At Reinhard Villages with Harry Tripp, Chuck Leach, and Joe Grunenwald.

A snapshot view in the early Reinhard years shows a predominantly white and female (60 percent) student body, with approximately 75 percent within the traditional college age range of 18-23 and 35 percent residing in university facilities.

The largest number of studentscame from Allegheny, Clarion, and Venango Counties, but efforts were launched to increase the diversity of its students, both in race and geography.

Clarion students also remained social responsive and responsible. An emphasis was placed on community learning and service and student organizations often solicited donations of food for the local food banks, collecting cold weather clothing for the homeless, conducted environmental cleanups, and many other similar activities. Social responsiveness continued through Reinhard's tenure and continued under President Joseph Grunenwald.

The geographic picture of Clarion County was a typical rural northwestern Pennsylvania county. Data gleaned from the 1990 U.S. Census and the 1992 Pennsylvania Abstract reveal that the county has a declining population of 42,000, a small minority population, an extremely low crime rate, the level of educational attainment is on the high end of the scale, and service industries lead the way in terms of employment opportunities.

University employees, including faculty, administration, and staff numbered over 700.

As noted earlier in this history, the faculty is committed to the students and the community. Faculty was more highly `pedigreed' than ever before and brought significant experience to Clarion.

Budget remains a concern

Fiscal resources, as throughout the entire history of the institution, remained a matter of concern. While the budget was at an all time high, Federal and state support decreased to 43 percent of the entire budget and would continue to do so during the Grunenwald and Whitney years.

Erosion of continuing governmental support is a challenge for public institutions. The budget situation translated to increased student tuition and fees and a need for the university to increase its fundraising activities. One example of the budget challenges facing Clarion was the Commonwealth's Jump Start Program. While the State historically provided funding for construction projects, the new program required universities to raise a 25 percent match for the projects. Clarion was allocated $7.85 million for the renovation of Founders, Harvey Hall, and Montgomery Hall (Venango Campus). Later in Reinhard's tenure funding was received for a dramatic "renovation" of Carlson Library that ushered in a Renaissance of Clarion growth, including planning a development of a new Science and Technology Center to replace Peirce Science Center.

A focus on academics

Fiscal constraints have not halted academic advancements. Clarion rose to lead the State System of Higher Education in the number of professional accreditations earned for its programs, a recognition by external sources that academic programs were meeting national and state standards. Academic additions also included programs or concentrations in biotechnology, women's studies, gerontology, and a cooperative doctorate with Penn State in science education.

Early in President Reinhard's administration a Strategic Planning Council was created. It generated a list of 12 priority goals. These included the size and composition of the student body and faculty, curriculum, physical plant needs, and the mission of Venango Campus.

Strategic planning

The mission statement developed by the Strategic Planning Council indicated Clarion would remain primarily an undergraduate institution and budgetary constraints would remain a factor in the plan implementation.

Other topics were noted and discussed, including: redefining and refining the mission statement, continuing to seek a diverse faculty with strong interest in teaching, scholarship, and practical research related to community needs, enrollment management, leading to modest growth, and consideration of both the size and the composition of the student body (quality, quantity, diversity, and pre-collegiate preparation), expanding international opportunities, focusing on equity issues, and maximizing resource utilization through heightened involvement in network, partnerships, and cooperative ventures.