When I arrived at the Mount on January 17, 2016 to facilitate a faculty retreat with the then President Simon Newman, little did I know that the Mount would be my home for almost the next two years. My journey at the Mount started at a time when there was great uncertainty and low morale about the future of the Mount. When President Newman asked me to be the Interim Provost for a few weeks until he could start a search for a new Provost, my initial response was, you have to be kidding me. Nevertheless, I agreed to do my best and serve in this capacity.
My time at the Mount has been amazing, uplifting, challenging and full of adventures. I have come to admire and respect our faculty and am in awe of the intellectual capital they possess. Their love for our students can be seen every day in many different ways – be it teaching in the classroom, advising, mentoring or just sharing time talking in Patriot Hall or in the halls of our buildings. The Mount is fortunate to have such dedicated, committed and creative faculty who have stepped up to the plate so many times over the past two years. Much has been accomplished on the academic side of the Mount through collaboration, innovation and improved communication. The faculty and academic staff have stretched their comfort zones and grown in their confidence and skills as leaders who know how to solve problems and implement the solutions. I feel honored and blessed to have served our faculty in the capacity of Interim Provost.
What I have learned here at the Mount is that student retention is really about connections with our faculty, staff and other students. This connectivity between faculty and students, between staff and students – is what makes the Mount a very unique institution of higher learning. I kept on hearing about the Mount Community and wondered: what are these people talking about? I now know what the Mount Community is and that it stands for respect for the individual and service with an open heart and mind.
The Mount curriculum definitely is designed to seek the truth, to understand what it is to be human, while transforming our students from a focus on “me” to being there for others. We strive to learn to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. I experienced this first hand with the Mount’s Men’s Basketball Team, while being on the road last fall with them and watching them play some of the toughest games. Our student athletes are awesome! It was such an honor to serve as their academic advisor. They inspired me to never give up, never stop believing in yourself and be there for your team, win or lose.
Our academic curriculum is solid and it continues to evolve to meet our students where they are today. We are adding more technology to the classroom and more online and hybrid courses. All of our academic programs are continually assessing the outcomes. We have grown in the number of faculty over the last two years from 110 to 126. New ideas, new strengths and focus areas are being incorporated into our majors, minors and concentrations. We added several new majors in the last 18 months and continue to address the needs and gaps in our curriculum in order for our students to compete at the global level. The more we integrate disciplines and connect the dots across campus, our holistic approach to a four year undergraduate experience will improve and be one of the best in the country.
I discovered that our Frederick campus is a true gem since it serves the non-traditional student population and is very innovative in the way it tailors our programs to meet the needs of working men and women and our veterans. I do believe that our Division of Graduate and Professional Studies will lead the Mount to new heights by continuing to design and implement programs that will attract employees of companies up and down the I270 corridor and south. The more we can market what we do so well, the more undergraduate and graduate students we will attract.
I leave the Mount with both gratitude and warm feelings toward this small but impactful university. The people here have made me feel welcomed as one of the “community.” I have learned so much from the faculty, the staff and the students. I shall never forget my time on Mary’s Mountain. It provided me with joy and love in working at a small Catholic liberal arts university where I met such amazing human beings who genuinely care so much about making a difference in our student’s lives and in the lives of others. Our undergraduate mission statement says it all.
A special thank you is extended to the “Provost’s Team.” You came together and worked a few miracles these past two years. You are making a big difference here at the Mount.
Thank you Mount St. Mary’s University from the bottom of my heart for my time spent here in Emmitsburg. You all made it very special. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers.
Farewell and God Bless!
Jennie C. Hunter-Cevera, Ph.D.
Mount St. Mary’s University
January 2016 – December 2017.