GATOR CHAMPS: PRESIDENT HILARY LINK
Updated: Aug 6
I am enlightened, not only by our Allegheny community, but the community of Meadville. Up until now, I have always lived in a big city, so living in Meadville has offered a very different experience.
The other day, my neighbor posted something to my door explaining efforts to have a food drive for students who can’t afford food on the weekends when the local schools aren't providing it. I was astonished at how many people dropped off different foods and items to help our community.
While the college is my main focus, our relationship with Meadville is very important to me. I've been in consistent communication with the city manager, Andy Walker. We are always trying to just help each other. He asks what the Allegheny community needs from Meadville, and I see how Allegheny can assist the surrounding citizens. There’s almost been something like a crisis effect where any other preexisting barriers don't matter anymore and what’s most important is each other's support.
ALLEGHENY & MEADVILLE FIGHT THE COVID-19 BATTLE TOGETHER:
The action and reactions of our Gator community has taken on a completely different meaning for me. I receive so many thank you emails from parents and students that reinforce the reward from our efforts to help the students and their families as much as possible. In circumstances such as this, our partners -- whether it's St. Moritz Building Services or Parkhurst Dining -- have been outstanding.
I’m also so grateful and proud of the student involvement and calls for action. There are very few other places that have the opportunity and platform for students to help those who typically help them each day.
I have alumni and faculty who reach out and ask what they can do to help make this transition easier for students and Allegheny as a whole. What also has really surprised me are the efforts by faculty to connect with their students. Our faculty miss the students being here just as much as the students do. To me, that alone speaks to how unique and important our campus community is.
My days are now almost surreal. There are still the duties and ongoing projects that come along with being President of Allegheny College, but each day is also atypical. There's something new everyday, so my schedule and work is very unpredictable.
Before the pandemic, I spent around a third of my time on the road traveling to meet with alumni or other institutions. Since I no longer can do that, I, in a sense have more free time. I also now have a whole other set of issues now that weren't even on my radar before like how do we keep increasing enrollment if no one can come to campus? How do we avoid putting our faculty on furlough or layoff, etc.?
In the midst of all of this, I’m still trying to keep up with the momentum we've created in the past nine months especially by continuing visions of our future with the Meadville community. Though this is a time of crisis, it has allowed for us to work so closely together and further our partnership. The way I see it: this crisis will go away, but Allegheny College and the city of Meadville will not. We need to stick together to get through this and make it out alive.
If I could say anything to our community it would be thank you to everyone. We know how hard and how much of a struggle this has been, and we all recognize that everyone is doing the absolute best they can.
The work of the college continues through this crisis. The crisis presents new opportunities for collaboration and momentum. I spend each day figuring out what we need to do to get through this but mostly how we can use this time to invest in the college and fix our “pre-pandemic” issues.
Just like all of you, I am awaiting the day for this to be over so that we all can join together on campus again, but that does not mean our focus has been taken away from the momentum of the college.”
~~ Hilary Link (President, Allegheny College). Interviewed by Zoe Konzel (Class of '22).
Some of President Link's first year achievements (From Left, clockwise):
First Allegheny passport fair where American students could apply for free U.S. passports for study abroad participation; Volunteering in the Meadville community; Inspiring confidence so the College surpassed its Alumni giving goal for 2019; Supporting first generation students and participating in the American Talent Initiative—an alliance of leading colleges and universities dedicated to enrolling more high-achieving lower-income students; being the first liberal arts college to start an in-house health agency with our resident epidemiologist Dr. Dawson, in partnership with the Meadville Medical Center; and championing student-athletes.
JOIN PRESIDENT LINK AND GATOR ALUMNI IN SUPPORTING STUDENTS IN OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH THESE DIFFICULT TIMES. PLEASE INVEST IN THE GATOR COMMUNITY THAT YOU LOVE BY CLICKING ON THE BUTTON AND DONATING.