The Inauguration of Dr. Linda Fedrizzi-Williams
Today, as she nears the end of her first year in office, she was officially inaugurated under blue skies on a beautiful, late spring afternoon at the Student Fellowship Area on the college’s Summerdale campus.
Speaking before a large crowd––that included alumni, students, faculty, staff, family members, friends and community members––Fedrizzi-Williams articulated her vision for the college: “I pledge to do all I can to make Central Penn College a remarkable institution that proves to be a game-changer for anyone willing to make the commitment to complete their education here,” she said.
In just over 11 months in office, Fedrizzi-Williams has already achieved a number of “game-changing” accomplishments…
- Implementing a Free Housing Initiative – enabling new residential students to enjoy free housing during their first academic year
- Freezing tuition rates for the 2019–2020 academic year
- Establishing a food pantry for any student dealing with food insecurity issues
- Expanding student support services, specifically the Counseling department and the Advising Center
- Launching a new 18-credit certificate program for phlebotomy technicians
- Building stronger community and corporate partnerships through scholarship opportunities and other initiatives
President Fedrizzi-Williams’ background
President Fedrizzi-Williams earned a doctorate of education from Benedictine University, a Master of Arts in Organizational Communication from Marist College, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (TV/Radio/Film) from Marist College, and an Associate of Arts from SUNY Orange.
Fedrizzi-Williams joined the college in July 2016 as provost/vice president of academic affairs after holding various teaching and administrative positions––including associate vice president, Liberal Arts, and department chair, Arts and Communication––at SUNY Orange in Middletown, N.Y.
In fall 2017, she was appointed interim co-president when Central Penn College’s ninth president left to pursue another opportunity. During Fedrizzi-Williams’ first two years at the Summerdale institution, she gained a reputation for inclusivity, transparency and collaboration, qualities that made her well-respected and well-liked throughout the college community.
Fedrizzi-Williams’ love for what she does… the people she serves… and the college she heads… shined through loud and clear on Friday afternoon. “Never have I felt so called to an institution, to a mission that I firmly believe in, to a student body who is doing everything necessary in their power to earn that degree that will change their lives and the lives of their families. That is why I took this presidency nearly one year ago,” she said.
Celebrating a new era
Sharing the stage with President Fedrizzi-Williams were State Senator Mike Regan who gave the saluation; Rev. Dilip R. Abayasekara, Ph.D., who performed the invocation; and Central Penn Professor Jared Rife and student Brian Christiana who both offered congratulatory remarks.
Dr. Krista Young, President of SUNY Orange, talked about the high regard in which Fedrizzi-Williams is held by administrators, faculty and staff at the New York state college.
“Former colleagues have described Linda as a pied piper: people just wanted to follow her,” said Young. “They knew if they joined forces with her in an initiative that their time would be well spent, that the project would be quality, and that they’d probably have fun and actually enjoy the process of getting whatever it was done.”
On becoming president of SUNY Orange in 2015, Young said one of her first jobs was to quickly identify “among my 100s of new colleagues [who] could help me with the best answers for SUNY Orange?”
She was looking for someone “who cared deeply about students… was honest about our situation… who was creative about what we could do as a college… was humble enough to share their own thoughts… who saw the future as more promising than the past… who was a champion for our students and our college?”
The person she identified? “Of course, it was Linda,” said Young.
She also noted the many qualities that has made Fedrizzi-Williams a favorite of students, faculty and staff here at Central Penn: “I saw, as you have surely seen, her intellect, her curiosity, her positivity, her honesty, her humility, her ability to communicate, her work ethic, her value system, and of course, her brilliant sense of humor.”
Dr. Carol W. Spigner performed the investiture ceremony. She serves as chair on the board of directors for Central Penn College.
The newly inaugurated president spoke for about 15 minutes. Here are some highlights from her address:
“I must give thanks and acknowledge the nine previous presidents who had the vision to create such a unique resource for our community. If it weren’t for their leadership, we would not be the institution we are today. So thank you.”
Opportunities & Second Chances
“We offer opportunities to first-time students, and we offer second chances to the 70% of our students who took some college credits at another institution and had to stop for some reason or another…”
The Little Things
“For our students, challenges do not end with tuition—it is often the little things that we can do for our students that make all the difference…”
“The majority of our students work full time. It is imperative that we offer flexible scheduling, providing access to working students, rather than barriers.”
“To our students—I promise that we will empower you in your studies, giving you the tools to be successful at whatever it is you want to achieve.”
After the hour-long installation ceremony, guests joined President Fedrizzi-Williams––along with Central Penn board members, faculty and staff––for a celebratory reception at the Conference Center.