Allegheny College Launches Renaissance Vision with Strategic Realignment to Become Leading Multidisciplinary Institution for Future Generations

Entrepreneurial Implementation of Ambitious Plan Aims to Preempt “The Enrollment Cliff” in 2026

Allegheny College, one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold, has announced its president’s Renaissance Vision and a new administrative realignment to become a leading college for future generations — preparing students for a life, not merely a job. The new structure will be fully implemented by June 30, 2021 and is part of an ambitious plan led by President Hilary L. Link, Ph.D., to innovate, educate and serve Gen Z students while keeping the college financially viable.

President Link’s student-centric plan aims to propel Allegheny College forward before the arrival of the enrollment or demographic “cliff” Nathan D. Grawe highlighted to draw attention to the declining U.S. birthrate expected to impact college campuses beginning in 2026. That is when the number of college-aged students is predicted to drop almost 15 percent, which has the higher education community braced for lower enrollments and decreasing revenue.

While many colleges and universities have been tackling the enrollment cliff with cuts to admissions, programs and services, President Link is determined to focus on making the college more compelling to future students. As a global interdisciplinary scholar of Italian Renaissance art and literature, she has developed a strategy for success with a very Gen Z twist on Renaissance ideals: the desire for an education that prepares one to solve complex issues using multidisciplinary tools to make a greater impact. Importantly, President Link is doubling down on an innovative approach to enable Allegheny College to raise its profile and meet the preferences, needs and opportunities of Gen Z. One of her favorite sayings is: “When you change where you stand, you change what you see.”

“At Allegheny College, today’s Renaissance students are pulled toward our core of inclusion and success, then as graduates, propelled forward with the tools to impact the world,” said President Link. “We’ve put aside the more rigid, discipline-specific and vocational nature of education to meet the self-view of Gen Zers — multidisciplinary learners and people who embody a Renaissance perspective. They want to be lots of different things, and we are preparing them to make their own futures and solve problems they care about.”

In her first year and a half leading the college, President Link has been communicating with thousands of students, alumni, faculty and staff; consulting higher education professionals and local and national business leaders; and pulling inspiration from international thought-leaders to frame the college’s next transformation.

Allegheny College’s Renaissance Vision is realigned across four interlocking priorities:

  • Holistic Student Success/Inclusive Excellence, to make the best student experience at Allegheny College the common experience for every student. This will be reflected along a continuum of access, completion and engagement, from recruiting and enrolling students to career planning and placement and ongoing alumni engagement.
  • Owning Allegheny College’s Distinct Academic Brand, an intersectional approach to educate students for a life, not just a job.
  • Relevance to Global, Regional and Local Social Context, expanding on the college’s strong history and work in civic engagement by taking a more active role in economic development and by having a stronger and more cohesive community presence.
  • Financial Stability, putting in place strategic initiatives intended to balance the college’s budget and steer the college to a continuing robust future.

To successfully implement her plan, President Link has deployed an Entrepreneurial Operating System® employed frequently by the leadership teams of growth-oriented companies, but rarely used at institutes of higher education, to engage the management and staff of Allegheny College in becoming more nimble and freed from higher education’s more deliberate approach to change. The process establishes weekly metrics for communication, accountability and measurement, with opportunities for adjustments and improvements every 90 days. President Link believes this inclusive process of vision-building and swift action is required to deliver on the college’s promise to produce thinkers who are nimble, flexible, analytical problem-solvers.

Allegheny College has been working towards a new model of student support and retention initiatives over the past several years and is one of 11 colleges across the country recently selected to participate in the first cohort of the new Gardner Institute Equity in Retention Academy.

To further the new vision for organizational realignment, President Link’s direct reports now include an expanded mix of functions that elevate student success and diversity, equity and inclusion. The college also will realign some areas, including career education and marketing/communications, and is adding a Class Dean structure to further support students.

About Allegheny College

Allegheny College, founded in 1815, is one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold. It is one of the few colleges in the United States with a unique requirement to choose both a major and minor for graduation, to provide students with a cross-disciplinary path in the sciences and humanities for educational depth and intellectual growth. Located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny College is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” In its 2021 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny College in its Top 20 Best in Undergraduate Teaching and Top 30 Most Innovative National Liberal Arts Colleges.