“We are thrilled to be working with Alan Novak,” Bobby Fong, president of the Collegeville liberal arts school, said in a press release. “Alan has solid experience in meeting strategic goals and has been highly successful in building coalitions. He is a collaborative, creative, and charismatic colleague.”
Novak, who attended Villanova Law School after graduating from Ursinus, is of counsel to Conrad O’Brien in West Chester, and is also the president and founder of Novak Strategic Advisors, a public and government affairs firm in Harrisburg, Pa.
A nationally-recognized political figure who was the longest-serving chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party (1996-2005), Novak is considered one of the most sought-after political pundits in Pennsylvania.
“I’ve changed career paths several times,” said Novak. “All along the way I’ve built off of the skills I developed at Ursinus and my different experiences. It is time to use those skills for the good of the school, and to give back,” said Novak.
Known for his consensus-building leadership style, Novak plans to both engage and empower board members.
“I plan to have a fully-engaged board of trustees who back the president and the strategic plan, but also get involved with the strategic thinking of the college,” said Novak.
As the new leader of the board, Novak also plans to emphasize the vision of Ursinus as a liberal arts college.
“Are we producing students who are ready to work and get jobs, but also prepared for leading in life? I think that’s what liberal arts colleges are all about,” Novak said. “They’re about developing critical thinking, creative thinking, analytical thinking, communication and collaborative skills. If we’re going to say that, I think it’s important that the college live that.”
Novak, who was the first person in his family to go to college, is also concerned about the cost of Ursinus, and the notion in higher education that higher costs equate to a more quality education.
“I don’t think you can look into the future and keep rolling up tuition increases without looking into the cumulative effects and what it means to the affordability of the college to middle class people,” said Novak, who complimented President Fong and senior staff for being cost-conscious. “Our value is not about what it costs to go to Ursinus; it’s about what our students do when they leave Ursinus.”
A trustee of the college since 2006, Novak has been known to give back to the college in creative ways – in 2010, he loaned his extensive collection of baseball memorabilia to the college's Berman Museum of Art.