Albert C. DeCiccio, former Academic Dean of Rivier College in Nashua, N.H.,Named Provost at Southern Vermont College(Bennington, Vt.) — Southern Vermont College has selected Albert C. DeCiccio, the former Academic Dean of Rivier College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Nashua, N.H., to fill the newly created post of Provost. He assumed the position as the college’s Chief Academic Officer on July 7.DeCiccio earned his undergraduate degree at Merrimack College in 1974, his master’s degree in English from SUNY Albany, and his doctorate in English, Rhetoric and Composition from Arizona State University.”In Al DeCiccio, we have found a person with a remarkably wide range of talents,” SVC President Karen Gross said. “In addition to being a true scholar, he is deeply engaged in thinking about pedagogy and creative and thoughtful programmatic development. He is adept at helping others grow and learn, and he believes in small colleges and their capacity to change lives. SVC welcomes him to our community and looks forward to his wisdom, his good humor and his remarkable thoughtfulness. Students, faculty and staff will be enriched by the opportunity to work with him. The search committee, chaired by Professor Tom Redden, are to be commended for their efforts.”President Gross explained that the college replaced the position of Academic Dean with that of Provost in order to emphasize that “academic life is an institution’s primary asset an asset that must be nurtured and fostered each and every day. The chief academic officer must be an institution’s compelling and inspirational voice about the power and capacity of education, and must effectively engage students, faculty and the wider community in the enterprise of education expressed through a vision for the essential value of liberal arts colleges in the 21st century.”As Academic Dean for the past eight years, DeCiccio has been responsible for the development of all graduate and undergraduate liberal arts, sciences and professional studies programs at the 2,070-student college.Of the role of Provost, DeCiccio commented that “the Provost should establish the academic vision of the College for all constituencies, and broadcast that vision in the local civic community and, more nationally, in the higher education community. A Provost is very different from an Academic Dean, who is chiefly concerned with academic affairs and matters involving the faculty.”DeCiccio also explained that he is looking forward to coming to a small, liberal arts college, an environment where, as the first in his family to earn a college degree, he discovered the value of education.”I am a product of the small college, and I have thrived in that environment,” DeCiccio said. “Small, liberal arts colleges are staffed by faculty who love the classroom and the students in it from the first year through the last year. I am so pleased to have the chance to work with faculty who will take their roles seriously in the formation of their students.”Once he’s established in his new role, DeCiccio expects to teach classes himself.”I love to teach writing, fiction, writing center theory, rhetoric,” he said.And what advice does he give to students entering college? “The difference between high school and college is freedom, and the extent that students can negotiate that freedom, they will succeed in college,” he noted. “In high school, one learns how to find answers; in college, one learns how to ask questions.”In his spare time, he enjoys reading, live music, traveling and delving into the history of a place, but he’s also a sports fan.”I was thrilled with the Celtics winning the championship, but one of the great gifts of my life is to have seen the Red Sox win Two World Series,” he said.Founded in 1926, Southern Vermont College offers a career-enhancing liberal arts education with 19 academic degree programs for approximately 450 students. Southern Vermont College recognizes the importance of educating students for the workplace of the twenty-first century and for lives as successful leaders in their communities. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Investment returns generated by Finland’s earnings-related pension funds in the first half of this year were just above zero, thanks to a positive second quarter, according to Finnish pensions alliance TELA.But near-zero returns for the world’s largest pension funds last year reveal the difficulties in the global investment environment, the organisation said.TELA published data showing that the investment return on Finnish earnings-related pension assets was 0.3% in nominal terms in the first six months of the year.Despite the positive return trend in the second quarter, “modest returns” in the first quarter means the figures for the first half were only slightly positive, it said in the statistical analysis. Earnings-related pension assets totalled about €180.3bn at the end of June, lower than the level reported for the same point last year of €182.9bn, even though TELA said the value of the assets had risen by €2.4bn during the second quarter of this year.TELA analyst Peter Halonen said the situation on the financial markets improved slightly during the second quarter, as central banks continued monetary policy measures to stimulate the economy and reasonably good financial figures were published – in the US and China, for example.“On the other hand,” he said, “the stimulating monetary policy and the resulting low interest rates have kept the investment environment challenging, especially for fixed income investments.“Brexit, in turn, hit equities particularly hard during the second quarter and has increased both economic and political uncertainty.”Returns on earnings-related pension assets in Finland in 2015, however, beat returns produced by big pension funds in other countries, TELA said.But it warned that these weak investment results by the big funds indicated how tough the environment was.Halonen said: “Last year, the returns of the world’s largest pension funds – for instance, in Japan, Norway, the Netherlands and the US – were around zero.“This reflects the difficulties in the global market situation; we operate in the same investment environment.”However, he added that Finnish pension insurers were constantly striving to seek new, profitable investments.“For as long as the return on investments exceeds the growth rate of the wages and salaries sum in the long term, it pays to invest pension assets and to cover some pensions with the returns yielded by the investments,” Halonen said.At the end of June, the proportion of earnings-related pension assets invested in equities and equity-like instruments stood at around 46.3%, or €83.6bn in absolute terms, down from 46.3% at the end of June 2015.Fixed income investments accounted for about €81.9bn, or 45.4%, up from 42.7% at the same point last year, while real estate investments totalled €14.9bn, equating to an 8.3% overall allocation, down from 9.4% 12 months earlier.TELA’s analysis takes in data on the investment of statutory earnings-related pension assets made by pension insurance companies, industry-wide pension funds, company pension funds, the pension liability fund for the employees of the Social Insurance Institution, Keva, the Central Church Fund, the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution, the Seafarer’s Pension Fund (MEK), the Pension Institution of the Bank of Finland and the State Pension Fund (VER).