Friday, September 12, 2014

Rising to the challenge

Following another successful Meet the President event last week on campus, I had the pleasure of joining the millions of people who have taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The creative fundraiser, made famous on social media by the many ice-dousing videos, has been tremendously successful in raising more than $110.5 million for the ALS Association.

As I said during my challenge, ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a relentless degenerative disease that leads slowly to death. To date, there is no cure. Hopefully this will change due to the overwhelming support seen these past few months by our society, including many of our own Bloomsburg University family and friends.

Rising to the challenge to support a worthy cause is nothing new to our university community. It’s almost second nature for our students, faculty and staff.

For example one of our sororities, Sigma Sigma Sigma, recently helped Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital land a $2,210 grant for needed teaching aides for its patients.

Their charitable effort is one of many examples of how our Greek organizations – as well as other student groups – work with our community and support local and national charities like the Ronald McDonald House, Toys for Tots, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and our local women’s shelter and food cupboard.

Of course a prime example of our passion for charity and community support is The Big Event, which annually receives a steady flow of volunteers from our entire student population. In fact, two of our largest on-campus fundraising efforts turned in record level donations this past academic year.

Relay For Life of Bloomsburg University, coordinated by our Chapter of Colleges Against Cancer, had more than 800 participants on 50 teams raise more than $50,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The Multicultural Center’s annual Breast Cancer 5K Walk/Run has raised more than $100,000 since the first step was taken in 2002, including more than $12,000 last fall.

These recent highlights remind me of the biggest challenge we faced and the strongest relief effort we pulled together during my tenure as president. Three years ago this past week, the Flood of 2011 forever changed the landscape and, in many case, the future of our community. The clear view of the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds from Route 11, where a row of houses once stood, is one permanent reminder. There are a thousand other examples in our immediate region.

We lost seven days of classes, yet our university continued to work. Students, faculty and staff volunteered with clean up, Red Cross efforts and local emergency governmental agencies, such as call-in centers and supply aide distribution. These volunteer efforts continued well into the fall and spring. It was a clear and emotional snapshot at how much we value our community and, in many ways, brought us all closer together. Today, we enjoy a stronger sense of community because of it.

#SenseOfCommunity #CoCurricularLearning

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Welcome back Huskies!

It’s become tradition for me to do a welcome back video to kick off the new academic year, joining the ranks of presidents from universities and colleges across the country who are featured on YouTube.

I’m not sure which president or school can be credited with the first one, but I’d like to think Bloomsburg University is among the pioneers.

This latest version is the sixth time I have worked with the Office of Marketing and Communications and Instructional Media Services to produce an entertaining and informative greeting for our returning and incoming campus community. The welcome video is an important communication tool for me.

As the university’s 175th anniversary celebration continues this fall, my attention has been piqued many times this year at how our school has evolved since its earliest days. Modes of communication have changed with each era, particularly in our recent chapter in history.

Social media is now a major player, of course, and during my tenure has rapidly become a preferred method of communication among our students, along with text messaging and email. This generation faces distractions from devices vying for their attention. Video helps me to break these barriers.

Lifestyles were very different in the days of our first principal Henry Carver, when the main manner of communication was the written letter. Harvey Andruss had it easier 50 years ago — just letters and telephone calls.

Even my predecessor Jessica Kozloff, who hosted a regular cable TV program, “Here and Now,” did not have to deal with Facebook, Instagram or Twitter during her presidency, although she is active in social media now. I admit, I have conceded to social media ... joining Twitter earlier this year.

As I have become more comfortable in front of the camera — something not as easy as one might think — our videos have ventured out of the studio and become more creative. With each version, the bar of expectations has risen. I enjoy the challenge. It’s a project I look forward to each year and hope the campus community does, too.

And in honor of our #BU175 celebration, a look back at ...