Monday, October 5, 2015

A renewal of our public higher education mission

The well-attended inauguration of Jody Harpster, the 16th president of Shippensburg University, was a highlight of last week for me. These celebrations of the academy are a wonderful mixture of the present and the past, along with a renewal of our mission in public higher education.

I also enjoyed meeting with about 25 students, nearly equal numbers of freshmen and continuing students, who attended my first fireside chat of the fall semester with the Presidential Leadership Program (PLP). We had an interesting discussion of each student’s best and most challenging experience during the fall semester or, for the returning students, during their time at Bloomsburg.

They told me most of their best experiences came from interactions with dedicated faculty members, followed by opportunities to become involved in many clubs and organizations. Many continuing students said their best experiences have grown from the ability to make strong lasting friendships, often with other PLP students. The challenges include homesickness, too many one-day-a-week night classes, and parking.

At last week’s retreat at Bald Eagle State Park, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Executive Committee reviewed a draft policy on background checks for all team sports officials. The commissioner and our PSAC attorney developed the policy, which is based on the State System policy, and the president will vote electronically this week to approve the slightly edited policy. The goal is to have all officials complete the background check before officiating winter sports. I serve as chair of the board, which is composed of the presidents of the 18 universities in the conference.

Much of my effort this week will be focused on the quarterly State System Board of Governors meeting to be held at the Dixon Center in Harrisburg on Wednesday and Thursday. I am also looking forward to the annual Athletic Hall of Fame banquet and induction on Friday evening and the retirement dinner for Dr. Irv Wright on Saturday evening. Robbie and I also look forward to attending Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello as part of our Celebrity Artist Series on Sunday.

#CollaborativeLearning #SenseOfCommunity #CoCurricularLearning

Monday, September 28, 2015

A pleasant and productive summer

Summer 2015 was pleasant and productive for Bloomsburg University and for me as president. Significant university accomplishments included:

  • three successful summer sessions with enrollment equal to summer 2014
  • the arrival of Dr. Robert Aronstam, dean of the College of Science and Technology, and Dr. Jeffery Krug, dean of the College of Business
  • completion of the first Bloomsburg University Action Plan, which I presented to the State System Board of Governors
  • successful projects completed by six undergraduates under the guidance of faculty mentors and support of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (URSCA) grants
  • and the State System Board of Governors’ approval of a new major in Supply Chain Management

The summer’s personal highlight for Robbie and me was spending a week with all three of our children and all seven grandchildren at our home in a beautiful canyon in northcentral Washington.

Unfortunately, the fall semester did not begin as smoothly for me. I was involved in a significant vehicle accident, caused by severe anaphylactic shock in response to multiple yellow jacket stings. Luckily, no one was injured, including me.

However, I spent the weekend in Geisinger Medical Center in Danville due to the severity of the anaphylactic shock. I am now completely back to full health.

In addition to my day-to-day activities on campus, the fall semester started with meetings with special groups and other opportunities to represent our university. These included:
  • hosting new and continuing members of the Presidential Leadership Program (PLP) at Buckalew
  • meeting with students during the third annual Meet the President Day on the Academic Quad, sponsored by CGA
  • focusing on enrollment management and the university budget in these trying fiscal times during the fall retreat and meeting of the Council of Trustees
  • participating in insider campaign training for our It’s Personal comprehensive capital campaign
  • taking part in a presidents’ breakfast meeting and town hall meeting in Harrisburg on proposed changes in the Middle States Accreditation Process
  • and representing Bloomsburg on a panel with five other university presidents on Small Schools, Big Medicine: Working Together and Opportunities for Collaboration as part of Geisinger’s Centennial Celebration conference on A Century of Transformation and Innovation
During the coming week I will host the fall retreat for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Board of Directors at Bald Eagle State Park with Steve Murray, commissioner. I serve as chair of the board, which is composed of the presidents of the 18 universities in the conference.

Also this week, Robbie and I will host a reception for the recently tenured and promoted faculty at Buckalew, I will hold my first “Fireside Chat” with the new and continuing members of the Presidential Leadership Program and, on Friday, I will participate in the inauguration of Dr. G.F. “Jody” Harpster as Shippensburg University’s 16th president.

#CollaborativeLearning #SenseOfCommunity #CoCurricularLearning