Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Welcome to a new school year

Our students, including a record-number 2,000-plus freshmen, and faculty have begun settling back on campus this week in preparation for the 2009-10 academic year, which begins Monday.

The fall sports season also kicks off this week, including our first-ever home football game at night on Thursday, and our women's field hockey team beginning defense of their 15th national championship this weekend with two games.

This week is just the beginning of what we expect to be a great and exciting school year. Enjoy a personal video message I made to welcome everybody back to campus.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Coasters, baseball and the Jersey shore

There is a week left to the summer vacation, yet our campus really hasn’t had a vacation with all the activity since May graduation. There has been something going on every week from summer classes to construction projects to summer camps, and of course, many planning meetings.

In the meantime, I have been able to sneak in some time for fun and relaxation. Recently, I made my second visit to Knoebel’s Amusement Park — this time for an alumni event. I really enjoy the family atmosphere of the park, as well as the food. You don’t see fried pickles on a stick every day. Riding the roller coasters has to be my clear favorite part of the visit, especially the Phoenix and Twister. No matter how often I go on a ride, I can never accurately anticipate the quick dips and sharp turns. I have particularly enjoyed these old wooden roller coasters since I was a kid riding them at Riverview Park in Chicago and The Pike in Long Beach, California.

I’ve also continued to explore the cultural activities of Philadelphia. What a wonderful historic city! This latest trip I took in a Phillies game with friends. Unfortunately, it was a game where the Cubs ended the Phillies 10-game winning streak. The loss still didn’t take away from the great experience of watching baseball in person, being part of a sold-out crowd, and seeing the beautiful Phillies home, Citizens Bank Park. I am still pursuing the perfect cheesesteak, and the one I had at the park was pretty close to perfection.

Another recent road trip I enjoyed was a one-day excursion to the Jersey shore. The family-oriented beaches away from Atlantic City were beautiful. We had great weather, which made the ocean breeze even better. It was a great break from the busy schedule I had waiting for me back in Bloomsburg. However, after enjoying several trips away from campus, it’s been nice to get back home to Buckalew.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Visiting the Rockies, meeting alumni

My second week away from campus continues with an annual planning retreat for the presidents of the 14 PASSHE universities, the system chancellor and his senior staff. These two days will be filled with focused conversation that will help us plan to meet the economic challenges we continue to face as higher education institutions. We're committed to continue our tradition of delivering quality education at an affordable cost. This retreat will help us improve on that plan.

After the retreat, I'm flying to Denver with the director of the BU Alumni Association, Lynda Michaels, for an alumni event. There, we hope to meet up with close to 200 alumni who live in the Denver area.
We will also attend a celebration of the life of Henry Carver, who was the first principal of the Bloomsburg Literary Academy, the precursor of our university, and the builder and namesake of the first building on campus, Carver Hall, where my office is located.

These periodic trips to cities with concentrations of BU alumni are part of our efforts to keep alumni connected to the university, to support us financially and help us in other ways. Last year, roughly 5,200 alumni contributed nearly $902,000 to the univeristy, which was a 7% increase from 2007-08. In addition to their generous donations, our committed alumni have volunteered more than 500 hours over the past year. They have helped coordinate and staff alumni events and organize alumni chapters. Alumni have also served as admissions recruiters, student mentors and guest speakers in classes and for student organizations.

We are very thankful for the support our alumni offer. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to personally thank those alumni living in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ready for a cross-country road trip

The next two weeks will be quite busy for me with plenty of travel, including a flight to the West Coast, a 2,900-mile drive back to Bloomsburg and then a flight to the Rocky Mountain Region. Next week, I will be flying to Washington to meet my wife, Robbie.

As I mentioned in May, she has been involved in a National Science Foundation program with two of her colleagues from Central Washington University and 12 students from universities around the country. The two-month program is focused on water resource management in northwest China and included a four-week research trip to China, where the American students and faculty collaborated with Chinese colleagues. BU students are encouraged to apply for this unique international program, which will continue for at least the next two summers.

Robbie and I will visit our former hometown, Ellensburg, to pick up one of our horses — a 6-year-old, gray, quarter horse mare, Ariel, to bring back to Bloomsburg with us. Before we leave, Robbie and I will make sure we have a blues burger at The Tav and buy some of our favorite Washington red wines. Also, it will be nice to spend a couple of days with my son, Andrew, who is a senior anthropology major at Central university.

As we head home, we will spend three nights on the road with planned stops in Montana, South Dakota and Indiana. We made reservations for Ariel at equine motels and stock companies each night, as we will stay in nearby motels. We have never transported one of our three horses on a 2,900-mile trip across the country. It should be quite an adventure.

In Bloomsburg, Ariel will join our two geldings that came with us when we arrived early last year. Yes, we get great pleasure and relaxation from trail riding in beautiful central Pennsylvania. So far, our favorite rides have been in the state game lands adjacent to Red Roof Farm, where we board our horses just north of Jerseytown.

Alas, there will be no time to ride until next month as the following week I will be attending an annual PASSHE planning retreat before flying to Denver to meet some BU alumni.