Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A title and a response to adversity

Our field hockey team kicked off this week in grand fashion, winning their fourth consecutive NCAA Division II national championship Sunday with a 3-2 victory over UMass-Lowell. It’s the program’s 16th title overall and the last for our legendary coach Jan Hutchinson, who recently announced her plans to retire after the softball season – a team she has also coached to national prominence in more than 30 years at BU.

We welcomed the news of the field hockey championship after the disappointing ending to our football season with three losses. We’ve confronted losses off the athletic field - as well this fall - as we’ve dealt with several reported thefts on campus, which have included laptops, computers and small electronics. Not only have campus resources been stolen, but items owned by students, faculty and staff have been taken, as well. Theft plagues many campuses, but we certainly don’t view this as accepted behavior here at BU, where safety and security remain among our top priorities.

Last week, we responded to a report of several computers and small digital devices being stolen from offices in Centennial Hall, including a laptop reportedly containing social security numbers from student rosters of psychology classes from spring 2004 through summer 2006. The university replaced social security numbers with alternate student identification numbers in fall 2006, because we take our responsibility as personal data stewards very seriously. Unfortunately, the student rosters on the stolen laptop were stored prior to this change.

We are making every attempt to contact all 574 students who were enrolled in these psychology classes by first-class letter and e-mail to alert them to what took place. We also encouraged them to sign up for free credit monitoring with one of the three major credit bureaus to watch for any suspicious activity. BU is diligent in maintaining the privacy of student information and, as we move forward, we will take appropriate steps to ensure that information on individual university computers is more secure.

As members of the BU community, we all have a great stake in the campus -- it's where we learn, work, socialize and for many of us live. The recent thefts have been unsettling, but through increased communication and collaboration we can deter thefts and work together to maintain the safety of this campus.

Monday, November 9, 2009

School spirit reaches high level

As we hit the home stretch of the fall semester with finals week a month away, our students have gotten a healthy break from the rigors of study to root for several of our sports teams making playoff runs. The success of our fall sports teams is a true testament of the quality balance we have on campus with academics and athletics, where student athletes excel on the playing field and in the classroom. Many more students are great in supporting roles helping these teams as managers and staff, as well as being loyal fans in the stands.

The fall season got off to a great start with our football team gaining national attention as one of the top Division II teams, reaching No. 4 in the rankings before dropping the last three games. Despite those loses, the team ended up ranked sixth in the Super Region but was bumped from the NCAA playoffs due to an obscure rule. I’ve really enjoyed this season, especially joining the cheerleaders on the sidelines doing push-ups after every touchdown. I’ll now be giving my arms and shoulders a rest until next fall.

School spirit hasn’t stopped there as our cross country teams placed well in the conference meet, highlighted by the women’s team finishing second overall. They then finished third in the Atlantic Region championships on Saturday and earned a trip to the NCAA Division II Championships next weekend

It was wonderful to see both soccer teams advanced to the playoffs. For the men’s team, it was their first trip in six seasons. The men lost to No. 1 Millersville in the semifinals, and the women lost to West Chester in the quarter finals. It was wonderful to see the men exceed preseason expectations and the women continuing their established success.

The spotlight, for a special reason this fall, is cast on our traditional national power field hockey team that is again looking strong to compete for the title. A 16th NCAA Division II title is likely would be the icing on the cake as our university prepares to say good-bye to the team’s legendary coach, Jan Hutchinson, who recently announced her intentions to retire after the spring softball season.

In her 32-year career, Hutchinson has amassed more than 1,750 victories coaching field hockey and softball. As head field hockey coach, she is in charge of a program that has won 15 national championships and 16 conference titles in 28 years. As softball coach, she is the NCAA Division II all-time leader in career wins and has made a record 27 consecutive trips to the Division II tournament. But if you really want to know the true impact she has had on our university, just ask any of her current or former players.

As we close the book on another great fall sports season, I continue to be impressed and delighted by our outstanding student-athletes and the contributions they make to Bloomsburg University.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Artist series adds to the BU experience

Now in its 24th season, the Celebrity Artist Series is one of the many opportunities where students and community neighbors can enjoy arts and culture here on campus. I enjoy seeing the campus filled with people heading to the Haas Center for the Arts for a performance. After seeing for myself what the artist series has to offer, I’m sure the audience leaves with another great impression of our university.

This season brings even more excitement as it returns to the newly renovated Haas Center, which has been completely updated and expanded to house our music, theater and dance department. It also features an art gallery and theater production shop. To truly appreciate the improvements, you have to see it for yourself.

Additionally, the renovation transformed the artist series’ home — the 2,000 seat Mitrani Hall — into a wonderful showcase for entertainment, making it one of the preeminent arts facilities in north central Pennsylvania. The Haas Center is a great place to visit and enjoy the great work of our campus community, such as art exhibits by faculty and music performances of our student ensembles. The artist series only adds to that experience. I try to attend these events as often as I can, as I did last weekend with my wife, Robbie, to watch the captivating performance of Cirque Le Masque.

I enjoy the artist series, because it offers such a variety of entertainment. The next show on Saturday features Yamato, the Drummers of Japan, who perform with several dozen drums made of animal skins and ancient trees. This month will also feature the Ten Tenors and a special lecture by Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard. In December we will have Annie as our Broadway show for the season. We will also see a professional dance company, jazz festival and ballet theatre visit campus in the Spring as part of the series. I encourage you to learn about these upcoming performances on the Web site and hope to see you filing into the Haas Center this season.