Monday, December 14, 2009

Another semester in the books

My walk to Carver Hall across campus to start the day has been greeted of late with a biting chill in the air and a light coat of snow on the ground. That means two things. I need to switch to my winter jacket, and the fall semester is coming to a close.

Finals Week begins today. I especially enjoy the energy of campus during this particular week, because I know higher education is in high gear. Faculty are wrapping up their courses, and students are working hard to finish projects. Some of you are conducting end-of-course presentations while others probably are cramming to get research papers done and textbook chapters read. It's a key lesson at this juncture of every semester, especially for freshmen, on time management and workload priorities.

I remember my first set of college finals, about 40 years ago, were quite intimidating. In those days the semesters were longer and ended in January. That meant you had the holidays to study, but it also meant there was the dread of finals hanging over your school vacation. My advice to freshman is to study in a focused and efficient manner, review coursework with other students in your class if possible and don't stay up all night to cram.

The semester officially ends with winter commencement. Four hundred and eighty (480) students will be awarded bachelor or master's degrees during our winter commencement ceremonies, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 18 and 19, in Mitrani Hall, Haas Center for the Arts. They have worked hard to get here, and I'm always proud to shake their hand on the graduation stage. It's a moment that makes being president of Bloomsburg University very special.

Best of luck to our students this week and to all who are searching deep in their closets for that winter jacket. Have a pleasant and relaxing vacation and holiday season.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New strategic plan underway

At the beginning of this academic year, I said I would be working with members of the BU community to create a long-range strategic plan. Our plan, as I envision it, will build upon our legacy of success from previous generations of administration, faculty, staff and students. I'm delighted to say we are making very good progress.

It began in September with the first meeting of the Strategic Planning and Resource Council (SPARC), a group representing all sectors of the university community. SPARC was charged with producing preliminary mission, vision and value statements that will eventually be shared with the entire BU community for input.

After completing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, SPARC met for guidance and input with Dr. Madeline Adler, the former president of West Chester University who is now a consultant with Penson Associates Inc. Dr. Adler led West Chester through more than one intensive, successful strategic process during her tenure.

I met Dr. Adler about two years ago at one of my first PASSHE Presidents' meetings after she had announced her retirement. I was impressed with her intelligence and insightfulness and quickly recognized she is a person who is comfortable taking bold actions and setting stretch goals. When the opportunity presented itself, I knew she would be the right person to guide BU through our strategic planning process.

Last week, Dr. Adler visited our campus leading the SPARC team through intense discussions and working sessions to begin to define:
  • "Who we are" as an institution; what makes us distinct from not only the other 13 PASSHE institutions, but from all regional comprehensive universities;

  • What we value as an institution, as demonstrated through our daily actions, interactions and operations; and

  • What we aspire to be as an institution
I'm pleased with the group's hard work and significant progress last week, but there is still much to be done. When the draft statements are completed in January 2010, SPARC members will present them to the entire BU community for review, input and feedback.

SPARC has been charged with leading the strategic planning efforts, but involvement from the entire BU community - faculty, staff, students, alumni and administration - will be the hallmark of developing a successful strategic plan for our future. The greater Bloomsburg community will be consulted as well. As we enter this next phase of development and change at BU, I invite you to participate and become engaged in these strategic planning efforts.