Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another semester to celebrate

Another eventful and productive year at Bloomsburg University comes to a close as we conclude the fall 2010 semester and begin to enjoy the holidays with friends and family.

Our campus will remain relatively quiet for five weeks until it bustles again with students and faculty returning for the spring semester. A much-needed holiday break is upon us, and one we definitely deserve after such a busy semester.

It was a semester of:

  • Landmark moments, including a campus walk to commemorate a significant event in the Civil Rights movement 55 years ago, the unveiling of the renovations at Hartline Science Center and Nelson Field House and our annual Breast Cancer 5K Walk/Run fundraiser which raised a record $11,000.

  • New projects, such as an effort by our language students to introduce French and Spanish to local elementary students and a highly successful weekly on-campus Farmer’s Market.

  • Community service, including sororities who used a meet-and-greet to introduce freshmen to their volunteer service endeavors and more than 50 students joining together to help our neighboring communities become more environmentally clean.

There has been plenty to celebrate this fall, and the holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on everyday simple gifts. Please enjoy this special holiday greeting from Bloomsburg University. Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Answering the call for economic recovery

Three weeks ago, I was involved in discussions with fellow presidents from more than 200 state colleges and universities trying to find solutions to this country’s decline in college-educated professionals in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. This shortage exists at the same time there is a growing need for a highly educated workforce to drive the economic recovery.

In a few days, Bloomsburg University will be doing its part to remedy this trend by ushering more than 650 well-rounded, highly educated graduates into these and other job markets. Many will enter the areas we presidents discussed at the annual meeting of the American Association of State College and Universities (AASCU).

One hundred sixty-five students will receive master’s degrees during graduate commencement Friday, Dec. 17, and 500 bachelor’s degrees will be conferred during two undergraduate commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 18.

Graduation is a wonderful reminder of why we’re here: developing young adults into responsible citizens and preparing them to be leaders in their chosen field. With pride, I will shake hands with the December graduates -- 170 more than last December. It’s a confirmation we’re doing our job as a higher education institution … and doing it well.

This weekend’s ceremonies will also remind me of the many challenges we face as a public university. A key focus of the AASCU annual meeting was identifying methods to make sure we continue to achieve academic excellence while ensuring fiscal sustainability. This is becoming more challenging each year.

Pennsylvania and virtually every other state government is decreasing funding to public higher education, making it increasingly difficult for many citizens to obtain a college degree at a reasonable cost. John C. Cavanaugh, the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, attended the AASCU meeting, as well as presidents of several fellow PASSHE universities. Being together and away from our campuses gave us some time for informal discussions of the financial and public policy issues we face as public universities in Pennsylvania.

It’s always a pleasure to reunite with colleagues from around the country who are serving as public university presidents, as I did at the AASCU meeting. One old friend who was a dean with me at Cal State Los Angeles in the mid-1990s is the president of SUNY Cobleskill. Another, who is president of Northeastern Oklahoma University, was part of the group I participated in that founded the AASCU American Democracy Project. We have all dedicated our careers to the fostering and enhancement of public higher education and continue to work together to educate more Americans at an affordable cost.

I’ll again see the fruits of our mission this weekend as I look across the stage to the many friends and family who will be immensely proud of their newly minted graduate. Some families will be greeting their first-ever college graduate. Those moments are a great beginning to the holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Taking the BU experience global

In recent weeks, our students have had several opportunities to learn about studying in countries around the world. These rewarding learning experiences are often made possible through scholarship awards, as well as Bloomsburg University’s growing study abroad network.

Now it’s time for students to decide where they’d like to extend their BU experience this summer. Some will spend a month exploring Africa, while others will travel through Europe and China. Students also may study in Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Morocco and Spain.

Each location comes with its own unique culture, rich history and opportunities for students to immerse themselves into daily life of that country. We had several students blog about their international experiences last summer, giving us a snapshot into seeing the world in a new light.

What students receive from a study aboard program cannot be replicated in a textbook or classroom. That’s why BU encourages as many students as possible to take advantage of at least one of these programs.

In fact, some students find the experience so rewarding they go on multiple study abroad trips before they graduate. For example, a student could choose to take part in BU’s Central Europe Program this summer exploring parts of Amsterdam, Brussels, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest and Prague while studying castles, crown jewels, political briefings and famous works of art. And next summer the student could participate in the Africa Study Abroad Program, visiting historic and cultural sites in Ethiopia and experiencing a real safari in Waza Park, Cameroon.

BU's campus may be located in a rural county in Northeast Pennsylvania, but these study abroad opportunities prove our institution’s reach is worldwide.

Monday, November 15, 2010

BU’s stewardship of America’s future

Recent events have cast a spotlight on two key initiatives helping to solidify Bloomsburg University’s future: the unveiling of our new strategic plan, Impact 2015: Building on the Past, Leading for the Future, and the extensive and intensive faculty review of the general education task force proposal.

Both initiatives are essential to building on BU’s standard of academic excellence while tackling the challenges of the changing economic landscape facing higher education. From Nov. 21 to 23, I will share the steps we’re taking at Bloomsburg with fellow university presidents and chief executive leaders at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting in Charleston, S.C. Just as important, I will have a chance to hear how other schools are approaching these same challenges.

More than 420 public colleges and universities, ranging in size from 1,000 to 44,000 students, are members of AASCU, including Bloomsburg University. The association was established nearly 50 years ago in response to the growing impact the federal government had on higher education, particularly in relation to research grants and federal assistance programs – two avenues of financial support BU actively pursues. AASCU serves as a strong national presence representing the interests of students in public colleges and universities, especially in efforts to address higher education policy and the declining government appropriations. I am pleased to have been selected to serve on the AASCU Committee on Policies and Practices and look forward to a meeting of this committee of 15 presidents during the annual meeting.

This year’s theme, Stewardship for America’s Future, will focus on specific institutional strategies to help advance public progress in areas such as P-20 education, economic competitiveness and charting the future of our regions and communities. In addition, there will be discussions on key internal leadership challenges, such as identifying new revenue sources, setting academic priorities, budgeting strategically and leading institutional realignment and change.

There is plenty on the agenda for this three-day meeting – workshops on partnering with regional school districts to advance college success, strategies for boosting productivity and public perceptions in higher education, and the role of the regional comprehensive university in meeting the needs of community college transfer students. Seminars, presentations and workshops will cover key issues we, as university presidents, must address to position our institutions for success in this challenging environment of higher education. Working together will surely aid us in these efforts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A new look to Bloomsburg University

Amongst the excitement of this fall semester has been the much-anticipated openings of two renovated buildings on campus, Hartline Science Center and Nelson Field House. Both projects are finished, in use and ready for a formal dedication, which we will do on Friday, Nov. 12.

We expect to be joined for the dedications by descendents of the buildings’ namesakes, as well as members of the campus community, alumni and area residents. The Hartline rededication will begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by Nelson’s rededication ceremony at 6:30 p.m. just before our wrestling team hosts Penn State University at 7 p.m. I encourage all to join the tours of each building following the respective ceremonies. This will be an opportune time to see the results of the hard work done by the contractors and the investment Bloomsburg University has made to ensure our students have access to the most up-to-date technology and conveniences.

Hartline, the largest science facility in northeast Pennsylvania, is designed to meet the needs of the growing programs in the College of Science and Technology. The renovated East Wing, which was the original portion of Hartline, allows BU to make long-needed laboratory curricular adjustments and acquire cutting-edge instrumentation in areas ranging from biology to physics.

The laboratories are now equipped with the latest in fume-hood technology, which will save energy, increase safety, and reduce air flow, making doors easier to open. Miles of telecommunications cables wind through the ceiling and walls connecting to high-resolution projection units, high-speed networks and experimental laboratories, a vital consideration for any science building.

Nelson now features a new entranceway, basketball court and football locker room along with renovated offices and labs for our growing exercise science program, including the recently nationally accredited Clinical Athletic Training graduate program. The renovation is a fitting tribute to Dr. Elna Harrison Nelson, a faculty member at Bloomsburg for 21 years, where he also served as director of health education from 1924 to 1945. As a noted sports fan, he coached many teams, including Bloomsburg’s undefeated baseball team in 1935.

As both of these facilities come on line, I look forward to next year when our students will benefit from the current project on campus — the renovation of Sutliff Hall, home of our College of Business.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A model approach to general education

This week the Bloomsburg University Curriculum Committee (BUCC) will begin an extensive review of a new general education plan we believe will become a model for higher education.

Some college students, it seems, view general education courses as unnecessary and unrelated while they apply stronger focus on the academic requirements of their major and minor. Nothing could be further from the truth. A general education curriculum is a very important piece of students’ higher education experience forming the core competencies of their education and helping them foster a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the world, its possibilities and their part in it.

BU is working to transform its general education curriculum to meet the needs of the ever-changing, multicultural world of the 21st Century. A significant change — one I feel is extremely innovative — is to base general education on learning outcomes and move beyond the general education content in the standard 120 credit hours most students need to graduate to a system based on General Education Units (GEUs) aligned with the general education goals. A strong foundation of credit hours would continue to exist, but students would also receive some general education units for approved co-curricular activities, such as an international study abroad experience or having a leadership role in the Community Government Association.

This new plan opens doors for students studying in programs with rigid requirements, such as nursing and teacher education, who currently cannot fit elective courses into their tight academic schedules. The proposed GEU system will ensure all students get both breadth and depth in their BU educational experience.

I truly appreciate our General Education Task Force’s work during the past year and a half to create a thorough and innovative proposal. As with any proposal, the current draft is not set in stone and changes have been suggested to make it the best plan for our university. In fact, the proposal sparked a spirited e-mail debate among faculty in recent weeks. The next phase in the approval process goes to BUCC, which will welcome comments and input at public meetings on Wednesdays, Nov. 3 and 17, at 3 p.m. in the Schweiker Room of Andruss Library.

I encourage all who have an interest in this proposal, including students as well as faculty, to participate in these BUCC meetings and help make our new general education program the best possible educational experience for our students and a model plan for other universities to follow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A healthy dialogue with student leaders

Last week, I had the privilege of joining the Community Government Association (CGA) Senate meeting where I fielded questions from students ranging from curriculum concerns to off-campus issues and tuition inquiries. The Q&A lasted nearly 45 minutes. I was very impressed with the students’ openness to ask me tough questions that show their genuine concern for maintaining a high quality of education and life here at Bloomsburg University.

The invitation to the student Senate meeting also gave me a chance to hear directly from the student leaders, who in turn serve as liaisons for the student body. We covered a lot of ground, cleared up a few misconceptions and laid the foundation for what I hope are regular open discussions between the students and me.

In addition to many key issues, such as off-campus housing and student parking, I was glad to hear one important topic that was brought up. It allowed me to set the record straight on a misconception that filters throughout the community. One student asked how the recent building renovations and expansion translated into tuition increases, which BU has seen over the past two years set by PASSHE. His belief, as many hold, is the university had to raise tuition to cover the cost of construction.

In reality, Bloomsburg University does not control tuition rates. They are annually established by PASSHE in the summer for the following academic year across the entire State System. In addition, the money used to fund construction projects comes from a capital budget, which is completely separate from the operational budget that impacts tuition. I was also able to inform the students that these building projects not only help boost the local economy by providing work for construction companies but ensure BU continues to offer the best and most up-to-date facilities for students to live and learn in. This productive exchange was one of several I enjoyed last week, which I also believe the students appreciated.

Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t allow me to participate in these types of student forums as often as I wish I could, however, I enjoy hearing your comments and concerns. Feel free to share your thoughts with me while I’m walking on campus, attending a student event or through e-mail and my blog. The students who serve as representatives and senators on the CGA Senate are a communication link to me, too. And from what I saw last week, this Senate group is more than capable and motivated to serve the student body well and make a difference – not just for them — but for the classes of students who will be follow in the coming years.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Home(coming) is where the heart is

They say the best years of your life are spent at college. I wouldn’t argue with that. At no other time in your life will you be in an atmosphere like this that blends abundant opportunities to have fun with the tremendous amount of learning that forms the basis for great personal success well into retirement. It’s what we’re committed to here at Bloomsburg University and celebrate every October during Homecoming Weekend.

Earlier this month, the BU campus got off to a quick start to this year’s Homecoming: Rollin’ the Dice and Enjoying the Nights in Vegas, Oct. 23 to 24, when students decorated windows of their residence halls for a competition and began campaigning for their friends for Homecoming king and queen. It’s captivating to see our freshmen be filled with Husky spirit after only a few weeks on campus. This energy intertwines with the passion our alumni bring back from the far corners of the state and other areas of the country, as they return to a changing campus they once called their own.

I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley about 40 years ago and went on to graduate school more than 400 miles away at UCLA, never living closer to Berkeley than that. Yet I have revisited the UC Berkeley campus more than 30 times in those intervening years; most recently last month while on Bloomsburg University business in the San Francisco Bay area. Every visit is a true Homecoming for me. The sights, sounds and even the smells of the campus bring both nostalgia and excitement, as I visit the places that were so important to me in my undergraduate years and see all of the changes.

Last month, I was able to share my visit with a colleague from BU. I was delighted, and I don’t think he was too bored, as I showed him the dorm and fraternity house where I lived, the library where I spent so many hours studying, and the beautifully restored and renovated, 100-year-old Life Science Building where I studied and worked in my formative years as a biologist. I often make the return trip to campus with my freshman roommate and best friend, who teaches high school biology and chemistry in the area.

Many BU alumni, including those in the Class of 1960 celebrating their 50-class reunion this year, will be surprised to see how much our campus has grown, especially upper campus with the newly renovated Nelson Field House and the Jessica Kozloff Apartments that opened in fall 2009. On the lower campus, alums can take notice of an updated Hartline Science Center and the gutted Sutfliff Hall that’s undergoing its own transformation to be completed next fall.

In addition to the sightseeing, there will be plenty of activities to enjoy with your family and old Husky friends on Saturday with the traditional BU/Bloomsburg High School Homecoming Parade, Alumni Tent Party at the Fenstemaker Alumni House, and of course, the Husky football game against one of our biggest rivals, the West Chester Golden Rams.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reacquainting with a growing student

This week’s blog contains a word of warning to those I call “freshmen parents.” That word is “beware.” When you come to visit your first-year student at Bloomsburg University during Parents and Family Weekend, Oct. 8 to 10, you will most likely find a young adult who seems very much like the person you moved into a residence hall room in late August … but is, somehow, different.

College, even just six weeks of college, has a way of changing the parent-child relationship. As president, it will be a delight for me this weekend to watch so many proud parents greet their college freshmen for the first time since move-in day in late August. I’ll also enjoy seeing our students show their parents how well they have transitioned to college and introduce them to aspects of the BU experience not seen on campus tours or at orientation.

This year, we’re celebrating our 40th Parents and Family Weekend with a long list of activities and events for all to enjoy. Some of the highlights include a performance by Joshua Seth, a comedic hypnotist whose act has become a hit on college campuses across the country; Quest clinics on the high ropes course and climbing wall; miniature golf and live music on the Academic Quad; and field hockey, men’s soccer and women’s soccer competitions on upper campus.

I’m really looking forward to two events in particular. I’ll host an open forum on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 11 a.m. in McCormick Center, room 1303, where I’ll update parents on campus events and answer their questions. This is an opportune time for me to connect with parents and put a face to Bloomsburg University.

Later that evening, my wife, Robbie, and I will enjoy a journey back to the days of disco with the Boogie Wonder Band at the Haas Center for the Arts. This 10-member band will bring a high level of energy and wild fashion to the stage as the second performance of our Celebrity Artist Series’ 25th anniversary season. There will be two exciting performance, one at 2 p.m. and the other at 8 p.m.

With wonderful weather in the forecast, it’s shaping up to be a pleasant and relaxing weekend on campus. I hope to meet many of you as you’re becoming reacquainted with your student.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Doing more with less

Three thousand miles may separate the West Coast from Bloomsburg University, but the distance doesn’t diminish the love and pride our alumni and friends have for our university. I saw this firsthand recently when I traveled to California with Erik Evans, vice president for University Advancement, to meet several alumni and prospective donors.

I enjoy these trips, both short distances and across the country, because they give me an opportunity to see how successful our graduates become after leaving their mark on campus. It also gives me a chance to personally update our Husky faithful on the great advancements our university has made in the classroom, through renovations, scholarly activity, and skilled teaching and learning. Even more important, it’s a chance for me to reaffirm our increasing need for donor support, which helps BU plan for the future and provide financial assistance to students. Today, as many as 80 percent of our students receive some form of financial aid.

Although recent news reports announced the recession ended months ago, it’s no secret the economy continues to struggle. This has direct impact on our university budget as we face decreasing state government support each year. Unfortunately, a change in momentum is very unlikely. With state appropriation to PASSHE schools at an all-time low of 29 percent – down from roughly 40 percent a decade ago – it’s increasingly important to generate our own revenue and become self-sustaining.

The recently unveiled new strategic plan, Impact 2015: Building on the Past, Leading for the Future, emphasizes our need to identify and develop new resources, one of the main reasons for my California trip. This will help BU maintain fiscal responsibility and enhance academic excellence, while becoming less dependent on tuition and state appropriations. As months go by, you’ll hear more about a new initiative, the Henry Carver Fund, named for our first president and geared to raising financial support to meet immediate needs.

Support for our university, both monetary and in-kind, will allow our students to continue to choose Bloomsburg as a place where they can attain a high-quality education that’s within their family’s financial reach. Whether you’re near or far, I hope we can count on your support.

Monday, September 20, 2010

BU community to support local charities

A very important campaign has begun on campus; one that has immediate impact on thousands of children and needy families, locally and worldwide. Bloomsburg University has been a supporter and contributor to the SECA (State Employee Combined Appeal) Campaign for more than 30 years. This year, our campaign kicked off Sept. 13 and continues through Oct. 22.

It’s a great partnership we have with the community, as well as charities around the globe. Our SECA campaign, along with the United Way of Columbia County, supports numerous nonprofit agencies which, in turn, benefit local families through services, such as summer camps, day care, community health awareness and afterschool education.

Some of the local agencies who benefit directly from our SECA Campaign include the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum, Bloomsburg Public Library, Boy Scouts of America in Columbia-Montour counties, Camp Victory in Millville and local chapters of the American Red Cross and American Cancer Society.

A wonderful perk of the campaign is the ability of our faculty and staff to choose which charities will receive their contributions. That provides an even stronger commitment to the campaign and an emotional connection to making a difference. It’s very rewarding to know our contributions often go to work immediately and, thanks to low administrative costs, more than 90 percent of each donation goes to the selected organizations.

The SECA Campaign is one of many examples of how BU’s faculty and staff connect with both neighbors in the local community and those worldwide. It’s also a prime opportunity for our campus community to join together for a wonderful cause with lasting results.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Unveiling an impactful plan for the future

We will be setting a wonderful precedent this week when the campus joins together for the unveiling of Bloomsburg University’s new strategic plan, Impact 2015: Building on the Past, Leading for the Future. The special Forum, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. in Kehr Union, is the culmination of a year’s worth of work and collaboration between the university and local community. This special event launches the next step in our ongoing process of building on BU’s standard of academic excellence.

In a series of meetings over the past year, representatives from across the campus composed new mission, vision and value statements. This group – the Strategic Planning and Resource Council (SPARC) – also determined the challenges and opportunities facing BU over the next three to five years and how to meet them. This plan, which will be unveiled to the public for the first time, will set the tone for how we will tackle these challenges and take advantage of our opportunities.

So far in this strategic planning process we:

• evaluated who we are as an institution, reviewing what makes us distinct from not only the other 13 PASSHE institutions but from all regional comprehensive universities,

• looked at what we value as an institution, as demonstrated through our daily actions, interactions and operations,

• and determined what we aspire to be as an institution.

SPARC is leading the strategic planning efforts, but involvement from the entire BU community, as well as the greater Bloomsburg community, will be the hallmark of a successful plan. As we enter this next phase of development and change at BU, I invite you to become actively engaged in these strategic planning efforts. This special open forum is the perfect opportunity to join in, to become a part of the plan that will carry BU into the future. All members of the campus community are invited to participate.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BU mourns the loss of a student

As president of Bloomsburg University and father of three adult children, my heart goes out to the family and friends of student-athlete Brian Savage, who passed away overnight Friday at an off-campus apartment.

Our entire campus community feels the tragic loss of this 19-year-old soccer player from Elizabethtown. It is always painfully difficult to inform a student’s family of news of this nature. The shock still lingers as we continue to mourn the loss of this young man who was beginning his sophomore year and second season on the Huskies men’s soccer team.

This tragedy was felt immediately, as evident by more than 100 messages left on his Facebook page as of Tuesday afternoon. We continue to offer our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. Although the official cause of death has yet to be determined, it is believed alcohol played a role in Brian’s death. Even the suspicion of alcohol warrants a strong reminder of how dangerous it can be for those of legal age and younger. This tragedy reinforces our commitment to be vigilant, to stress to our students through a variety of educational programs the dangers of alcohol and the serious results of binge drinking.

Despite these warnings, we still have too many students engaging in binge drinking which is often a behavior begun in high school. In the wake of this tragedy, I urge students and parents to take notice once again of how dangerous alcohol use can be. Parents, please take time to speak with your son or daughter about the importance of making responsible and safe decisions. We understand the college experience is a time for young adults to grow into young leaders, something we relish in doing here at Bloomsburg.

Although it seems many young people view alcohol consumption as a right of passage, BU does not condone or permit the use of alcohol on campus or at university-affiliated, off-campus housing. And we certainly do not condone underage drinking. Our alcohol awareness programs begin with our incoming freshmen orientation programs, and an active campus group, DAWN (Drug Alcohol Awareness Network), offers an open door to students who need help or simply have a question to be answered.

But regardless of the cause, we have lost a member of our community much too soon. Our counseling staff stands by to assist students and staff during this time of loss.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Let’s begin another fulfilling academic year

Our students, including a record number of nearly 2,600 first-year and transfer students, have settled back onto campus and in the Bloomsburg community for the 2010-11 academic year that begins today. Building on a busy and productive summer, this new school year promises to be just as thrilling as last year … possibly even more.

We have so much to look forward to: from another entertaining season of the Celebrity Artist Series and the enthusiasm of Huskies football to our first-ever community movie night on the Academic Quad and a first look at the recently completed renovation of Hartline Science Center. There’s plenty more to come, so be sure to visit my blog each week.

In the meantime, I am delighted to share this personal video message. Welcome back!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A summer filled with progress and success

A busy and productive summer has come to a close. Next week we welcome to campus our largest class of new students in the history of Bloomsburg University and begin another chapter of academic excellence with the new fall semester classes beginning on Aug. 30.

Until then, I’m finishing my fast-paced summer in Washington enjoying time with my growing family. Two new members joined the Soltz clan this summer — our third granddaughter, born just two months ago to my daughter and her husband, and our new daughter-in-law, who married our youngest son earlier this month. As I reflect on the summer, which was possibly one of the busiest ever for our Husky community as well as my family, I’m filled with immense pride of being president of this university.

And here’s why:

The summer kicked off with the Academic Quad’s largest commencement ceremonies, when nearly 1,200 seniors graduated with bachelor’s degrees. This was preceded by nearly 180 graduates earning master’s degrees and seven graduates receiving doctorates the evening before. Over the next three months, our students and faculty continued the tradition of BU’s academic excellence with a wide range of teaching, professional development, and research activities at multiple venues around the world and here on campus.

A few early highlights included faculty and students collaborating with UCLA to study lunar soil samples collected from the Apollo 16 mission, BU Quest’s hiking trip to the summit of Mount Saint Helens and a faculty Fulbright scholar continuing his research in England on a unique form of child play called playwork.

By mid-summer our students were completing prestigious internships with organizations such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the federal Defense Cyber Crime Institute, as well as numerous study abroad experiences that spanned Africa, Mexico, Morocco and Europe. Students took advantage of shorter research trips to Egypt and Spain and a respected creative writing institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In addition, our first team of students completed requirements of our new nanotechnology track at Penn State University.

Our campus was just as busy this summer. Quest continued its popular summer adventure camps, which drew youths ages 6 to 17 years from around the region. Upper campus was the site of the National Soccer Coaching Association of America’s coaching academies with nearly 200 soccer coaches from the U.S., Canada, Malaysia, India, Jamaica and England participating, and myriad sports camps (attended by more than 1,000 young women and men).

Our connection to the community strengthened with the continued success of our Math and Science Summer Experience, Migrant Leadership Institute, TRiO Upward Bound Summer Program and Camp HERO, an annual week-long experience for children who are deaf or hard of hearing coordinated by students in our Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program. In addition, our Act 101/EOP pre-college summer program finished another successful session with nearly 200 students, many of whom are first-generation college students.

And, last but not least, Bloomsburg University’s summer college offered three sessions, growing to meet the needs of baccalaureate students who want to continue working toward their degrees in our air-conditioned classrooms. There was a time when a college campus was a quiet place during the summer. Not any more!

Monday, August 2, 2010

A top-quality education with great results

At Bloomsburg University, we pride ourselves on providing a top-quality education at a very affordable price, in spite of a budget impacted annually by decreasing state government funding. This coming year will be no different. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors established a budget which calls for a 4.5 percent increase in tuition for the 2010-11 academic year. The increase equates to $250 more a year for a full-time, in-state student.

BU and our 13 sister universities are not alone in facing tough economic challenges. Penn State University recently increased tuition 5.9 percent, or roughly $810, and other universities in the state and our region are doing the same. PASSHE has kept cost increases to a minimum. Overall, tuition increases at the state system universities have not risen above the rate of inflation in four of the last five years, keeping our tuition much more affordable than most private universities. At the current rate, four years of tuition at BU for a full-time, in-state student is less than $23,300.

And for that affordable price, BU is producing tremendous results. Nearly 86 percent of our Class of 2009 graduates are permanently employed or continuing their education. And our current students are proving to be great young leaders before they hit the job market.

Just this summer we have seen students apply their classroom education across the world to make an impact in many areas of society. An education student spent a month in Zambia, Africa, studying the effects of education on at-risk youth. A planetary science student assisted the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum with lunar research. A language student spent six weeks in Xalapa, Mexico, researching how professors at Bloomsburg University and Universidad Veracruzana assess language learning and multiple learning styles. A management student recently won a highly competitive scholarship, allowing him to serve as a student assistant this fall at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ annual Global Conference in San Diego, Calif. And these are just a sample of the co-curricular activities our students engaged in this summer.

Our year-round academic excellence is comprehensive across campus and in all educational disciplines. The quality of our academic programs, faculty and staff is responsible for the highest enrollment numbers we have ever seen, including another expected record number of freshmen arriving this fall. We are proud to provide our students with an excellent education that prepares them for personal and professional success in an increasingly complex global environment at a cost that does not leave them with excessive debt.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A new chapter in business

We welcomed a new face to campus this month when Michael Tidwell began his duties as the dean of the College of Business. Dr. Tidwell comes to Bloomsburg from Clayton State University’s School of Business, near Atlanta, Ga., where he was assistant dean and associate professor of management.

Dr. Tidwell brings a wealth of experience from across the country and around the globe. He taught at the University of Kentucky, Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., and Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. His also served as a visiting professor at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, and CHM College and Birla College in India and led study abroad trips in South Africa. Outside of academics, Dr. Tidwell worked in the marketing department of Epson America. His research interests include employee intelligence, organizational socialization within multinational corporations and organizational identity.

As we welcome Dr. Tidwell, we also thank Dr. Dennis Gehris who has been leading the College of Business as its interim dean and directed the steps needed for our College of Business to maintain its prestigious accreditation by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Initially accredited in December 2004, our College of Business is one of just 593 schools of business, or less than 5 percent worldwide, to earn AACSB accreditation.

Dr. Tidwell also begins his new position amidst an important renovation to Sutliff Hall, which houses our business program. The project, which should be completed by next fall, will include a new third floor and an addition facing the Academic Quad. The renovation will give much-needed room to a growing program that has proven to be among the best internationally.

And it’s not the only thing growing on campus. We expect to see more than 2,600 new students arrive for the fall to begin their Bloomsburg University experience. As you see, it will be a very busy and exciting year in the College of Business and for all of us across campus.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Meeting a growing family

After a month off from blogging, I’m catching up on my activities and important events for Bloomsburg University. So, I will pick up where we left off in May.

Shortly after our graduation my third granddaughter, Caoimhe Gallagher, was born to my daughter Laura in Long Beach, Cal. I could not be there but my wife, Grandma Robbie, assisted in the birth. We are delighted to welcome another little red-headed girl into our family, who I will be visiting her for the first time in mid-July.

In another important milestone for our family our youngest son, Andrew, graduated with a bachelor’s in anthropology from Central Washington University, where I served as provost for six years before coming to BU. It was great to celebrate his achievement and for a change to be in the audience rather than on the platform during a graduation. Andrew is working for a large environmental consulting firm in central Washington and getting married in August.

In late May, I had the privilege of traveling with about 10 BU faculty and emeriti to participate in the 19th annual meeting of the Global Awareness Society International at Jagiellonian University in Krakaw, Poland. Two BU students presented their undergraduate research projects to a group of scholars from 15 countries thanks to BU Foundation scholarships for international education. The multidisciplinary conference was enlightening and timely, and it was a privilege for me to deliver the opening keynote address, “The Increasing Importance of Global Awareness,” at the university where Copernicus studied in the 1490s.

Over the past two weeks, we welcomed almost 1,600 new fall freshman and their parents to campus during eight fact and fun packed one-day orientations. Each year the incoming freshman class continues to grow and once again, BU will have the largest class of well prepared freshman in our history. My thanks to orientation coordinator, Kristin Austin, the other dedicated staff in admissions, and the dozens of students who serve as OWLs (Orientation Workshop Leaders).

We are waiting for details on the allocations for higher education and BU from the state budget agreed to by the legislature and recently sent to the governor. As a sign of the current economic climate and reminder of the ever-changing landscape of higher education, PASSHE concluded a year-long process that led to discontinuation of several dozen degree programs across the state university system due to low enrollments.

Thankfully, Bloomsburg University was not among the eight schools that needed to make program cuts. Although our initial response is to feel relieved, the appropriate reaction is for us to continue to work harder in making sure our programs – large and small – remain strong, vibrant and relevant to our students, as well as meeting the needs of a competitive global workforce.

This commitment falls in line with our current strategic planning process, adding more emphasis on ensuring this long-range strategic plan is focused, concise and reflective of our mission to educate future leaders.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Expanding BU’s influence worldwide

While our campus eases into summer break, my focus shifts to a broader perspective. I’ll head to Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, from May 23 to 25 to speak at a global event aimed at making the world a more culturally supportive and peaceful place. And I won’t be alone on my international journey.

I will be joined at the 19th annual conference of the Global Awareness Society International (GASI) by several fellow Huskies, a collection of retired and current faculty and two students. My wife, Robbie, who is among those scheduled to speak, will also be a part of the Bloomsburg University contingent.

Together, we hope to build on the efforts of GASI to increase awareness of the cultural diversity existing across our global society and to promote the importance of world peace. This will be my third opportunity to speak at the annual GASI conference and this year as keynote speaker, I will discuss “The Increasing Need for Global Awareness.”

All of the presenters, including our students Laura Buffone and Raeesa Khan, are adding their expertise to this year’s theme, “Global Development and the Changing Balance of Power in World Affairs.” It’s a great opportunity for us, representing BU, to have an influence and play a key part in this vastly important cause.

In fact, the idea for this global organization originated on our campus. Dr. Chang Shub Roh, now faculty emeritus, co-founded GASI 20 years ago after experiencing war and seeing the importance of promoting peace. Roh, who remains a welcome member of our campus community, will be with us in Poland moderating a few panel discussions. It’s wonderful to see his idea, nurtured here at BU, grow to what it is now as a multi-day international event. And I’m most appreciative to have been able to be a part of its recent efforts to make this world a better place.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Family ties bringing us together

Last weekend’s commencement ceremonies offered me an opportunity to wear my ceremonial academic regalia, one of many hats I wear as president of Bloomsburg University. And this week brings with it yet another hat, one of I’m also quite familiar with – the hat of an experience traveler.

The majority of my traveling is a result of my duty to BU, representing the university at conferences, alumni events and public speaking engagements to name a few. This time I will be traveling with my wife, Robbie, for personal enjoyment. We're flying to California to visit with our only daughter, who is expecting her third child any day now. It our third granddaughter.

Knowing how exciting it was to see our first two granddaughters, I’m overjoyed to see for the first time the newest member of our family. Being with family is always special, especially at this time of year with spring in full bloom and being days removed from witnessing so many families share in the joy of graduation, some of which were the first for their families. Those are moments that deeply resonate with me and reaffirm my pride of being the university president.

We often talk about the importance of having a strong sense of Husky pride, building new and existing relationships with the local community, faculty, staff, prospective and current students, alumni and friends of the university. This pride is tied together by family, our Bloomsburg University family.

A poignant moment occurred on campus last week that served as a perfect example of this. In the middle of a passing rain storm, a groundskeeper kept busy planting maroon and gold mums on the Academic Quad for our outdoor graduation ceremonies instead of seeking shelter. He could’ve easily taken a break to go inside from the rain, something most of us on campus frantically did.

However, this staff member decided it was more important to him to make sure those beautiful flowers representing our school colors were planted in time than to make sure he stayed dry. These are the little things, which too often go unnoticed, that are the essence of what makes Bloomsburg University a wonderful place of higher education, a place to work and a place to simply be associated with.

As I complete this blog in California, we have conducted our beautiful graduation ceremonies and granted more than 1,350 undergraduate and graduate degrees, and my new granddaughter has yet to arrive. I want to recognize the faculty and staff who made it all work so well in spite of rain leading right up to the Saturday morning ceremony and winds that were the strongest I have ever experienced in Pennsylvania. I particularly want to single out Anita Hakim from the Office of the President for successfully coordinating the entire effort for many years.

Yes these wonderful celebrations of academic success are a tremendous team effort that involves well over one hundred individuals, and I sincerely thank them all, but without Anita’s loving care it would not come off so very well!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ending spring on a great note

This weekend we proudly welcome 1,197 new members to our alumni family in two commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 8, in our Academic Quadrangle. As is our custom, our graduate commencement will be held the evening before, Friday, May 7, in Mitrani Hall where seven graduates will receive doctor of audiology degrees and 173 will receive master’s degrees.

It’s not only a great celebration of the new graduates’ academic accomplishments, but a wonderful time to welcome to campus their friends and family, many of whom are BU alums.

Our undergraduate ceremonies will be addressed by two prominent Pennsylvania legislators – U.S. Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski in the morning and state Senator John R. Gordner in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to hearing the advice these respected, veteran politicians offer to our newly minted graduates as they begin their journey into an increasingly complex global environment.

The commencement ceremonies officially conclude another fast-paced, productive semester. While several building projects were under way and our strategic planning process continued moving forward, higher education stayed on track with students raising the bar for next semester with many great achievements and recognitions.

This spring we saw several student organizations excel at regional, state and national competitions, including the Forensics (speech and debate) Team and Society for Advancement of Management. The semester began with the successful launch of a campus-wide sustainability initiative, and more than 450 students welcomed spring with a local community service project, The Big Event. Numerous students earned scholarships, international fellowships and awards for their outstanding work in the classroom.

On Saturday, I watched our softball team clinch the PSAC championship by defeating California (Pa.) 7 to 5. What a great way for beloved coach Jan Hutchinson to end her final regular softball season. Now she and the young women athletes will pursue that elusive national championship.

We’ll soon get some relief from the end-of-the-semester rush, knowing summer and its well-earned break is on the horizon. However, the vacation will be brief. In just a few weeks, students will be on campus for the first summer school classes, new students and their parents will attend orientation and the cycle will begin anew.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bringing a new adventure to campus

A unique project is developing on our upper campus that will give Bloomsburg University students leadership-building opportunities and provide a valuable outdoor resource to an important segment of our population.

Nearly two dozen young adults in the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps are spending three days this week, April 27 to 29, helping to develop a wheelchair-accessible high ropes course near Nelson Field House for our Quest program – a leadership development program that offers extended and weekend trips and customized team-building experiences.

This innovative course, just like our current high ropes course, will help individuals and teams explore risk taking and face personal challenge, while building confidence, leadership and teamwork. Soon all people, regardless of their abilities, can enjoy adventurous thrills and the long-lasting benefits.

This type of collaboration demonstrates once again how well our university works with the community. Participants in the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps are able to hone the skills they’ve learned during their year of employment with this “signature project,” their term for a short-term, high-impact project. And with their assistance, we are able to develop the wheelchair-accessible high ropes course that’s been on our wish list. Everyone wins.

When completed, the wheelchair-accessible course will be the first of its size in our region and one of only a few nationwide. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished project. What a nice way to kick off our summer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A spring renaissance is coming

One of the aspects of living in Central Pennsylvania my wife, Robbie, and I most enjoy is our region’s great sense of community. This warm, inviting atmosphere is most evident in Bloomsburg during events such as the Renaissance Jamboree. Held on the last Saturday in April, which is April 24 this year, the Renaissance is co-sponsored by BU’s Program Board.

Our campus community is always involved in this event, from the earliest planning stages to volunteering to work in many booths along Main Street. Each year, more than 250 craftsmen and artisans display and sell their wares, non-profit organizations offer a variety of food and groups provide games and entertainment.

Members of the campus community are among the loyal volunteers, including the sisters of Phi Sigma Sigma, a social sorority who have taken part in Renaissance for at least eight years. In addition, our Community Government Association and Alumni Association are fixtures in festival booths along the street. Other participants include Spectrum Magazine, Kappa Phi, BU NOW, Protestant Campus Ministry, History Club and Kappa Sigma.

Renaissance comes at a good time in the spring, as we’re nearing the end of the semester with finals week right around the corner. It follows Block Party, which this year was a relatively safe and sane day for BU students and alumni to relax and blow off steam before heading into the home stretch toward finals and graduation.

The Renaissance Jamboree gives the campus community a great opportunity to take a final, calm break, enjoy the outdoors and celebrate with the townspeople many of the positive aspects of having our fine university located within such a great community.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Student safety, comfort to get even better

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend time with presidents from our sister universities at the quarterly PASSHE Board of Governors meeting in Harrisburg. I always enjoy sharing Bloomsburg’s news, hearing about their schools’ recent achievements and witnessing the board in action as members make the decisions that allow our institutions to prosper.

Among the key orders of business on April 8 was bond financing approval for several construction projects across the State System, including two important projects here at Bloomsburg. This decision allows BU to take the next step in developing these projects that have been on our “wish list” for several years.

One project, a much-needed pedestrian bridge linking Honeysuckle Apartments to campus at the Haas Center for the Arts, will enable students to walk from the apartment complex without crossing traffic on Lightstreet Road. Our facilities management team is still working on the design, so many of the details have yet to be determined; however, this is great news for improving the safety for our students.

The second project calls for a complete renovation of Elwell Hall. Plans include installing air conditioning in the entire building, creating a new lobby and building new student lounges. There’s also the possibly of adding a small pedestrian bridge over Second Street to connect the residence hall with Scranton Commons. More details must be finalized for the Elwell Hall project, but the board’s decision last week enables BU to move forward with both of these projects knowing that appropriate funding will be in place.

We are also conducting a housing study that looks at current and anticipated future student housing needs on campus in the Town of Bloomsburg. The study will be completed this summer and will assist us in meeting our goal of providing a variety of housing options on campus for at least 50 percent of our students.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our BU family comes home

Bloomsburg University’s campus will brim with excitement this weekend, April 9 to 11, when generations of Huskies and hundreds of potential students come together for our annual Alumni Weekend , coinciding with Siblings’ and Children’s Weekend. It will be a jam-packed three days spent honoring our university’s past, present and future.

I enjoy these types of events, and the campus really comes alive when we host so many people who share a love for BU. I’m particularly looking forward to talking with alumni who haven’t visited campus for quite some time. As you know, much has changed over the years as our campus has grown from a small college to a university. I’ll enjoy hearing stories from past generations, including those attending reunions of classes from the 1930s and 40s and the Navy V-12 World War II veterans who trained here and for whom Navy Hall is named.

Activity builds on Saturday with receptions at the Alumni House, campus tours, a Celebrity Artist Series concert and an awards luncheon honoring more than 425 alumni. I invite you to visit our Alumni Association’s Web site for a complete schedule of events.

While they are on campus, young children of our alumni may join youngsters related to our students, faculty and staff at free Siblings’ and Children’s Weekend activities, including the children’s carnival on the Academic Quad. This weekend event is a great opportunity to show off the campus to students’ siblings, host them overnight in the residence halls and introduce them to the great Bloomsburg experience they could enjoy themselves in years to come.

It’s not often we see so many generations on campus at one time. It’s truly witnessing the past, present and future of BU in action.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Women who inspire, lead and achieve

From the earliest days of our nation, women have made history - from Betsy Ross and Harriet Tubman to Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi. Women have had a huge impact on Bloomsburg University’s history, as well, exemplified by the 14-year presidency of my predecessor Jessica Kozloff and the two-term CGA presidency of Gia Adornetto, the first student in BU history to serve more than one term.

Women’s History Month provided an opportunity to recognize the contributions of women both on a large scale and on our campus. We recently capped our celebration at a campus reception where we honored the achievements of BU women and presented awards for outstanding achievement, scholarship and lasting inspiration.

For the first time, BU’s Commission on the Status of Women named two women as Outstanding Women of the Year – Marlyse Heaps, who is retiring in May as executive assistant to the provost following 35 years of service, and Deb Barnes, who retired in February as director of the Women’s Resource Center following 30 years of service. Receiving the Outstanding Courage Award was Rosemary Huber, secretary in the Department of Art and Art History, whose battle with lymphoma has inspired all of us and whose colleagues honored her by contributing pieces of artwork for a benefit silent auction earlier this year. Also presented were three student awards – to Lauren Heidelbaugh for Outstanding Leadership, Leisl Driver for Outstanding Scholarship and Christina Adenuga for Outstanding Service. Each of the many nominees received certificates and pins during our reception.

I was honored to take a few moments to talk about several of the important women in my life: my wife, Robbie, of course, and my professional mentors, including Jerilyn McIntyre, who was president of Central Washington University during my tenure as provost. And I was extremely proud to talk about my mother, our family’s very own Rosie the Riveter, who graduated from Ball State Teachers College in 1943 and used her English degree to help rewrite the training manual for women working at the retooled Studebaker War Plant during World War II.

As we’ve witnessed on the national and local level, women are leaders in many forms and venues. My appreciation and recognition of the contributions women have made to my personal and professional life extends to every day of the year.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Connecting with the community

Reaching out to the community will be the theme of this weekend for Bloomsburg University with The Big Event in full swing Saturday and a unique event Sunday bringing the campus together to help fight hunger and promote community art and action.

First on Saturday, nearly 600 BU students will take part in The Big Event, a community service project sponsored by our Community Government Association as a way to give back to the Town of Bloomsburg. Students will volunteer to tackle winter clean-up projects around town, concentrating on areas where students and residents are neighbors and public locations, such as Town Park and the Market Square Fountain.

Then on Sunday, we expect to see hundreds of students, along with many community neighbors, for our annual Empty Bowls Banquet benefitting the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Kehr Union Ballroom. The event is coordinated by our SOLVE (Students Organized to Learn through Volunteerism and Employment) office and is considered the biggest, single-day fundraiser for the local food cupboard.

More than 100 student volunteers helped coordinate the event, including hand-painting the bowls before they were sent off for firing. In addition, scores of community volunteers, our faculty and staff, stepped forward to create the soups, bread and organize live entertainment for the event. Just like The Big Event, this fundraiser brings out the best of our university and town working together for a great cause.

These community service efforts are a small part of BU’s ongoing initiative of volunteerism and civic engagement. Because of this commitment, BU was recently named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition of a college or university for its dedication to volunteering, service learning and civic engagement.

This year, the Corporation for National and Community Service recognized BU as one of only 16 percent of all higher education institutions honored for their impact on issues ranging from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice. Honorees are chosen based on a series of factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation, incentives for service and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

As we’ve passed the mid-term of our spring semester and get closer to May graduation, this weekend serves as a reminder of the huge role BU students plays in the everyday lives of local residents. Our students leave here with a valuable college degree, of course, but also an understanding of the difference volunteer service can make in the life of a community.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A big event to give back

Something great will happen next weekend, and it’s not the official first day of spring, although this first-time event is certainly tied to the much anticipated seasonal change.

Nearly 600 Bloomsburg University students will take part in The Big Event, a community service project sponsored by our Community Government Association as a way to give back to the Town of Bloomsburg. Students will volunteer their time on March 27 to tackle winter clean-up projects around town, concentrating on areas where students and residents are neighbors and public locations, such as Town Park and the Market Square Fountain.

Projects will include raking, weeding, sweeping and picking up trash. Students also will be available to help with projects at individual residences. The day’s activities will begin with an opening ceremony on BU’s Academic Quad, where breakfast will be served and tools will be distributed.

Campus organizations, including athletic teams, fraternities and sororities, as well as individual students, will be bused to locations around town. Local businesses have donated equipment or made financial contributions. It’s going to be an exciting collaboration between the town and university.

The Big Event is a great way for our students to connect with our town, as a way to say ‘thank you’ and an opportunity to remember they are temporary residents themselves. The town is just as much a part of our students’ college experience and development as future leaders as the time they spend on campus.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spring Break with Husky alums

As students and faculty take a respite from classes for Spring Break, including some in search of reprieve from the winter weather, my wife, Robbie, and I will be traveling to warmer temperatures ourselves.

From March 7 to 13, we will meet with BU alumni in Florida during receptions over brunch, lunch and dinner. We have events scheduled for Ponte Vedra, Winter Park, Clearwater Beach, Bonita Springs and Fort Lauderdale. If you’ll be in these areas during this week, visit our Alumni Association Web site for a detailed schedule and links to sign up for an event. We promise to bring a little bit of Bloomsburg University closer to our Husky faithful in Florida, while giving alumni a chance to network with each other.

Among the alumni we will meet are Pat Szymanek Mica ’67, wife of U.S. Senator John Mica, and Chet Snavely ’70, who will host our alumni from the Ft. Lauderdale area for a cruise on his boat. We will also connect with Dr. Wilson Bradshaw, president of Florida Gulf Coast University who served as BU’s provost from 1995 to 2000.

During the events, I will talk about the great things happening at Bloomsburg and show a video of the recent changes that have taken place on lower campus, including the Academic Quad, McCormick Center expansion, and the current renovations of Bakeless and Hartline centers. I will also update alumni on our strategic planning process, which is building upon the legacy of success from previous generations of administration, faculty, staff and students. Our alumni are an important stakeholder in the development of our long-range strategic plan.

The timing couldn’t be better. Our Strategic Planning and Resource Council (SPARC) recently finalized the university’s new mission, value and vision statements that will serve as the foundation for strategic directions and initiatives over the next three to five years. You can find the statements, as well as details of the ongoing process, on our strategic planning Web site. This site is updated regularly and we invite public feedback, so I encourage everyone to participate in this exciting process.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Opening more doors for education

Higher education at Bloomsburg University isn’t limited to just students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees but reaches all populations of prospective learners and future leaders.

For example, we have a successful Advance College Experience (ACE) program for qualified high school students, many non-degree programs including one for senior citizens and a growing division of corporate and continuing education. This division, designed to meet the advancing needs of our economy and changing workforce, recently added a new program for school district superintendents and assistant superintendents to obtain needed continuing education credits.

The first session of BU’s Superintendents Academy began this month with the support of superintendents from school districts in Columbia, Montour and neighboring counties. It will continue through June.

Pennsylvania law requires all educators to earn 180 hours of continuing education credits every five years, and this academy – along with our Principals Academy that began in 2009 – allows local education leaders to meet their post-graduate requirements closer to home. The Superintendents Academy also provides an opportunity for educators to focus on current research, issues and trends in areas such as school law, finance, technology, demographics and student achievement.

In addition to superintendents and assistant superintendents, the program is open to intermediate unit executive directors and assistant executive directors, vocational-technical school directors and assistant directors and other district administrators. We hope to expand the group this fall and establish other cohorts across the state.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Extending BU’s reach to new heights

As a result of new federal funding, Bloomsburg University will be a part of a new venture to establish a high-performance, fiber optic communications system linking rural communities with education, health care and economic development entities across the state.

This is great news for our university, as a member of PASSHE and the Keystone Initiative for Network-Based Education and Research (KINBER) coalition, to be involved in an effort that’s providing access to a state-of-the-art broadband system at an affordable cost. When finished, the fiber optic cable network will extend nearly 1,700 miles through 39 counties, including 22 counties considered to be unserved or underserved based on their access to affordable broadband services. Families and organizations in those areas, whose only current option is dial-up service, will soon have other affordable choices.

In addition, this network has the potential to facilitate research collaborations – regionally and globally – which could lead to new technologies, medical treatments and scientific discoveries. Not only will BU’s educational potential reach new heights, our role as a valuable resource to the region will strengthen.

Last week, the Obama administration awarded more than $99 million to KINBER, a coalition of colleges and universities (including PASSHE), health care organizations and economic development entities, to develop this much-needed broadband technology. The network will expand broadband Internet access to 60 institutions, including public and private universities, schools, libraries and medical facilities. More than $29 million will be used for similar purposes in underserved areas north of Interstate 80, many of whom are our neighbors.

Once in place, the broadband network will enhance BU’s capabilities to conduct more effective distance education, extensive research and offer real-time, high-performance computing, video conferencing and collaboration with international students and faculty. Just as important, it will ensure our community neighbors have access to the same high-speed technology.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Setting the pace for new opportunities

We recently built on our commitment to increase opportunities for students to pursue a Bloomsburg University degree through a partnership with Lehigh Carbon Community College that will serve as a model for other PASSHE universities.

Donald Snyder, Lehigh Carbon’s president, and I formalized a program-to-program articulation agreement for students who earn an associate’s degree in early childhood and elementary education to seamlessly transition into our bachelor’s of education program, either at our Bloomsburg campus or at Lehigh Carbon’s Morgan Center in Tamaqua. This allows students to pursue their higher education goals closer to home while receiving a high-quality BU education.

More opportunities are to come as BU will sign similar agreements later this month with Luzerne County Community College and Northampton Community College. At LCCC, similar to the Lehigh Carbon agreement, students will be able to complete the four-year degree at the campus in Nanticoke without traveling to our campus.

These program-to-program articulations are the first of their kind and another example of BU’s leadership in teacher preparation and curriculum innovation. Our outstanding faculty in the College of Education worked creatively and collaboratively with their community college colleagues in developing the curriculum that led to the articulation agreements.

This model should lead to program-to-program articulations in other majors at BU, providing additional seamless pathways for community college students to complete bachelor’s degrees in high-demand fields. In addition, the pathways will increase the number of well-prepared transfer students as we enter a decade in which the number of high school graduates is expected to decline.

Friday, February 5, 2010

BU in focus at the Super Bowl

As we settle in Sunday evening with family and friends to watch the Super Bowl matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts, the Bloomsburg University community can be immensely proud to know one of our own is on the playing field representing the best our university has to offer.

Jahri Evans was a star player for our Huskies football team before being drafted in the NFL in 2006, and as the Saints starting offensive lineman, he will take center stage this Sunday in Miami in front of 80,000 fans and an expected 98 million television viewers. Not only has Jahri excelled athletically, he achieved success in the classroom and remains connected to BU through an annual scholarship he established last summer.

Jahri completed his studies while playing for the Saints, graduating in May 2007 with a bachelor's degree in exercise science. As a way to acknowledge the importance of his own college education, he has pledged to annually cover tuition and fees for an out-of-state minority student enrolled in BU's Master of Science in clinical athletic training program. The Jahri Evans Scholarship is one of many ways our alumni give back to the university and help ensure more students have opportunities to pursue higher education at Bloomsburg.

During the on-campus announcement of his scholarship in July, Jahri said, "It's always good to help someone in need further their education. Bloomsburg was instrumental in getting me to where I am today. I was brought up to always give back and be grateful for what you have. This is a great program and great place to go to school."

Sunday will cap a great year for Jahri, who had his best season ever as a player for a team having its best season in its 42-year existence. He was named to the NFL Pro Bowl as a starter and recognized as one of the NFL’s overall top players when he was named to its All-Pro Team. Through it all, Jahri never lost touch with BU. His story has been a popular topic in the weeks leading up the Super Bowl covered by more than 200 media outlets, including The New York Times, ESPN, The Sporting News and USA Today, as well as the cover story of our new-look Bloomsburg: The University Magazine. In every article, Jahri made a point to highlight how attending BU impacted his life.

Jahri makes an effort to visit BU every year to meet the team, attend a game or scrimmage and touch base with BU football coach Danny Hale and the coaching staff, his mentors and former professors and friends who are still in the area. We look forward to welcoming him “home” again soon, hopefully as a Super Bowl champion.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Diversity and inclusion take center stage

Our campus celebration of Black History Month began last week, highlighted by numerous activities and events our students and community neighbors can enjoy. Bloomsburg University recognizes the importance of campus diversity and embraces inclusion throughout the year but celebrating Black History Month enables us to shine our spotlight a bit more brightly on the contributions of African-American culture on campus and in our community.

The celebration began on Jan. 28 by bringing Dr. Ronald Walters, an eminent scholar of African-American politics and noted political analyst, to campus. His evening lecture, “The King Legacy and the Obama Presidency,” was a well attended analysis and discussion of the first year of the Obama presidency and his first state-of-the-union address.

Our celebration continues on Friday, Feb. 5, when the renowned Harlem Gospel Choir will perform in the Kenneth S. Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall. The choir, which has performed worldwide, promises to bring a special style of gospel to our campus, one deeply rooted in New York City heritage. My wife, Robbie, and I are looking forward to a dynamic, inspirational performance, beginning that night at 6:30.

A week later, we will host students from several PASSHE schools and many BU alumni for the 16th annual Sankofa Conference. “Sankofa,” an Akan word meaning “We must go back and reclaim our past, so we can move forward,” provides the fundamental theme of this interactive conference. Several BU alumni will lead workshops on Saturday, Feb. 13, covering topics such as getting into graduate school and being a mentor. Our students will also be networking with diversity leaders and students from our sister institutions, such as West Chester and Lock Haven universities.

After the conference, the focus of our celebration returns to our campus community for African Heritage Week from Feb. 22 to 25 with festivities coordinated by a student organization, the Black Cultural Society. Planned activities include the Harlem Renaissance, a night when we’ll enjoy a variety of performances, from poetry readings to dance routines and songs, all celebrating the rich heritage of Harlem.

This month’s events are a wonderful opportunity for our campus community to further embrace diversity and grow a deeper appreciation of the contribution each person makes to our learning environment.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Staying ahead of the game

Popularized by the hit television series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and growth of online crime, forensic analysis has caught the attention of many young adults as an interesting and attractive career path. This interest hasn't gone unnoticed at Bloomsburg University.

In May, we will have our first group of students graduate from our computer forensics program that began in 2006. It will be an exciting and proud moment for us. BU is one of few universities in the country and the only PASSHE school offering a bachelor's degree program specific to computer forensics.

Our program focuses on extracting and analyzing evidence from digital media, such as photographs from hard drives. Through classroom instruction and internships, students learn how to search hidden areas of a computer, work with law enforcement to present evidence in an investigation or trial, and enforce the computer use policies of corporate America. When they earn their bachelor's degree, our graduates have the necessary skills to solve many of the same mysteries covered on CSI, although not nearly as quickly in real life as on television.

We currently have nearly 170 students in the program and expect to graduate about 30 computer forensic specialists this spring. With our first graduating class on the horizon, we can add computer forensics to our list of new programs that meet the needs of our ever-changing global community.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Energy to spend, energy to save

A new year brings a renewed energy that allows us to build on what we did well in the previous year, from our personal successes to our professional achievements. This week, we feel the same type of energy at Bloomsburg University as we welcome back our students from a well-deserved winter break and greet many new freshmen and transfer students who are joining us this semester.

We’ll rely on the energy and outstanding ideas of students, faculty and staff as we formulate a strategic plan for the university this spring. This important plan will build upon BU’s legacy of success from previous generations of administration, faculty, staff and students and will chart the course for the university’s future. We appreciate your input, which can be directly submitted to SPARC (Strategic Planning and Resource Council) through our strategic planning Web site.

The strategic planning process is just one of many significant initiatives you will hear about in the coming weeks. Another is the new BU Web site. With the rollout scheduled for early February, the redesigned site is better organized, easier to navigate and presents a more unified appearance. The new Web site will be unveiled in three phases over the next the year and, as with the strategic plan, we welcome your input. To all who have already provided feedback, we say, “Thank you. Your comments have been very helpful.” If you have not done so, please complete the Web survey and offer comments and suggestions.

Another new initiative begins later this week to renew our focus on the important issue of sustainability. At the request of two campus groups - the Green Campus Initiative and H.O.P.E. (Help Our Planet Earth) - Thursday and Friday, Jan. 21 and 22, will be designated as Green Days. On these days, faculty will share information on steps we all can take to reduce energy and water consumption and increase our efforts to recycle materials and energy.

I encourage you to learn all you can about green efforts at BU and participate in university-wide sustainability initiatives this semester, including the National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions on Feb. 11 and Earth Day events, tentatively scheduled for April 22. Take a look at this Webcast to learn more about the H.O.P.E. initiative.