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.