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.