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.