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.