Monday, November 14, 2011

Dear Campus Community ...

We are all deeply concerned about the handling of the allegations of sexual abuse/sexual assault of minor children by a former Penn State coach.

Therefore, I am immediately instituting a full review of the following policies and procedures (including reporting requirements, where reports can be made, how reports are made, etc.) at BU:

• Sexual harassment
• Abuse, sexual and otherwise
• Unwanted sexual activity
• Illegal activity, such as child pornography

If you see, hear about or know about possible child abuse on our campus, please immediately contact University Police at (570) 389-4168. After making this phone call, inform your immediate supervisor who in turn will contact his/her respective vice president.

These individuals will also immediately contact University Police. What is essential is that university police are notified immediately. Nothing is more important that the health and safety of all members of the Bloomsburg University community and visitors to our campus, particularly children.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A community pulling together

We are all experiencing a stressful and challenging time as we first anticipated and prepared for the Flood of 2011 and now are dealing with its aftermath. Our initial concern was, of course, for the personal safety of our students, faculty and staff.

We have lost seven days of classes due to the university closure. Faculty leaders and academic administrators are working to adjust class periods, schedule additional sessions as necessary, and establish other ways for students to achieve all course learning outcomes.

Fall Semester will not be extended in December and final examinations will be held as scheduled during the week of December 12 – 16, 2011.

Now, with the campus closed through the week, we turn to the needs of Bloomsburg University’s hometown, the Town of Bloomsburg. My emergency management team has met daily not only to make the difficult decisions about the status of the university, but also to hear about community needs we can meet. We currently are housing Pennsylvania National Guard troops on campus and providing BU shuttle buses and equipment to assist with clean-up efforts.

Although it may seem inconsequential at a time like this, we decided to move ahead with athletic contests this week. Most of the games, with the exception of soccer, are being hosted by the Huskies’ opponents and the competitions give all of us a little diversion when we sorely need it.

Recovery from a natural disaster of this magnitude will take months, if not years. We expect to have potable water on campus again on Thursday and will be ready to welcome our students back over the weekend for classes to resume Monday, Sept. 19.

When classes resume, the need for volunteers will continue and BU efforts will be cordinated through the Solve Office. Our friends, neighbors and members of our campus community will continue to need our help and I encourage you to lend a hand.

Thank you to the essential employees who have been instrumental in the recovery efforts both in Town and on campus. Also, I want to thank all faculty and staff who have and continue to volunteer during this time

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Welcome back Huskies!

If you were in Bloomsburg this summer, you know this campus doesn’t sleep between mid-May and the end of August. But there’s definitely a new level of energy on campus at this time of year. We will need all of the energy we can muster for everything that is happening, starting this week.

On Thursday, Sept. 1, you will be part of our first Husky Pride Day. You’ll see a lot of maroon and gold all over campus to build excitement for the season’s first football game at Redman Stadium that evening. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. when our Huskies — who are ranked 10th in the nation — go against Ashland University. I hope you’ll be there and support the Huskies all season long.

October is going to be one of the busiest months of 2011-12. We’ll have Homecoming on Oct. 8 and Parents and Family Weekend on Oct., 29.

Also in October, we’ll have the first Zeigler Professional Development Institute conference for the College of Business. Additionally, we are hosting the annual PASSHE Diversity Conference.

Speaking of diversity, you will be asked during the spring semester to share your perceptions via the Campus Climate Survey. All students, faculty and staff will be invited to help us examine how different groups experience BU. I encourage you to share your experiences, voice your thoughts and help us realize our vision of an inclusive institution.

Other surveys you may receive will collect information on student engagement, residence halls and campus risks. If asked to complete one or more of these surveys, please accept.

The new academic year will require a high level of mindfulness as we move forward with a balanced budget while continuing to be good stewards of every dollar. It will be intense as we solidify the new general education model that melds academic and co-curricular opportunities.

And, it will be both thought-provoking and inspiring as we examine new concepts and ideas together.

I wish you a wonderful, fulfilling year.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What the new PA budget means to us

It is no understatement to say our faculty, staff and, especially, our students closely followed this year’s budget discussions after the proposed 50 percent cut to our allocation.

Fortunately, the budget enacted on June 30 contained a smaller cut (18%) than first suggested; however, it still impacts our institution and our students as we face a reduction of $90 million in state and federal funding for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, equal to about $802 per full-time student.

Many times during the lengthy budget process, PASSHE Chancellor John Cavanaugh and I pledged we would not ask our students and their families to bear the entire burden of a reduction in state funding. Consequently, the PASSHE Board of Governors approved a tuition increase of $436 for 2011-2012.

Although this is a larger increase than in recent years, our annual tuition remains among the lowest of all four-year colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and well below the national average among all public institutions.

I am extremely pleased to say our institution will continue to operate with a balanced budget in 2011-2012, in spite of this year’s decreased allocation.
Bloomsburg University has a long history of fiscal responsibility upon which to build as we assess how we may decrease our costs while seeking alternative sources of revenue.

Strong stewardship of public funding and private donations, coupled with sound business practices, means we will continue to move forward with the priorities established by our strategic plan, Impact 2015: Building on the Past, Leading for the Future:

  • Enhancing academic excellence

  • Achieving excellence while ensuring financial sustainability

  • Designing an enrollment vision in terms of demand, program mix and capacity

  • Fostering and developing a strong sense of community

If you have not read our strategic plan recently, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with Impact 2015.

In this era of steadily declining fiscal support for public higher education we have to make difficult fiscal decisions about the programs and services that we offer. In line with our strategic plan, we will move forward with our innovative general education model developed through the collaborative efforts of faculty and staff.

The model, which melds academic and co-curricular opportunities to achieve a set of comprehensive and challenging learning outcome designed to “prepare students for personal and professional success in an increasingly complex global environment," is on track to launch in fall 2012.

We are committed to combining operational efficiencies with identifying and raising the funding necessary to support high quality academic programs and student support services across campus that enable our students to earn their college degrees regardless of their family’s financial picture.

This academic year the entire Bloomsburg community must work together to continue to implement our strategic plan in light of the realities of the “new normal” for public higher education. As we confront budgetary challenges, it is important to remain focused on the lifetime value a Bloomsburg University education provides to our students and their families, the region, the commonwealth and the global community.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More to summer than just suntans and barbecues

Summer evokes images of the beach, camp fires and swimming pools. During these warm months, most of our students spend time at home with family, work part-time jobs and get re-energized for the fall semester.

But not all.

Within days of spring commencement, groups of Bloomsburg University students embarked on planes destined for study abroad programs in different parts of the world. Since then, more than 90 students have immersed themselves in the cultures and traditions of Africa, Chile, China, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, to name a few.

We have been fortunate to have several students share their global experiences through blogs on our website, such as Meghan Sullivan in the Dominican Republic and Ariana Winder in China.

And I recently had the opportunity to spend a week with Dr. Ekema Agbaw, professor of English, 22 BU students and five other faculty members in Cameroon, seeing the benefits of study abroad in person and signing an agreement to expand our strong international exchange program with the University of Buea.

Of all the places I’ve traveled for work or pleasure, this was my first trip to Cameroon and to Africa.

Our students were certainly having a wonderful and positive, life-influencing experience on their five weeks of study and travel in Africa. Half of the group was elementary education majors who were doing some of their teaching practicum in public and private schools. All of the students took two or three courses at the University of Buea and engaged in cultural exchanges with students and residents of the town of Buea on the slope of Mt. Cameroon.

I was able to go with the group on a fascinating hike in the Korup Rainforest (the oldest rainforest in the world). All of the students and professors made the hike including the crossing of a very long suspension bridge to get to the trailhead. A few days later, only 11 of us made the steep hike up to the first hut on the trail up Mt. Cameroon from the town of Buea. We were all guest of the Governor of the Southwest Region for the National Day Parade and at his private dinner that evening. I learned many things in my one week of academic and cultural exchange in Cameroon and presume our students learned so much more during in depth, five-week experience in that fascinating country.

I’m sure we will be hearing of some of their personal experiences and impressions on our Today page.

I’m a very strong supporter of international education. What used to center mainly on exposure to another culture has grown into an educational experience that prepares students for life in today’s global society. Both personally and professionally, I believe it is vital for as many students as possible to study in a country outside their homeland, whether it is U.S. students going abroad or international students coming here.

This approach to education directly supports our mission statement: Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is an inclusive comprehensive public university that prepares students for personal and professional success in an increasingly complex global environment.

As our overall enrollment has grown at BU, so has our enrollment of international students, with, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia leading the way. Most of the Russian students — more than 100 in the past decade — enroll as part of a double-degree program with the Moscow Finance Academy. The affiliation began with 25 students in 2003.

Thanks to its popularity, the U.S. State Department now lists BU as one of the top five destinations for Russian students seeking bachelor’s degrees. The double-degree program, coordinated locally by Dr. Saleem Khan of the economics department, also offers our students the opportunity to study at the Finance University for a summer, a semester or a year.

It’s almost a cliché to say every student leaves his or her mark on a college campus. The variety of backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and, yes, nationalities our students bring to BU from a neighboring county or another country add a special perspective to classroom discussions, extracurricular activities and our campus in general. I believe learning about what we hold in common and understanding how we differ provides an invaluable perspective for a well-educated citizen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guidance through a clear, direct message

It’s not hard to guess what’s been in the forefront of my mind of late. I’ve spent the bulk of recent weeks in various discussions, meetings and hearings regarding the state budget proposal. Governor Tom Corbett’s record level of proposed cuts to higher education and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), has left us feeling a bit unsettled, to say the least.

And we’re left in limbo until we see a response to the proposed budget from the state Senate and General Assembly and, eventually, a final budget. For now, everything remains on the table related to any actions or decisions needed to balance our university’s budget for 2011-12.

However, I’m optimistic. Our efforts in recent weeks have been well-received and we have been very successful in getting our message to the state legislators who, in turn, have responded positively. I feel the success is attributed to the fact the PASSHE message is clear and direct: We provide a high-equality education at an affordable price to a large percentage of Pennsylvania students who become contributing citizens and young leaders of this Commonwealth.

Nearly 90 percent of our students are state residents and more than 80 percent of our graduates either pursue additional professional training and education or take jobs in Pennsylvania. It doesn’t stop there. Nearly two-thirds of our 62,000 alumni reside in Pennsylvania. So we not only educate, we provide an economic stimulus.

Corbett’s proposed $232.6 million represents more than a 50 percent cut to the general fund appropriations to PASSHE. If approved, the budget will reduce the state allocations to PASSHE to about the same levels of when the State System was formed in 1983. This is the greatest proposed cut to higher education of any state in our country at any time in history. Fortunately, our legislators see the value of a PASSHE education. We’re confident we will not see a cut of this magnitude, but the size of the budget cut we will see remains unknown.

The good news is: we do expect a state budget to be passed by the end of June – something that hasn’t happened in recent years. That means the PASSHE Board of Governors will be prepared to set tuition rates sooner than in previous years and we’ll be able to provide more specific information to our students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff.

In the meantime, students continue to remain our number one priority. That fact won’t change. And, in the midst of this unprecedented budget crisis, we will not sacrifice the quality of our students’ education. In spite of the challenges, BU will thrive and continue to do what it does so well – educate the students of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keeping quality education affordable

In today’s austere economic environment, we fully expected Governor Tom Corbett to propose deep, across-the-board cuts in the budget he announced this week. While we await a full analysis of his budget’s effects on Bloomsburg University’s students and their families, we anticipate the proposal could have an effect no one wants — deterring some students from seeking or completing their degrees.

Historically, Bloomsburg has provided education to our commonwealth’s sons and daughters. Today, nearly 90 percent of our 9,000 students are Pennsylvania residents who remain here after graduation to work and raise families; 40 percent of our students are the first members of their families to attend college.

We take very seriously our mission to provide them with a quality education at an affordable cost and are deeply concerned about the impact of this budget proposal, if approved by the state legislature, could have on our students’ futures.

We assure our students that we will do everything possible to avoid disruptions in their education. We will continue to be responsible stewards of tuition dollars and the public funds we receive, building on our successful record of cost reductions over the past decade. However, we cannot address the impact of the proposed budget cuts only by reducing our costs.

As we move forward, we will be guided by measures of student success centered on providing a high-quality education, creating the best learning environments, generating sufficient financial resources and partnering with our community and our state to create and sustain a strong economy.

Most of all, we will continue to focus on providing a high-quality education that is affordable for our students. Our commonwealth’s future depends on well-educated citizens.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Welcome to a new virtual era

A year ago, we began telling the Bloomsburg University story in a more profound voice to more people. And in the past 12 months, it’s only gotten better.

Last February we launched a redesigned university website, followed a few months later by a new sports website. Each made an immediate impact with a sleeker design, more captivating layout and simpler navigation, as well as increased connectivity with social media.

The new BU website is helping to reinforce the issues and direction of our strategic plan, Impact 2015: Building on the Past, Leading for the Future, in an efficient and interactive manner.

In this day and age of immediacy, we can’t wait for external media – predominantly newspapers, television and radio – to tell our story. There’s a growing audience eager to learn more about the talented and intelligent individuals who learn, work and live here. They want the story sooner than later. And we’re committed to do just that. Plus, who knows these engaging stories better than we do?

As a result of our enhanced web presence, more than 7 million people over the past year saw weekly examples of why BU is a university of choice among a growing number of prospective students and a university that develops individuals to be contributing citizens.

One example is the story of Lisa Lapina, a senior education major, who spent the summer in Zambia, Africa, researching the effects of poverty on the education of at-risk children. Lisa took us on her journey through a blog on our website, which eventually led to several on-campus presentations this last semester and a full-page story in the Pennsylvania State Education Association online magazine.

Another successful web launch was the story of the innovative after-school program our Languages and Cultures department has with two Bloomsburg elementary schools. Our students are introducing French and Spanish to more than 100 second- through fifth-graders at an earlier age, as well as gaining an added year of classroom teaching experience themselves. This pilot program drew the attention of My College Guide, an annual magazine mailed directly to the homes of 130,000 high-achieving high school students nationwide. My College Guide featured our story in its online edition this past fall.

Dozens of new features, commentaries and news items pop up on our website and social media every week. Most recently many of our online audience expressed surprise to learn that we have an Ice Hockey Club team, which by the way is closing in on a second consecutive league championship. An update on their progress is expected this week, as are new videos documenting a Quest winter break trip to Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, and a photo gallery showcasing the impressive turnout for the recent student-led environmental awareness event.

You never know what you may learn on a given day through our online presence, no matter how many years you’ve been connected with BU. In case you may have missed out this past year, don’t worry. There are plenty more projects in the works for 2011 that will make our website even more engaging and accessible to you!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Live … learn … study in Russia

If you recall last month, I wrote about the rewarding advantages of studying abroad and the many opportunities Bloomsburg University students have to take their BU experience internationally. Another unique global opportunity for students, including those at our 13 PASSHE sister institutions, will be in the spotlight on campus this week.

Our collaborative study abroad program with Moscow Finance University is gearing up for another term, of which our students can learn about first-hand Tuesday, Feb. 8, from Saleem Khan, professor of economics and BU’s Russian Program director. The open forum will begin at 5 p.m. in room 302 of the Bakeless Center.

I’m personally looking forward to hearing more about this unique collaboration that offers our students a chance to step into the world of globalization at a prestigious university featuring 40 departments, three institutes and branches in seven regions of Russia.

The program features three options, including a double-degree economics program that brings Russian students to Bloomsburg. Nearly 100 Finance University students have attended classes here and graduated from BU since 2003. As for our students, they have the opportunity to study for a semester, the summer or an entire academic year at the university in Moscow. During those terms, students can pursue areas of economics, language, arts and music … in individually tailored programs, with most classes taught in English.

A bonus, as with all study abroad programs, students can immerse themselves in the rich culture of their host country. As for Moscow, not only does it boast a deep history that dates back to the early 12th century, it features a vast mass transit system, famous museums and world-renowned architecture, such as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Seven Sisters.

Just like other study abroad opportunities where students enjoy tremendous educational experiences in some of the most-desired destinations across the globe, the Russian Study Abroad program is a wonderful opportunity for our students to live … learn … and study the world as they prepare for careers in the global economy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A new face for state leadership

Last week the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania inaugurated its 46th governor, just in time to begin work on next year’s budget. Among Tom Corbett’s key campaign initiatives – on top of pledges to make Pennsylvania a leader in business growth, agriculture, job creation, transportation, energy production and education – is to maintain fiscal responsibility.

This initiative, which mirrors one of Bloomsburg University’s four key strategic issues, is directly tied to the state budget and the legislature’s annual appropriation for higher education. As a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, we are paying close attention to Corbett’s approach to this campaign promise.

So much so that two members of Chancellor John Cavanaugh’s staff will visit our campus today (Monday, Jan. 24). They will talk about ways we can work with our 13 sister universities to show support for PASSHE while stressing the impact government funding has on tuition, fees, program offerings and other facets of student life.

It’s no secret state funding for higher education has significantly declined in recent years; to the point that only 29% of our operating budget is funded by the state this year. As a result, tuition across the 14 universities increased by 4.5 percent for 2010-11 and 3.7 percent for 2009-10. The economic burden has fallen more heavily on the shoulders of students and their families and forced universities to increasingly rely on donor support.

Despite the economic challenges, BU continues to provide our students with outstanding educational opportunities. The wonderful reputation of our academic programs, faculty and staff is reflected in record enrollment, year after year.

BU is proud to provide an excellent, affordable education that prepares students for success in our multicultural society and global economy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Launching student innovation

I am a thinker. I am a builder. I am a doer. I’m an entrepreneur.

As we welcome students back from winter break, this message is being spread across campus with the hope of sparking – well, more like launching – a new way of fostering student entrepreneurial creativity. The effort will begin later this week with the help of several successful alumni.

Bloomsburg University will host its first LaunchPad symposium Thursday, Jan. 20, featuring three Husky alumni entrepreneurs, who will share their success stories, and the director of the Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone, who will explain how our current students’ innovative ideas can be supported by the local KIZ. You may have heard previously of KIZ; it’s a statewide initiative to build knowledge-based economies and cultivate entrepreneurship in Pennsylvania.

I’m looking forward to seeing this collection of talent come together on campus to exchange ideas, brainstorm and give our students unique access to the secrets of entrepreneurial success. That success, as students will learn from our alumni, can begin here in a classroom, laboratory or a residence hall study lounge. Our students will also benefit from face-to-face feedback on their marketable ideas and the chance to network with professionals and other potential entrepreneurs.

This symposium is another example of how BU takes learning beyond the classroom and presents it in multiple ways that are easily accessible to students. It also gives our students a tremendous opportunity to enhance their academic success, while launching them on their way to making an impact in the world.