Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays!

At this busy time of year, we look back with thanks on the year just passed and look forward with optimism to the opportunities a New Year offers. On behalf of the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Bloomsburg University, we thank you for helping to make this university a Great Place to Be You every day of the year. We wish you and yours a peaceful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Home is where the grandchildren are

Our family welcomed another new member this fall when my daughter, Laura, who lives in Washington, had her fourth girl — my fifth grandchild.

Oonagh’s arrival brings an added treat to our holidays. My wife, Robbie, and I will finally get to spend time with her when we travel west to share Christmas with our three children and their spouses. It will be the first time in more than two years that the entire family will be together — a geographic challenge we face living and working in different parts of the country, including my youngest son living in Hawaii and oldest son living in Colorado

Interestingly, this hasn’t been the hot topic of our family conversations, particularly with our daughter. However, our other newcomer has!

About four months ago, Robbie and I brought a new puppy home to Buckalew — an Australian Shepherd named Shadow. We had an Australian Shepherd before and know they’re really smart and interesting dogs.  This summer, I spent a week on a cattle ranch, and the two best cattle dogs were Australian Shepherds. They reminded me how much I missed our old dog.

When I came home, I told my wife about the Aussies and that, perhaps, we think about getting one of our own. Robbie doesn’t believe in delayed gratification, so in about 10 days of searching the web and going to a dog show, we found a good breeder near State College. There, we found a 10-week-old puppy they named Shadow, because she followed the other puppies around.

The same has held true here at Bloomsburg. I can’t go anywhere in Buckalew without her by my side. An Australian Shepherd is a cattle dog.  Its natural instincts are to herd and they will often herd sheep, cattle and children naturally. Shadow, now six months old, will accompany me and my wife on horseback rides. Robbie takes Shadow out to the stable every day.

Shadow is a great companion and has been a wonderful addition to the family. Laura has joked during our recent conversations that Shadow is our “grandchild substitute,” since Robbie and I are often sharing pictures and talking about her with our children. “It’s what you have to do when you don’t live near your grandkids,” Laura quipped. I think there’s some real truth to that.

Well, in about two weeks we’ll have our opportunity to get pictures and have plenty of stories to talk about with our grandchildren. With the whole family together, it’s going to be a very special holiday season. I’m really looking forward to going home, which I guess at this time in our life is where the grandchildren are.

I want to wish all of the members of the Bloomsburg University community a happy and relaxing holiday.  We can all look forward to a pleasant and productive Spring Semester.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A quarterly review from the President's Office

We are making great progress toward the goals stated in Impact 2015. The momentum continues this year as we build upon Strategic Issue #4: Fostering and developing a strong sense of community. As part of our efforts, here is some news from across the campus I hope you find useful and informative.

Community Leadership Breakfast

On Nov. 2, I hosted the second annual Community Leadership Breakfast at Monty’s. More than 60 community and university leaders, including representatives of business and regional and local governing bodies, were updated on campus initiatives and issues and events impacting the university and the surrounding communities. In addition, Scott Inch provided an overview of the digital forensics program and its growing influence and impact in the digital forensics industry.


Strategic Planning and Resource Council 2 (SPARC 2)

The 2012-13 SPARC 2 co-chairs are Tom Kresch, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, and Mark Tapsak, associate professor of chemistry and FORUM chair. SPARC 2 will play a key role in evaluating and recommending how Impact 2015 should change and adapt to university needs throughout the next few years.

This year, $200,000 in presidential strategic planning grants will be awarded to innovative projects, the development of Centers of Excellence and programs leading to academic excellence, fiscal sustainability,enhanced enrollment management and a stronger sense of community. SPARC 2 will monitor the progress of the identified initiatives and give oversight to the presidential strategic grants awarded.

Learn about the 2012 winners:

Monday, October 29, 2012

New horizons for PASSHE universities

Recently, Pennsylvania legislators passed the new Higher Education Modernization Law (HEMA), Act 132. HEMA allows PASSHE universities to enter into license agreements for the production, distribution and sale of faculty-invented intellectual property with a company owned by the faculty-inventor or a company that employs the faculty or staff inventor. Chancellor John Cavanaugh spoke with BU faculty and staff about the importance of Act 132.

Act 132 offers faculty the opportunity to be more entrepreneurial. In addition, PASSHE institutions are now able to develop and offer applied doctorate programs.

It is important to note Act 132 applies to any idea that has merit, including research, commercialization projects, and the development of non-profit organizations that provide internships for our students. Details from the October 16 Entrepreneurial Forum at BU may be found here.

For more information on this new opportunity, contact Jerrold Harris, director of research and sponsored programs, or (570) 389-4208.

Monday, October 15, 2012

PASSHE collective bargaining efforts

Recently, we have started to receive inquiries about the status of our collective bargaining efforts. Since this is an issue that affects all 14 sister institutions, information is posted by PASSHE. You’ll find the latest information below

Updates will be posted, as available, on the PASSHE website,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Welcome, autumn. It’s nice to have you back.

Autumn in general and October in particular are typically highlighted on our campus by Homecoming … its energy, pageantry and tradition. And rightfully so.

It’s that time of year when even Mother Nature is a Huskies fan as fall foliage drapes our landscape in school colors, with some red and orange thrown in for good measure. That’s fall … even for this Californian.

The morning air becomes crisp. The sunset lowers and settles nicely over Carver Hall. Classes are in full swing and exams are starting. The Celebrity Artist Series is underway, and we’re full speed ahead in our athletics schedule. This built-up energy — our Husky Spirit — hits center stage with Homecoming.

This year, Oct. 12 to 14, we’re celebrating superheroes. That alone should make the parade floats a must-see. Our Grand Marshall, for the second time because of his outstanding and long-standing contributions to BU and our students, is Professor Emeritus Chang-Shub Roh.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of our geography and geosciences department, which it will be celebrating with two events during Homecoming weekend.

Five alumni from four different decades, in different careers and career stages, will be discussing life after Bloomsburg on Friday, Oct. 12, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Hartline Science Center room 122. This alumni panel will certainly give our current students a chance to hear first-hand the value of a geography and geology degree.

Then on Saturday, Oct. 13, current majors will be giving tours of Hartline from 9 to 11:30 a.m., as well as showcasing a display of current student-faculty collaborative research.

A precursor to Homecoming and a new tradition is the second annual Zeigler Institute for Professional Development Business Conference, which comes to campus Oct. 11 and 12. The conference is a Homecoming all to itself as it draws nearly 50 highly successful business alumni back to campus.

These BU graduates, many of whom are CEOs, Wall Street executives and partners in accounting firms:

  • lead workshops for current business students
  • discuss their respective careers
  • offer advice on interviewing, networking and how students can advance themselves in the business world. 

This is a perfect example of school pride – alumni giving back, investing their time to connect with the next generation of leaders here on campus. ZIPD isn’t the lone example. I’ve seen many occasions at past Homecomings where an alumnus offers encouragement and advice with an arm over the shoulder of a current student. In essence, this connection is the epitome of Husky Pride.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's that time of year again ...

 I am pleased to welcome you back for 2012-2013, a year I am certain will be productive for each of us at Bloomsburg University. At the end of this fall’s welcome video, I call this university “A great place to be you.” To me, these words define the essence of Bloomsburg University as an exceptional work environment and an outstanding institution for learning and getting involved. It is a place where each member of the community aspires to excellence while demonstrating the highest personal and professional standards.

 My video takes a lighthearted approach to the opening of the fall semester, but it does not diminish the value of our many accomplishments in 2011-12. It was a year of reorganization, in which departmental structures and reporting relationships were strategically realigned and key positions were filled or expanded in each of our university divisions. Several faculty members transitioned to administrative roles at the College level by serving as interim or assistant deans.

 It was a year when we established the McDowell Institute for Teacher Excellence in Positive Behavior Support, thanks to the generosity of philanthropist Susan McDowell. The first major event for the Center for Visual and Performing Arts, A Taste of the Arts, drew hundreds of community members to downtown. We hosted a 10-day series of programs to highlight the varied perspectives on Marcellus Shale drilling and welcomed large groups of alumni back to campus, not only for Homecoming, but also to share their expertise at the first Zeigler Institute for Professional Development conference and similar events in all four Colleges.

 Last year’s achievements were guided by the strategic plan, Impact 2015: Building on the Past, Leading for the Future, which continues to provide the framework for our institution’s initiatives. Specifically, the plan’s Strategic Issue 1, Enhancing academic excellence, underscored the need for the assessment processes now in place university-wide. It also spurred the creation of our innovative general education model, MyCore, which recognizes the value of students’ co-curricular involvement in conjunction with classroom instruction.

 As we begin a new academic year together, I thank you for your contributions to our safe and welcoming campus, your dedication to educational excellence, your continued support of student success and your ongoing commitment to an atmosphere where diverse ideas are exchanged, valued and respected.

I look forward to more initiatives in the year ahead, brought to life through the collaboration and teamwork which characterize Bloomsburg University. Please accept my sincere thanks for all that you do and my best wishes for a productive and fulfilling year ahead.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Guest Blog: The higher ed discussion

Where are issues discussed that may determine the future of education in our Commonwealth? Recently (May 17) it was the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Building in Harrisburg and the group was the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education.

I was privileged to attend the meeting with Bloomsburg University’s student Trustee Marcus Fuller (pictured right), who spoke from the audience on the importance of soft skills, community involvement and international education to tomorrow’s workforce.

As the meeting began, Chair Rob Wonderling listed the commission’s purposes:
  • Work together on behalf of the users of post-secondary education;
  • Ensure affordability, accessibility and employability;
  • Determine how to leverage advantages of higher education in Pennsylvania;
  • Identify best practices and remove government barriers;
  • And, finally, to listen to comments this spring, review information during the summer and deliver a proposed framework to Gov. Corbett in the fall. 
Guest speakers at the roundtable discussion represented colleges and universities, including our sister institution, Shippensburg University; organizations, such as the Association for College Admission Counseling; and business, including the host, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

They spoke of employment opportunities that go unfilled due to lack of qualified applicants … and programs that educate students for nonexistent jobs. Of the benefit of a system of 14 public universities – the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education – that enables students to graduate with manageable debt … and the possibility of changing funding to follow a student to any institution, public or private. Of meeting the educational needs of non-traditional students, including single mothers and citizens with criminal records … and competition from free online courses. Of the rich variety of institutions and educational opportunities that draws students from around the U.S. and the globe … and the needs of our state’s increasingly diverse citizenry.

Deep topics, all. And discussed in front of a small audience in a third-floor conference room overlooking the Capitol Complex.

Four more meetings are scheduled around the state, and comments can be submitted via If you care about post-secondary education in Pennsylvania, make sure your voice is heard.

Bonnie Martin is manager of communications and media relations at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A ”Back to the Future” budget plan

It isn’t such a bad idea, especially when it comes to understanding the plight of higher education funding.

The concept of going “Back to the Future” went nationwide in 1985 with the Michael J. Fox film that’s since become a cult favorite. In the science-fiction adventure, Dr. Emmett “Doc” Mack Brown built a time machine that enabled Marty McFly to travel back in time 30 years to 1955 and then back to 1985 after some misadventures. Nearing the end of the 1980s — specifically, the 1988-89 academic year — the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) received about $322.7 million in state funding, 57% of the 14 schools’ operating budgets. Today, nearly three decades later, PASSHE is facing a proposed state allocation at about the same level —$330.2 million — just $7.5 million more than during the “Back to the Future” era. It would be a 20 percent cut in state funding, according to Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2012-13 budget proposal.

Bloomsburg University has come a long way since 1985, when it was still growing from a state college with 6,400 students into today’s comprehensive university with 10,000 students studying in four colleges offering 56 programs leading to bachelor’s degrees, 44 minors and 21 graduate programs, including a doctorate in audiology. The system has grown, too, adding 23,000 students in that time. The dynamics of our education climate are simply not the same as they were in 1988-89. We recognize the financial challenges facing the state and know that higher education is key to its financial recovery. BU, along with other PASSHE institutions, is a major economic incubator graduating thousands of highly educated professionals and leaders into the work force each year. More than 80 percent of them stay in Pennsylvania to pursue their careers.

Advocating on behalf of higher education should be a yearlong initiative, but there’s no greater time than now to make our voices heard. Together we’re building not just a great future but a great state filled with young leaders who have expanded their knowledge and skills, developed diverse thoughts and ideals, and increased their understanding of our multicultural society and global community.

We must continue to create the dynamic future Doc Brown envisioned visiting when he created the “flux capacitor.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

A “Big” tradition in the making

It’s a big deal anytime you get more than 1,000 people joined together for a common cause. And it’s an even bigger deal when it involves volunteers who display immense pride by giving back to a town they call “home” for just a few years.

Meet The Big Event.

In its third year, Bloomsburg University’s day-long community service project has grown from 600 students to more than 1,000 volunteers who spent Saturday, March 31, collecting brush, painting, raking leaves, washing windows and porches, pulling overgrown shrubs, picking up trash and cleaning up lingering flood residue.

There are very few days when I’m more proud of our students.

It’s the student leadership commitment – the Community Government Association — that impresses me most. CGA sponsors this event each year and begins organizing the massive project months in advance. Then groups, including student athletes and Greeks, as well as individual students quickly get involved. A process like this – involving 10 percent of BU’s students working throughout the Bloomsburg area – is no small feat.

The CGA raised more than $10,000 in donations this year, including major support from Home Depot, Bloomsburg University Foundation, Lion’s Gate, Honeysuckle and Greystone Housing. I applaud the CGA’s effort and passion and the commitment of all of the students who took part.

This year brought a greater need for The Big Event as students continued ongoing flood relief efforts with a surge of extra manpower needed to get a few of the affected areas ready for spring activity. Among the groups largely represented were numerous Greek Life organizations, DASL, Frederick Douglass Living and Learning Community, HABLAS, OWLs, cheerleading, women’s basketball, wrestling, men and women’s soccer, swimming, and the football team.

Several other student groups and organizations were represented by a flow of students coming out amid the rain and chilly temperatures. There were big pockets of volunteers working along West 3rd Street, Main Street and Town Park. In all, students tackled more than 90 locations. Not only were students able to express gratitude to the town; they were able to provide great assistance to a community in need.

If this growth in impact continues, we soon may be calling it The Big Tradition rather than The Big Event.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gauging the Campus Climate

Our campus community is about to collaborate on a very important project. This initiative, the Campus Climate Survey, will ultimately make Bloomsburg University an even more welcoming and supportive community.

Since every BU student, faculty and staff member is a valuable component of our university community, we value the contribution of each individual. This is why your participation in the project is so vital. It will also help us understand the issues we face as a workplace, learning environment and residential community.

This survey is a key step toward continuous improvement on each of these fronts.

BU’s goal is to be a premiere comprehensive university, composed of a diverse community that produces positive change. To reach this goal, academic and administrative leaders must be willing to honestly assess accomplishments, opportunities and challenges.

Identifying our strengths and limitations will provide the foundation for a cohesive plan to help BU become a more inclusive and equitable institution. To reach this ambitious goal, we need the campus community’s voice.

Focus groups were conducted this fall to determine how all individuals experience BU. This data will be used to develop our Campus Climate Survey, which will be given to campus community this semester. Those results will then help formulate BU’s plan to become a model for nurturing a diverse and equitable learning, living and working environment.