Friday, September 12, 2014

Rising to the challenge

Following another successful Meet the President event last week on campus, I had the pleasure of joining the millions of people who have taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The creative fundraiser, made famous on social media by the many ice-dousing videos, has been tremendously successful in raising more than $110.5 million for the ALS Association.

As I said during my challenge, ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a relentless degenerative disease that leads slowly to death. To date, there is no cure. Hopefully this will change due to the overwhelming support seen these past few months by our society, including many of our own Bloomsburg University family and friends.

Rising to the challenge to support a worthy cause is nothing new to our university community. It’s almost second nature for our students, faculty and staff.

For example one of our sororities, Sigma Sigma Sigma, recently helped Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital land a $2,210 grant for needed teaching aides for its patients.

Their charitable effort is one of many examples of how our Greek organizations – as well as other student groups – work with our community and support local and national charities like the Ronald McDonald House, Toys for Tots, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and our local women’s shelter and food cupboard.

Of course a prime example of our passion for charity and community support is The Big Event, which annually receives a steady flow of volunteers from our entire student population. In fact, two of our largest on-campus fundraising efforts turned in record level donations this past academic year.

Relay For Life of Bloomsburg University, coordinated by our Chapter of Colleges Against Cancer, had more than 800 participants on 50 teams raise more than $50,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The Multicultural Center’s annual Breast Cancer 5K Walk/Run has raised more than $100,000 since the first step was taken in 2002, including more than $12,000 last fall.

These recent highlights remind me of the biggest challenge we faced and the strongest relief effort we pulled together during my tenure as president. Three years ago this past week, the Flood of 2011 forever changed the landscape and, in many case, the future of our community. The clear view of the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds from Route 11, where a row of houses once stood, is one permanent reminder. There are a thousand other examples in our immediate region.

We lost seven days of classes, yet our university continued to work. Students, faculty and staff volunteered with clean up, Red Cross efforts and local emergency governmental agencies, such as call-in centers and supply aide distribution. These volunteer efforts continued well into the fall and spring. It was a clear and emotional snapshot at how much we value our community and, in many ways, brought us all closer together. Today, we enjoy a stronger sense of community because of it.

#SenseOfCommunity #CoCurricularLearning


  1. I am disappointed with Bloomsburg's US News ranking of 98 within the Northern Region. 5th within the State System of Higher Education in PA is not something I am proud to broadcast. Many of the higher ranked universities are small private institutions with much less resources than Bloomsburg University. We should do better. I would really like to know if our President is satified with the ranking and, if not, what plans will be put in place to improve it. I think Bloomsburg has slipped over the years and I never hear what steps are being taken to improve it's ranking. These ranking are really important to the future of the university and poor rankings devalue our alumni in the marketplace.

    1. As President, I am always looking to identify ways to enhance our educational opportunities for our students while continuing to provide an affordable and accessible education. While the private institutions may be smaller, many have more resources and charge substantially higher tuition. We respect the U.S. News rankings, but they do not reflect the true value of a Bloomsburg University education and the success of our alumni in their professional and personal lives.