Friday, January 30, 2015

Building momentum for a great year

It’s always good to end a year on a high note, and Bloomsburg University did just that in 2014 with several fundamental accomplishments in addition to conferring more than 2,000 degrees.

Just before the fall semester ended, we got word our College of Business had been reaccredited for the second time by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, known as AACSB International. Initially accredited in December 2004 and reaccredited in 2010, the College of Business is one of 716 business schools in 48 countries and territories — less than 5 percent of the world’s business programs — with AACSB accreditation.

A few weeks before, we received good news about another reaccreditation. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education accepted our Periodic Review Report and reaffirmed accreditation. Middle States is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association dedicated to quality assurance and improvement through accreditation via peer evaluation. Its accreditation instills public confidence in institutional mission, goals, performance and resources through its rigorous accreditation standards and their enforcement.

Momentum continued into the New Year as BU was notified that we were honored with a Carnegie Classification for the first time. We were one of 240 U.S. colleges and universities awarded the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification, which demonstrates an institutional commitment to volunteerism and community involvement. More than 350 colleges and universities have attained the designation.

Further illustrating our commitment to civic engagement, we were also named to the President’s Higher Education Honor Roll for Community Service for the fifth consecutive year. The honor roll recognizes institutions that achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes as they place students on a lifelong path of civic engagement and help solve community problems.

As we begin a new spring semester, I look forward to celebrating many more accomplishments – a few of which, I suspect, will be aided by Presidential Strategic Planning Grants. I recently approved grants through the Strategic Planning and Resource Council (SPARC) to the following six projects totaling $169,500:
  • A real-time water quality monitoring station for Fishing Creek, Steve Rier
  • A model program to attract quality STEM transfer students from community colleges, Toni Bell
  • BU Institute for Liberal Arts: Educating for Life, Phase 1, James Brown
  • Center for Leadership and Engagement, Ed Valovage
  • Sports Leadership Academy, Stephanie Anderson and Susan Kocher
  • Center for Visual and Performing Arts, Steve Clickard
We’re off to a great start in 2015!

#CollaborativeLearning #CoCurricularLearning #SenseOfCommunity

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ensuring a safe place to learn, live and work

As with any new year, changes come.

Bloomsburg University and all of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education remain committed to ensuring our campuses are safe places for learning, living and working. Recent laws passed by the Pennsylvania legislature and a policy passed by the Board of Governors further enhance that commitment in the following ways:

Protection of Minors on Campus

In a situation of suspected child abuse involving individuals under the age of 18, all university employees are considered “mandated reporters” and have or will receive training from Bloomsburg University regarding the reporting of suspected child abuse.

In the meantime, if there is a situation of suspected child abuse employees must immediately make an oral report to Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS)—formerly named the Department of Public Welfare —by calling 1-800-932-0313. If an oral report is made, a written report must be made within 48 hours to DHS or the Columbia County Children and Youth Services. Immediately following the report to DHS, employees must notify the Officer-In-Charge at the University Police Department —the designated person in charge here at Bloomsburg University who will assume responsibility for facilitating the institution’s cooperation with the investigation of the report.

Arrest and Conviction Disclosure

Related to the protection of minors on campus, all current employees will be required to report to the Bloomsburg University if they have been arrested or convicted of crimes enumerated in the Child Protective Services Law, 23 Pa.C.S. §6344(c).

Beginning Dec. 31, 2014, employees must contact our human resources office if they have been
  1. arrested for or convicted of a reportable offense or if you have been 
  2. founded or indicated as a perpetrator in a report of child abuse. 
Employees must provide such written notice within 72 hours of the arrest, conviction, or notification that you have been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. Failure to make a written notification as required by law could be a misdemeanor of the third degree and could subject employees to discipline up to and including termination.

Background Checks

All current and prospective employees and volunteers will be required to have the following background clearance checks:
  • A criminal history record check or statement from the Pennsylvania State Police indicating the individual has not been convicted of a reportable offense;
  • Certification from the Department of Human Services as to whether the individual is named in the Statewide Database as a perpetrator in a pending child abuse investigation, a founded report, or an indicated report of child abuse; and
  • A federal criminal history record information, including fingerprinting and review by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of verifying the identity of the individual and obtaining a current record of any criminal arrests and convictions.
These are the same background clearance checks that are routinely required of all K-12 teachers in Pennsylvania as well as others who have regular contact with minors, including those who volunteer with churches and other community organizations.

Employees may be asked to obtain the above background checks immediately if Bloomsburg University has reason to believe they were arrested or convicted of one of the crimes enumerated in the new law. Otherwise the timing of the checks will depend on whether they have ever had background certifications in the past in accordance with the following:
  • If you have had certifications and the certifications are more than 36 months old you will need to have new certifications by Dec. 31, 2015.
  • If your certifications are less than 36 months old, you will have to have new certifications within 36 months of the date of your last certifications.
  • If you have never had certifications, you will have to have them by December 31, 2017 and every three years thereafter.
The University will fully review the results of the background checks and act pursuant to both Board policy and the law. Details regarding the process for obtaining the certifications will be provided in a separate communication.

We appreciate everyone's continued commitment to keep our campus a safe and productive environment for learning and discovery. We look forward to 2015 as another remarkable year for our students, faculty, staff, and the community we serve.