Friday, March 1, 2019

Love what you do

The late Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

The greatest joy I have had in my first 19 months here at Bloomsburg University is the opportunity to work with so many great people. With the tireless dedication of so many individuals, BU would not be the strong institution it is without our great faculty and staff.

We recently held our annual Faculty and Staff Appreciation ceremony to honor the nearly 180 employees who were celebrating a work anniversary from between five and forty years. The total combined years of service for all these employees added up to more than 1,900 years – an amazing total and a number of which we can be quite proud.

Many times in speaking with our faculty and staff I have heard, “My plan was to stay here a few years, and then move on. But that was over twenty years ago. I realized I loved it here and stayed.”

That sentiment speaks volumes about our campus community. I am grateful to all my colleagues – not only those who are celebrating work milestones, but also those who have joined us more recently – for the great work that they do every day, for loving what they do, and for contributing to the success of our students.

A big THANK YOU to all our faculty and staff, and GO HUSKIES!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Walking the earth like brothers and sisters

“We’ve learned to fly the air like birds. We’ve learned to swim the seas like fish. And yet we haven’t learned to walk the earth like brothers and sisters.” (The words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

On Monday we honored the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s timeless messages of peace, love and harmony remain as purposeful today as they were over 50 years ago when his life was tragically cut short.  

While we do many things well at Bloomsburg University, we still have work to do in some areas.  One of those areas for improvement is serving our underrepresented population of students, faculty and staff. On that note, I have recently charged a small group of BU faculty and staff – a Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion – with reviewing all of BU’s offices, departments, programs and initiatives and making recommendations that will ensure ours is a welcoming university that embraces diversity and inclusion in all aspects.

I am grateful to the members of this commission; their work begins this semester.  Over the next several months, you will hear more about them, their findings and recommendations.  Please support them, and the vital mission they will be undertaking. 

I ask you to join me in making BU a welcoming community for all so that we can “walk the earth like brothers and sisters.”

Thank you and GO HUSKIES!

Bashar W. Hanna

Friday, December 21, 2018

Greek Life Update

In response to disturbing allegations of hazing within our Greek community earlier this fall, the University immediately suspended all new membership education activities and commenced an external investigation. In its initial findings, our external investigator (Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP) has shared with us detailed, credible and corroborated information about additional incidents within our Greek community, all of which are deeply troubling. These recent incidents include allegations of assault, forced ingestion, and physical and mental abuse. Such incidents jeopardize the health and safety of our students, and there is absolutely no place for such misconduct within our campus community.

Our students’ safety remains our highest priority. We condemn these recent incidents because they collectively threaten the health and safety of our students. The severity of these allegations, though, compels us to consider not just the safety of our students, but also the ideals of basic human decency and the general respect for the safety and well-being of others. We will not tolerate such reckless behavior, and we must elevate the behavioral and cultural expectations of our students going forward.

To that end, upon reviewing the external investigator’s initial findings, the University has placed several Greek social organizations on interim suspension. For those organizations that are not suspended, the moratorium on new member education activities will be lifted effective the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester. I want to emphasize, however, that the investigation remains ongoing for all Greek social organizations. There remains the possibility of further sanctions for any Greek organization, pending additional findings through our Student Code of Conduct.

To strengthen the overall Greek life experience, and to change the culture to one where students respect and value one another’s health and well-being in accordance with the values espoused by such organizations, we will be implementing new requirements for all members of social fraternities and sororities beginning next semester, including mandatory educational sessions on a variety of topics. I have also asked the Division of Student Affairs to conduct a comprehensive review of the process that governs recognition for fraternities and sororities. This review will include (but not be limited to) structure, membership, risk management, community expectations, and recommendations for new procedures and process.

I remind everyone that if you suspect hazing in any form within any group, team or organization, please contact our Dean of Students Office, or call the Hazing Hotline at 866-755-4293. Our ability to intervene and stop hazing depends on all of us.

The health and well-being of our students will continue to be our highest priority, and I look forward to working with our Greek student leaders, chapter advisors, alumni leaders, and my colleagues in Student Affairs in ensuring this priority. Together, we will eradicate hazing and other misconduct on our campus, we will elevate the behavioral standards and expectations for all our students, and we will change a Greek culture that desperately needs it. As a community, we at Bloomsburg University can and will do better.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Strategic Priority: Student Success

Strategic Priority: Student Success.

It’s no secret that enrollment at colleges and universities around the country has been declining for several years, including here at BU. Recently I spoke to our campus Forum (an open session for faculty, staff and student leaders) about our strategic priorities for the coming years. One of the top priorities for the coming year is student success.

By enrolling at our institution, our students have entrusted us with their future -- to provide them with high-quality relevant education in their chosen field of study, and to prepare them to compete in the 21st century.

Dr. Daniel Greenstein, our new State System Chancellor, stated this same sentiment during a recent visit to campus: “The challenges … boil down to one, really, how to sustain the system and our universities in order to ensure that all students can affordably get the education they need after high school to support themselves and their families; to participate in the 21st-century economy; and to contribute to their communities.”

To move our students towards that goal, we must be diligent in keeping our students involved with campus life, especially in their first year.  A theory called Alexander Astin's Theory of Involvement, details how student involvement in co-curricular activities such as student organizations, leadership positions, and activity in campus residence halls has a positive correlation with retention and academics (Kuh and Pike, 2005).  Because of the positive aspects of co-curricular involvement, universities have been encouraging students to become involved.  To foster development of that goal here at BU, we’ll look to expand our civic engagement and service learning opportunities along with co-curricular activities for our students.

I am charging our faculty and staff with the goal of raising the retention rate for first-year students by a modest one to two percent. Just a one percent increase is an additional 18 students.  Over four years, that amounts to an additional 72 students.  Our biggest area of concern is our undeclared student population where just 58 percent of the students persist into year two.  Helping these students find a direction will take much work, but we are committed to this goal.  I am confident that the BU family of faculty, staff and administrators are poised to meet and exceed this goal.

In addition, we are looking to increase transfer enrollment by two to three percent and graduate school enrollment by five percent in year one.

There is much work ahead of us in the coming years, but with everyone working towards the common goal, we will be successful.

It’s been said that it takes a village.  For us here at BU, we as a family are committed to ensuring student success – and as I stated during my inauguration address, I am determined to achieve this priority “with my pack of Huskies by my side.” 


Monday, August 20, 2018

A new school year is upon us

The calendar in my office and the weather outside indeed indicates that summer is still with us. But, for those of us in higher education, August means the start of another academic year is here. Many of our returning students have been busy this summer with internships and study abroad trips (along with their summer jobs). Weekly I hear from our faculty about the great work our students have been doing at these internships, some of which we have been able to highlight on our website. I hope you’ll take a moment to read over some of the stories.

 During the week of Aug. 20, we will welcome the class of 2022 to campus. Move-in week is a milestone event in the lives of both students and parents. For many of our students, they are the first member of their families to attend college. They venture into the unknown, but we are here to assist them in any way possible. Our Orientation Workshop Leaders (OWLs) are not afraid to offer a helping hand to someone who might be lost or needs a hand pushing a cart of a ramp or a hill. During move-in week many bonds of friendship are formed among our new students as they take part in many activities and learn what it takes to be on their own for the first time.

I can also report that it has been a busy summer for work crews here on campus. Some days have been tougher than others maneuvering around lower campus and getting to upper campus has been a challenge at times. If you have not been here over the summer, you will notice some big changes.

To start, the entrance to campus at Lightstreet Road, Swisher Circle and Country Club Road has been undergoing a summer-long rehabilitation. Turning lanes have been built, sidewalks added, curbing installed and new lighting will brighten the area at night. It will hopefully relieve the backups that occur in the morning and afternoons as well as when we host big events.

Also, work continues on the Lycoming Hall renovation with the exterior stairway construction still to be finished along with air conditioning and other inside renovations.  On upper campus work on the pool is being done and a new addition to Redman Stadium is on the way. (I hope you’ll get to the season-opener on Sept. 1 to see what’s new.)

I hope that everyone enjoys what is left of the summer season and has a great 2018-19 academic year. As always, if you see me out on campus, in a dining hall or having a coffee, please come up and say hello. I want to meet as many of you as possible.

Go Huskies!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

It's Been a Great First Year

The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” may be cliché, but it’s so true for me. Where have the last 12 months gone? It seems like only yesterday I was arriving to Carver Hall to humbly serve as the 19th president of Bloomsburg University. Now more than 12 months have passed and I can stop, look back, and reflect on how much I have enjoyed getting to know our students, our faculty and staff, and our many graduates. You’ve embraced me and made me feel part of the BU family in ways I could never have imagined.

As I sit here and think about all that has happened, I am honored to have been a part of so many wonderful events and look forward to meeting more new people in the next 12 months.

We had many highlights in the last 12 months starting with last August when we have welcomed more than 1,600 new students to the Husky family. That was followed by the dedication of Soltz Hall, our new suite-style apartment building and the close of the It’s Personal capital campaign, the most successful one in university history. In December over 400 students became the first BU graduates with me as president. In late April I survived the inauguration ceremony, and in May we celebrated the graduation of over 1,500 Huskies.

Our students continue to show all of us how they want to help those around them by holding the biggest Big Event in school history; putting on one of the most elaborate Make-A-Wish reveals ever for a local child battling cancer; hosting the annual Bocce Ball Bash for Special Olympics as well as the annual Relay for Life event for cancer research.

Another one of the enjoyable parts of this job has been the chance to meet and talk with everyone. My chats with students in Starbucks, the dining halls or just walking through campus, have given me a real sense of what is important to them and reminds me daily of why I got into higher education. I’ve also had the chance to meet with many faculty and staff (both active and retired) and find out what they like about working here at BU and ways we can make this an even better place to work.

And finally, as I travel the state and around the country to meet with our alumni, there is one common theme I hear over and over and that’s about how “someone at BU changed my life.” That power of transforming the life of someone (and their family for generations to come) is something we can’t take lightly. I am also thankful for all our alumni and friends who continue to support current and future Huskies. Every gift has an impact, more than you can imagine.

There is a lot of work to be done in the next 12 months, but I know, with the help of my pack of Huskies by my side, we will continue to be successful and accomplish our mission which is to educate the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond.

Until next month, GO HUSKIES!