Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Doing our part

Each spring for the past decade, Bloomsburg University students have participated in “The Big Event,” a Saturday in which thousands of students volunteer their time and help members of the Bloomsburg community with projects ranging from assisting a local business with its exterior design to doing a backyard cleanup for elderly residents. Whatever the task, our students have accepted the various challenges with cheerful attitudes and a sense of pride in giving back – because giving back to the community is in their DNA. Organized each year by the elected student leaders of BU’s Community Government Association, this event serves as a wonderful example of the power of collaboration for the benefit of our neighbors and community partners.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and current social distancing guidelines, this year’s Big Event was unfortunately canceled not long after BU made the difficult decision last month to move to online instruction for the remainder of the semester.

During these extraordinary times, the opportunity to assist a fellow member of the community is challenging, if not impossible. Despite these challenges, however, I am proud to say that Bloomsburg University continues to do its part by helping in the community.

Since the last week of March, thanks to the generosity and compassion of our nursing department, and to the resourcefulness and ingenuity of my colleagues in both the College of Science and Technology and the Zeigler College of Business (where we used our 3D printers in the Nicholas J. Giuffre Center for Supply Chain Management to produce masks and face shields), Bloomsburg University has donated the following personal protective equipment items to Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, and Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg:
  • 3,714 surgical masks
  • 1,272 N95 masks
  • 300 isolation gowns (and 15 disposable gowns)
  • 150 face shields
  • 60 visors
  • 50 medical coveralls
  • Multiple boxes of sterile gloves and non-sterile gloves
Because our students are not on campus and almost all of our residence halls are vacant, we are also prepared to provide temporary living quarters to Geisinger employees who are seeking alternative accommodations out of concern for exposure to their own family members. According to a metric geometry working group at Tufts University in Boston, there currently exist 46,167 total hospital beds in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania while there is capacity for 196,174 individuals in empty dorm rooms at colleges and universities across the state. It is my hope that this pandemic does not create an urgent need for rooms at BU or any other institution of higher learning in Pennsylvania. But given the current environment on college campuses, it is clear that universities are well situated to assist local hospitals should that need unfortunately arise.

While I am proud of the many Bloomsburg University alumni who are health care professionals fighting on the front lines of this pandemic in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, I am equally as proud of what BU is doing in this area – and I hope that our actions can serve as an example of the opportunity to make even a small difference in the community amidst challenging times.

As we face an uncertain future together, it is ever more important to strengthen our ties within this region so that all can benefit in brighter days ahead. I personally look forward to those brighter days ahead when our students return to campus, and to one day in particular next year: The Big Event in Spring 2021. I hope it will be the biggest and most impactful one yet.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Our semester begins anew

Just a few weeks ago, our students left campus for various destinations with the plan to return for classes after their spring break. As you all know, our world has changed significantly since then because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, we resume our academic semester through remote teaching and learning. This is not a day any of us had anticipated when we began the semester in January, but the current circumstances have required us to move to online instruction for the remainder of the semester. The health and safety of our entire BU community is our highest priority, and it is my sincere hope that this message finds each of you in good health.

I want to take a moment to thank our students and their families. In the past few weeks, we have made several decisions that have impacted our students’ academics, their living arrangements, and the BU experience with which they have become so accustomed. I am ever grateful to each and every one of them for their patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.

I also extend my heartfelt gratitude to my colleagues for their service, selflessness, and support these past couple weeks. This global pandemic has led to extraordinary circumstances, and the response from our faculty and staff has been equally extraordinary.

As our semester begins anew, I am filled with pride – Husky Pride – and great confidence that we are embarking on this journey together. As one pack, let us finish the semester with the grit and determination for which Huskies are known. May we face this uncharted territory as a family and do what we do best by supporting one another, even if from afar.

Please stay connected each day by checking our website, please focus on your health and well-being in the weeks ahead, and GO HUSKIES!



Friday, February 28, 2020

A month of good deeds and great speakers

As President of BU, I often have an opportunity to talk about our students and share their inspirational stories of determination and success. It’s not as frequent that I have the chance to sing the praises of an important extension of our BU family: the parents and supporters of our students. I will take that opportunity now to say how fortunate we are to have such great students and families who are willing to go the extra mile on behalf of others.

In a recent post in one of our BU parent Facebook groups, it was mentioned that some of our students face food insecurity issues – and how heartwarming it was to hear of the positive response to this post! Multiple parents sent so many care packages and food donations to our campus, and BU was able to deliver more than three carloads of food to the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard, which collaborates with the University to provide food for BU students in need.

THANK YOU to all those parents who stepped up and supported this great cause. Because of your generosity, our students (and residents of the Town of Bloomsburg) were able to find the assistance they needed for a basic requirement we sometimes take for granted. Thank you again.

As we conclude the month of February, I’d also like to thank my colleagues who were instrumental in coordinating recent events in celebration of Black History Month. Two tremendously powerful speakers that visited us here at BU were Mr. Bakari Sellers, a lawyer and political commentator who spoke about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and
Mr. Yusef Salem, a member of the “Central Park Five” (one of a group of five boys whose convictions for a crime they did not commit were eventually overturned) who served as the keynote speaker at our annual Sankofa Conference.

Finally, we’re proud to share the story of Ms. Edith Angeline Dennis, Bloomsburg’s first African American boarding student and a member of the Class of 1919. Her – and her family’s – story is an inspiring one, and it’s one we share with the entire BU family in the latest edition of Bloomsburg: The University Magazine. Enjoy!

Friday, January 24, 2020

New Semester, New Year, Go Huskies

I hope our students have had a good first week of classes as we begin this new semester. Welcome back and a happy spring semester to all!

Just before the winter break, we concluded the fall semester with several major announcements. First, BU received from alumnus Steph Pettit ‘89 a $10 million donation, a transformational gift that will benefit generations of Huskies to come. In recognition of this gift, BU will rename its athletic complex the Bloomsburg University Pettit Athletic Complex.

In addition, Michael ’85 and Beth Boguski have committed $500,000 to the Bloomsburg University Foundation to support experiential learning opportunities for students. In recognition of their generosity, BU has renamed the dean’s suite in the Zeigler College of Business in their honor. I am ever grateful to Mike and Beth Boguski, and to Steph Pettit, for their continued generosity and support of BU.

Lastly, we were pleased to announce last December the addition of two new leaders to the Husky Family: Dr. Daryl Fridley will become our new Dean of the College of Education beginning in March 2020; and former Husky great Frank Sheptock ’86 is our new head football coach.

I look forward to seeing our students, faculty and staff, and alumni and friends around campus this semester, as well as at various sporting events on upper campus. Happy 2020 and Go Huskies!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Together as one BU Family

At noontime on Wednesday on our Quad, a student demonstration took place in response to a disturbing video that surfaced on social media this past weekend. In the 30-second video, a BU student was recorded while using a racial slur a few times.

As an immigrant who has been subjected to racist language during my own lifetime, I was appalled by the disturbing language in this video and felt compelled to share a message with the BU Family. Part of my message: “As a safe, inclusive and diverse campus community, we promote and value the human dignity of all each and every day. The actions and language in the student’s video do not represent Bloomsburg University and do not reflect our values.”

My sincere congratulations to our student leaders, who on Wednesday put together an impressive campus event that was well organized, collaborative, positive, and peaceful. Along with many of my colleagues, I joined our students and marched with them. As I said to the students at the event’s conclusion in front of Carver Hall, I am proud of all of them for having the courage to speak their minds, and for keeping the event peaceful. Our collective voice joined together in a unified way, is far more powerful and will accomplish so much more.

It is my pledge to our students to continue to work with them, to join our hearts, hands, and voices for the benefit of all our students – those who have expressed their concerns and those who have not. Together as one BU Family, we will make Bloomsburg University the model institution of which we can all be proud.

    Bashar W. Hanna

Friday, September 27, 2019

A Busy Start to the Fall

It’s been a busy start to the fall semester here “on the hill” in Bloomsburg.  The leaves are beginning to change on campus, the temperature is perfect under beautifully sunny skies, and Homecoming and Parents & Family Weekends are quickly approaching.

If you haven't seen our brand video, please take a minute to watch it here. You'll be inspired by the powerful message that tells the story of BU. Also, soon we'll have new banners popping up all over campus, billboards will be going up in selected markets, and our new admissions materials will be in the hands of our potential incoming students. You’ll also see many of our students on campus wearing t-shirts with the Your Onward is Upward message. We’ll have more to giveaway as the semester rolls along.

Earlier this month, we unveiled our new SEKISUI Professional Experience Lab (PEL) at the Greenly Center on Main Street.  I urge you to visit the Greenly Center and the PEL on the third floor.  Ronn Cort, President and COO of SEKISUI SPI, summed up the September 5th dedication event perfectly by saying the following: “If you consider BU a thread, SEKISUI a thread and the town a thread, when you wind them together, the thread is stronger together than separately. We want to see our workers who graduate from BU stay in the area and strengthen all of us.”  We are fortunate to be working with forward-thinking employer-partners like SEKISUI SPI who share our same commitment to our students and their success. Please click here to see a short video of the SEKISUI Professional Experience Lab dedication event.

This month we also received notice of being ranked among the top colleges and universities by Forbes, Money, Inc. and U.S. News & World Report.  These rankings are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff.  The credit goes to them, and most importantly, to our high-achieving students who are determined to achieve even more.

Speaking of our students, I’d like to close this blog post by recognizing all our students and student organizations that coordinated our annual 9/11 tribute on the Quad this month.  What a powerful tribute this was, especially when one considers that many of our students are too young to remember the tragic events in 2001.  For this reason, it is ever important to honor the memory of those we lost.  THANK YOU to our students on a job very well done!


Friday, August 9, 2019

Welcome to the Class of 2023!

Nothing excites those of us in higher education more than the arrival of first-year students to campus during the summer months. For four days in June and another three in July, Bloomsburg University’s Class of 2023 spent time on campus for our summer orientation sessions.

These sessions provided our students a critical opportunity to take those first steps from their high school days to their college years. Our colleagues in student affairs work hard throughout the year to prepare for these sessions and ensure that they are both informative and fun — a big thank you to our staff members and all student volunteers for their efforts on behalf of the incoming class.

To the Class of 2023, welcome to BU! We look forward to great things from you, and I know you are ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead. With grit and determination, you will show those who may have doubted you in the past to watch what you can accomplish at BU.

You’re ready to thrive and excel, and inspire those who follow in your path. I also encourage you to get involved with the many clubs and activities at BU. We offer countless opportunities for you to explore and develop as a person in and out of the classroom. Don’t sit back and be a follower — be a Husky and lead the pack!

To parents and guardians of the BU Class of 2023, you have done your part to prepare your child for the next four years. You have instilled in them the character and confidence to meet all challenges head-on. Watch what they can unleash in the years ahead.

Again, welcome to the Class of 2023 and Go Huskies!

    Bashar W. Hanna