Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Celebrating Our 2023 Graduates


Earlier this month, I had the privilege of presiding over Commonwealth University’s commencement ceremonies. Over two days, three campuses, and four ceremonies 1,775 graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and begin the next stage of their lives. I am so incredibly proud of the commitment, perseverance, and heart they have shown in earning their degrees. During my remarks to the class of 2023, I shared a favorite quote by Nelson Mandela. He said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to the change the world.”

Our Commonwealth University graduates have the power to do just that. They are a class of world changers and difference makers, willing to work hard, sacrifice, and give back to others. They have overcome much in their journey to a degree. The pandemic marked their academic experience and tested their resolve and resilience. But they did not give up. Surrounded by a caring community of friends, family, professors, and staff, they found the strength to keep going and achieve more than they may have thought possible.

In his address to the Lock Haven graduates, 2023 graduate and student trustee Justin White shared, “Here we are, ready to take on the world, to pursue our dreams, and to make a difference. We may have different paths ahead of us, but we share one thing in common: the determination to succeed.” Justin’s sentiments captured the spirit of this year’s class of Huskies, Mounties, and Bald Eagles; they are a group of ambitious and determined, strong and selfless, caring and creative individuals who are poised to make a difference in everything they do.

My message for the graduating class of 2023, whether you are graduating from high school, college, or have earned an advanced degree is to focus first on the strength of your character and success will follow. As I shared with our Commonwealth U graduates, character is something that you develop over time. Character is built through your experiences, your relationships, and your choices. As you go through life, make choices that will strengthen your character. Choose to be honest, even when it is hard. Choose to be kind, even when it is not reciprocated. Choose to be responsible, even when it is inconvenient. Make choices and stand up for what you believe in, even in the face of adversity. Your unique character is what will guide you through life’s journey. It will set you apart and make you successful in all aspects of your lives. Embrace the choices you make today, for they shape the person you become tomorrow.

Class of 2023, the world needs you and your potential to be extraordinary. I am proud of you. I believe in you. I can’t wait to see all the good you will do for the world. Congratulations!

Mansfield Graduation 

Lock Haven Graduation 

   Bloomsburg Graduation 

Bashar W. Hanna, President 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Growing and Giving Back


“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” These words from Helen Keller epitomize the events taking place across our campuses as we launch into the spring season and the final weeks of the semester.

Spring is a time for growth, and it’s been in full bloom these last few weeks as we’ve all enjoyed the warmth and sunshine the season has brought. Earlier this month, students at Bloomsburg and Lock Haven participated in The Big Event—a campus-wide day of service focused on sending student volunteers out into the community to complete service projects. I’m incredibly proud of the selflessness exhibited by our students and their willingness to give back to the communities our campuses call home. Over 1,000 students took part in The Big Event, making a big impact on the towns of Bloomsburg and Lock Haven. At Mansfield, students rallied together through the annual Paddy Murphy fundraiser to raise $10,000 for a local teacher battling cancer. The campus also hosted Relay for Life this month.

Bloomsburg students at the start of the Big Event 

Lock Haven students filled Jared Boxes during the Big Event 

Mansfield students gather during Paddy Murphy Week

Volunteerism centers around selflessness, and at this busy time of the semester when many priorities compete for our students’ time and attention, it’s inspiring to witness them take a step back to give back. I’m always incredibly proud of our students and their dedication to excelling academically. Our campuses are filled with future leaders who will go on to achieve great things and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways. I have always believed that effective leadership is rooted in servant leadership, which is why it’s so heartening to see our students embracing these principles. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Our students are living this truth by doing work that matters, both in and out of the classroom.

We know that our students carry these values with them long after their days on campus. The generosity of our alumni prove it year after year. April has been a month of giving for our proud alumni and supporters as well. They are supporting our students in big ways through the All In Days of Giving, which took place earlier this month and raised over $375,000. These gifts make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students and support valuable initiatives that lead directly to enhanced learning experiences and outcomes for our students.

Growth. Giving Back. In so many ways, this is what the college experience is all about. I often speak about our number one priority at Commonwealth University—student success. As president, it’s incredibly rewarding to see our students grow as individuals in their four years here. It’s even more rewarding to know that the students who came before them are instilling the value of giving back—demonstrating the truest measure of success.

Thank you, sincerely, to every student and supporter for the generosity of spirit and selflessness you have demonstrated this month. Your actions have made a difference in the lives of others!

    Bashar W. Hanna, President

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Focus on Mental Health: Tips to Help Students Overcome Mental and Emotional Burnout

Burnout can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. It leads to fatigue, irritability, and decreased motivation. Mental stress can be particularly challenging for students. Burnout can lead to diminished academic performance. As we reach the midpoint in the semester, it’s important to recognize the signs of burnout and implement strategies to overcome it.

Some of the damaging effects of experiencing mental and emotional exhaustion for students include: 

  • Decreased engagement in course material and activities
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing on tasks
  • Feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Increased stress and anxiety levels
  • Loss of motivation and enthusiasm for learning
  • Decreased self-esteem and confidence

Juggling your studies with other commitments and responsibilities is challenging, but with the right strategies, you can manage your workload and stay motivated. The following tips may help you manage and stay focused:

1. Take a Break

Regular breaks from the demands of school can reduce stress and give the brain a chance to reset. Moreover, taking a break can help prevent procrastination, as it helps you feel refreshed and ready to tackle your work. 

2. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is vital for both physical and mental health. It helps to restore energy levels, regulate hormones, and improve concentration. Studies have shown that people who get enough sleep are more productive and have better overall health. Lack of sleep can lead to various health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and obesity.


3. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule

You'll feel more rested and energized during the day if you keep to a regular sleep schedule. It can help regulate your body's biological clock, which is vital for overall health. Additionally, as your body becomes used to the same routine each night, you can start falling asleep more quickly and easily.


4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol 

Keeping caffeine and alcohol out of your system before bed can improve sleep quality. As a stimulant, caffeine raises alertness and energy levels, making it more difficult for you to unwind and sleep.

Alcohol, on the other hand, can make you feel sleepy at first but also interfere with your sleep later in the night. It's best to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed because they can disrupt REM sleep, which is necessary for restorative sleep.


5. Exercise

Physical activity is an effective way of managing stress and anxiety. Exercise reduces stress levels and increases endorphins, helping to improve mood and energy levels. Plus, regular exercise can also help enhance sleep quality and increase focus and concentration. Moreover, it can reduce anxiety and depression, both common symptoms of burnout and stress. Find a friend and take an exercise study break. Even a quick walk on campus can provide numerous benefits.


6. Ask for Help When Needed

Whether it's from your instructors or peers, getting help can be invaluable in helping you stay on track with your studies. Seeking help can provide you with the support and resources you need to manage stress and burnout. 


7. Prioritize Tasks

Achieving success requires efficient time and task management and prioritization. With the proper focus on your most important tasks, you can stay organized and motivated. 

Taking the time to prioritize your tasks is the key to staying organized and reducing stress. It'll help you stay focused on the tasks that matter most and have the highest impact. Knowing which projects to tackle first will help you feel more in control and ensure timely completion of your goals.


8. Set Deadlines

Sticking to deadlines is essential for staying on track and achieving your goals. Setting deadlines, helps you avoid procrastination. Doing this will help you become more productive and accelerate your progress toward success.


9. Take It Step by Step

Breaking projects into smaller, achievable pieces is the best way to keep stress levels low and stay organized. When you tackle tasks bit by bit, it's easier to reach your goals and experience the satisfaction of getting closer to them every step of the way.



Burnout is a common challenge among students, and it can affect academic performance. My hope for all Commonwealth U students is that by understanding and recognizing the signs of burnout and exhaustion, you can use these tips to care for yourself and keep your workload manageable while giving your all to your coursework.

As we move into this second half of the semester, remember to take regular breaks, break down tasks into more manageable chunks, and take care of your physical and mental health. With the right strategies, you can stay motivated, productive, and successful in your studies and life. Wishing you all the best!

Bashar W. Hanna, President 


Monday, February 6, 2023

Human Together--Celebrating Black History Month

Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu said, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” As we embark on Black History Month, let us find opportunities to recognize our shared humanity—our histories, personal stories, and struggles. The more we learn about one another, the more we uncover about ourselves.   

 Each of our Commonwealth University locations will host a number of Black History Month events. I encourage everyone in our community to attend and engage in these events on your campus—they serve as meaningful avenues to engage, learn, and grow. Thank you to the students, faculty, and staff who have made these opportunities possible.

Commonwealth University Black History Month Events 


February 6th—30th Annual Martin Luther King Jr Commemorative Celebration
6:00pm, Carver Hall

February 9th –The AME church and Local Black History
4:30pm, Multicultural Center, Room 230, Kehr Union Building

February 15th—Black History Resources: Why they Matter
3:00pm, Multicultural Center, Room 230, Kehr Union Building
The workshop will Describe how State Historic Preservation Offices treat Black Heritage Resource and Explore differences between states and regions in how these resources are treated.  Recommend how to improve the management of Black cultural resources and consultation. Discuss together how to engage Black stakeholders better across the United States and its territories in the management of their Heritage Resources.

Saturday February 18—28th Annual Sankofa Conference: "The Multipliers: A Trauma-informed approach to leadership," 
11:00am, Kehr Union Ballroom
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Nathaniel Woods Jr. special assistant to the President for Inclusion Transformation at Pennsylvania College of Technology
Registration is required. Please use link to register: https://www.bloomu.edu/sankofa-conference

Thursday February 23— 2023 Black Wall Street
6:00pm, Kehr Union Building Multi A
Come and support black business during Black wall street as black businesses showcase their products or services. 

Lock Haven

Feb. 7th – Black History Gallery Opening in the RDLMC 

The saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." In this context, the Black History Gallery has PLENTY to say.  The gallery will be a testament to the contributions of African Americans on a national and local level.

Feb. 8th – Black History Month Celebration
6:30pm,  PUB MPR 
Join the Black Student Union and the Robert and Dolores Lynch Multicultural Center as they celebrate the achievements of African Americans and recognize significant events that impacted US history.  All are welcome, dinner will be provided!

Feb. 15th – “LHU Black History Panel - Focus on the 1970s”
7:00pm, Price Auditorium
The panel is a phenomenal opportunity for members of the Lock Haven University (LHU) community to learn more about LHU history from the perspective of African American graduates. Panelists will share prospective and insights from their time at LHU. 

Feb. 23rd – Hip Hop and R&B Playlist Bingo
7:00 pm, PUB MPR
Hip Hop and R&B Playlist Bingo is a high-energy take on classic bingo.  It draws from participants’ knowledge of hits from musical artists like Alicia Keys, Usher, TLC, Ludacris and more. Just try not to dance along! Participants are ready to play with just their phone and a tablet or laptop. Customized Hip Hop R&B Playlist Bingo card are provided.  Players will sing along to their favorite songs while they mark off the artist on their Hip Hop R&B Playlist Bingo card. The first person to line up five in a row wins!  All are welcome!  Cash prizes will be awarded! 

Feb. 28th -“Why DEI Is Not Enough: Using the Inclusive Excellence Framework to Create and Sustain a Culture of Belonging”
6:30pm, PUB MPR
Presented by Dr. Shavonne Shorter Associate Provost for Equity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer, and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Digital Studies – During this presentation, Dr. Shorter will examine the importance of an Inclusive Excellence Framework in growing and sustaining a diverse and inclusive learning, living, and working environment that has belonging at its core.


Feb. 9th I Have a Dream: Vision Board Night
5:00pm, Alumni 307
Pizza and supplies provided.

Feb. 16th—Epic Rap Battles of History
7:00pm, The Hut

Feb. 21st—Black History Trivia
7:00pm, The Hut

Feb 22nd—Mysteries, Murder, and Your Mom Podcast presents the MLK Assassination
4:30pm, Alumni 307

Feb. 23rd—Lunch and Learn: The Underground Railroad in Tioga County
11:30am, Alumni 317
Now leaving for Lawrenceville, The Underground Railroad in Tioga County: What we can learn from Harriet Tubman. Presented by Phillip Hesser, Ph.D. Light refreshments provided. 



    Bashar W. Hanna, President

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Happy Holidays

This has been an exciting year for all of us at Commonwealth University. We have officially come together as Huskies, Bald Eagles, and Mounties and have enjoyed an energizing fall semester. 

I wish you a safe and happy holiday season! Please enjoy this special holiday message. 


Bashar W. Hanna, President

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Giving Thanks

For me, the end of the calendar year and completion of our first semester always ushers in a season of reflection and thankfulness. As I reflect on the past year and consider all that was accomplished, I am most grateful for my colleagues across Commonwealth University. Our mission is only possible because of so many dedicated individuals working toward the same goal—improving and increasing opportunities for our students.

And so, in this season of thankfulness, I am filled with appreciation and gratitude for the people that make Commonwealth University run, day in and day out. Wonderful things are happening in Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield as a result.

At Mansfield, student Lauren Griffith recently received a NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant, which she plans to use to continue her research on pancreatic cancer under the mentorship of faculty member Dr. Kristen Long, associate professor of biology.

Mansfield student Lauren Griffith at work in the lab. 

At Lock Haven, students, faculty, and staff came together to plant a community orchard to combat food insecurity. Biology faculty from across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), led by Dr. Heather Bechtold, collaborated on the project, which will not only provide food for students, but serve as an outdoor classroom.

Students and faculty at Lock Haven plant a tree on campus.

At Bloomsburg, students are learning with cutting-edge technology under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Technology and Analytics, Dr. Scott Mehall. The Hololens is an augmented reality tool that allows students to utilize emerging technology that will likely play a major role in the future of work, giving students hands-on experiences that prepare them for future success.

A Bloomsburg student demonstrates use of the Hololens.

These are just a few examples of the exciting and impactful hands-on experiences taking place across our campuses. I’m grateful for the opportunities afforded our students by our highly talented faculty and staff.

Such student experiences would not be possible without the support of our generous partners in education. I am grateful for our numerous alumni, donors, and friends who share our vision and support our mission. Their generosity helps our students in immeasurable ways, from philanthropic support to mentorship, to networking and career opportunities. 

In this season of celebration and thankfulness, I’m filled with gratitude and admiration for our University family and all that we have accomplished together. I wish you a restful, restorative Thanksgiving and look forward to continuing our mission of supporting our students and their success in the coming year.


Bashar W. Hanna, President

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Our Campuses Rally Support

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Worldwide during the month of October, people show their support and raise awareness for individuals affected by Breast Cancer.

This year, the National Breast Cancer Foundation embraces the theme RISE, or Rally in Screening Everyone to encourage and ensure that every individual has access to life saving screenings and support. Currently, breast cancer represents 15% of all new cancer cases in the US. Due to early detection, breast cancer fatality rates have decreased by 40% since 1986, which is why it’s so important to continue to raise awareness for screening and early detection.

Across our campuses, our students and campus communities demonstrate their support for Breast Cancer Awareness through a number of events and fundraising opportunities. Athletic teams across the campuses held Pink Out events to support the cause, giving attendees opportunities to donate, don pink ribbons, and receive information about Breast Cancer awareness month.

Zeta Tau Alpha at Lock Haven organized a Pink Week filled with activities aimed at raising awareness and support for those affected by Breast Cancer. The group took their advocacy to the local community with a Spike Out Breast Cancer Volleyball game at nearby Central Mountain High School to pass out pink ribbons and collect donations.

At Bloomsburg, over 300 students participated in the 20th annual Breast Cancer Walk on Sunday, October 9. So far, students have collected over $3,000 to benefit Breast Cancer awareness, and will be continuing to accept donations until the end of the month. 

This month, Mansfield Football and Field Hockey teams held Pink-Out games, and Women’s Soccer hosted a tripleheader Pink Out. The events rallied support for an important cause.

Thank you to our students and campus community for their support and advocacy during Breast Cancer Awareness month. One of the things I’m most proud of is the way our university community rallies together to care for one another. By raising awareness for issues that affect us all, we can help to ensure the health and vitality of our university family.

    Bashar W. Hanna, President