Tuesday, September 27, 2022

You Are Never Alone: A Community That Cares

 

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. This is a time to come together as a community to acknowledge and recognize the importance of raising awareness around this important issue. As a community that cares about one another, we can all play a role in supporting each other.

At this time in the semester, things can begin to feel overwhelming. I encourage you, despite the pressure of rigorous academic work, to prioritize your mental health and wellbeing and be gracious with yourself. Be sure you are making time to spend time with friends and family, and doing things you enjoy. We are at our best when we are fully ourselves and grounded in our relationships and connection to others. Even when things seem difficult or isolating, you are never alone. Your university family cares deeply about you and your future.

As a community, it’s important to be there for others and to watch for signs of friends, students, colleagues, and classmates who may be struggling. Many suicides can be prevented by caring individuals who recognize the red flags:

·       Withdrawing socially
·       Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
·       Sudden decrease in school performance and behavior issues
·       Drop in work performance
·       Changes in hygiene and appearance
·       Increased irritability
·       Feelings of hopelessness or being a burden
·       Talk of death, dying, or not wanting to be around anymore
·       Researching possible suicide methods

Resources are available if you are or know someone who may be struggling. I encourage you to reach out to our campus counseling centers at Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a free resource available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As we work hard to achieve our goals, let’s remember to lean on each other and look out for one another. We’re all in this together and I am proud to be part of a community that supports, uplifts, and truly cares about each other.

 Bashar W. Hanna, President 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

A Historic Time for Public Higher Education

 

As we near the end of August and the summer begins to slip away, those of us in higher education see this time of year as a new beginning. Our students have returned to campus, and the air has filled with equal parts excitement and anticipation.

For our new students, this is the beginning of a life-changing journey. No other transition in life is as transformative as the start of a collegiate career. Remarkable opportunities await and I urge our students to make the most of them. For our returning students, arriving back on campus should feel like a homecoming. They are being reunited with friends, professors, and valued staff members as they move ever closer to their goal of graduating.

That goal of graduation rests at the heart of our mission as educators. I’m encouraged to witness the trajectory we’re taking in Pennsylvania in support of our students and their future success. This is a historic time for public higher education in Pennsylvania. The past few months have seen both a first-of-its-kind integration of public institutions and record investment by the legislature in our state-owned universities. The unprecedented 16% increase in the State System’s appropriation signifies the state’s support of the power and promise of public higher education in Pennsylvania.

We at Commonwealth University are paving the way for bold ideas and collaborations as we embark on a new path that unites three historic institutions—Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield. Individually, these schools carry storied legacies of educating students, serving their communities, and preparing tomorrow’s leaders. Together, as Commonwealth University, we will offer students increased access to a broader range of academic programs, opportunities for experiential learning and research, keeping an eye to affordability, while promising a high-quality education powered by high-impact practices. Students graduating from Commonwealth University, many of whom stay and work in the region, will be prepared to enter the workforce and make an immediate impact in their careers and communities.

This season of new beginnings is brimming with possibility and promise, and I hope that, like me, you’re eager to join the journey.

Bashar W. Hanna, President 


Student Athletes move in at Lock Haven

Bloomsburg students are all smiles walking across campus 


Move in day at Mansfield 


    Bashar W. Hanna, President


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Commencement Season

The end of the academic year generates a myriad of emotions for those of us working in academia. For me, these emotions have been tripled by serving as the president of three universities.

On the one hand, we are happy to see the students we as educators have mentored and worked with for years reach the pinnacle of their journey and walk across the stage having earned a college degree. They have forever changed the trajectory of their futures.

On the other hand, we are saddened by their departure as they will no longer be part of our daily life. We are left with the beautiful memories we shared in and out of the classroom, watching them mature into young adults with aspirations of greatness awaiting them in the world.

At Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield, these students, now graduates, have become woven into the fabric of our collective university histories. They have taken their wide-eyed, curiosity-filled minds, worked hard, overcome adversity, excelled, and grown to new heights.

I wish that wherever life’s journey takes the class of 2022, they will never forget their time spent with us in Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, or Mansfield and fondly recall how they grew from teens to young adults and into contributing, productive members of our society.

Please enjoy a wonderful summer full of fun, joy, and laughter. All the best!

    Bashar W. Hanna, President


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

National Volunteer Week

Artist Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Over the past several months, our campuses have offered meaningful examples of Picasso’s words at work. Students from each campus have been out in the community lending a hand and giving their time and talents to help local organizations.

April 17 kicks off national volunteer week, providing an opportunity to recognize the work of the students, volunteers, donors, supporters, and friends of our universities whose contributions to our campuses and communities make an immeasurable difference in the lives of so many.

At Lock Haven, students recently partnered with Downtown Lock Haven to put together spring time activities for kids and assist in community clean-up efforts. Multiple athletic teams have also given their time to support local charities, schools, and churches.

Bloomsburg students recently participated in The Big Event, a CGA community service event that gives them the opportunity to help and assist businesses and residents of the Town of Bloomsburg with projects such as raking yards and cleaning up streets.

Mansfield student organizations, Greek life, and athletics programs have been giving back to their community in big ways this spring through volunteering in and around the Mansfield area.

Last week, all three campuses participated in an All-In Day of Giving. The 24-hour giving challenge is in its eighth year at Lock Haven, with Bloomsburg and Mansfield hosting inaugural events this year. I am humbled by the generosity of our donors who together gave more than $500,330 to support our students. Each gift will make a difference in the life of a student.

Giving comes in many forms. This month we’ve witnessed shining examples of what it means to give of oneself in support of others. Whether it’s time, talent, or treasure—every gift is meaningful and works powerfully in the life of our students and the people in our communities.

Thank you to our students and supporters for your continued generosity of spirit and selfless consideration of others.

    Bashar W. Hanna, President


Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Providing Healing, Promoting Hope

During the last several weeks the world has witnessed the unjustified invasion of a sovereign nation as Ukraine faces attack by Russia. Television and social media bring us images of the horrors of war that inflict both physical and emotional trauma to Ukranians of all ages.

Please keep the Ukranian people and their loved ones abroad in your thoughts. Not knowing the fate of your loved ones is agonizing, especially when they are faced with such difficult choices—fleeing their homes as refuges, or staying behind to fight for their country and freedoms.

Television icon Fred Rogers said, “in times of crisis look for the helpers,” That sentiment rings especially true today. I think of the image of strollers left at a Polish train station for Ukranian refugees and their children. It’s an image of neighbors helping neighbors—helpers in action.

Leaving your home for a foreign land is not easy. When I left my native Syria to come to the United States it was incredibly difficult, but a decision that gave my family hope for a better future. Fortunately, I had a strong support system, including my teachers who helped me bridge the language barrier as I learned to speak English at age 10. I was blessed to find the helpers.

In March we celebrate Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.”

The theme represents the countless number of women, who as medical doctors, nurses, soldiers, counselors, clerics, teachers, and mothers worldwide, have stepped forward to provide healing throughout history and certainly during the ongoing global pandemic.

We’re also seeing that in Ukraine with female doctors taking care of the wounded, or the mothers who are desperate to protect their children and keep them out of harm’s way. We’ve seen teachers in underground shelters working to keep children safe and focus their attention on stories and learning while hoping the attacks will soon come to an end. We need to be eternally grateful for the sacrifices women around the globe have made for others. In story after story, they are the helpers.

    Bashar W. Hanna, President


Monday, February 14, 2022

Our world needs more kindness

I recently tweeted a statement that really speaks to me and which I believe can guide us as we live, work, and learn together.

“Leadership does not need to be loud and kindness should never be interpreted as weakness. Lead quietly with kindness.”

Our world needs more kindness. As the late General Colin Powell wrote in his book, It Worked for Me, "You can never err by treating everyone in the building with respect, thoughtfulness, and a kind word."

Whether you find yourself in a leadership position today or aspire to lead others in the future — Let’s choose to lead with compassion, kindness and respect. It’s up to us to create and foster working environments that embody our values of inclusion, growth, and kindness.

During the month of February, our nation celebrates Black History Month. Together we must continue to champion the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to make our campuses more welcoming to our underserved populations.

To that end, our campuses, along with our sibling PASSHE schools, are conducting the System-wide Campus Climate Survey which opened Jan. 31. The results will allow our campuses and the State System to assess ourselves and support the development of strategies to promote inclusive campus and system communities.

If you are a student or employee of Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, or Mansfield please complete the survey. Your participation is important and anonymous.

It is our goal to make our university families and communities open and welcoming to all.

Frederick Douglass, one of the great Black scholars of the 19th century, penned many profound words on education. He underlined the importance of education as part of a process of realizing human potential, furthering justice, and achieving freedom: “Education …means emancipation,” he said. “It means light and liberty.”

During Black History Month, I encourage you to engage one another with kindness, respect, and understanding. Let us take this opportunity to embody our values through our actions and bring light and liberty to those around us.

    Bashar W. Hanna, President


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Challenge Yourself in 2022

The start of a new calendar year always brings me a sense of excitement, anticipation, and hope for the coming year. While I have never been someone to make resolutions, I have spent some time looking for ways to become a better version of myself as a husband, father, brother, uncle, colleague, and leader. 

Taking a step back, like an artist staring at a blank wall and reimagining who you are, is a healthy way to grow as a person. Whether that means creating good habits or committing to doing something to help others, it takes time and continuous effort to be the best you. So don't be afraid to challenge yourself in 2022. Together, we can make our community a shining example for others.

As our campuses spring back to life and we welcome students from the semester break, we move forward with enthusiasm immersed in the details of the integration of Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield. Each day walking through the doors of Carver Hall I am energized knowing our vision for the integrated university is taking shape, and the promise of an exemplary student experience remains our highest priority. The expansion of high-quality affordable educational opportunities for our students remains our steadfast commitment. 

 We're also looking forward to spring semester traditions that are the hallmark of maintaining vibrant campuses within our respective communities. And most importantly, we're changing the lives of students and their families forever. In short, we're reimagining public higher education for the coming decades!

If you have any questions about the integration process, please email neintegration@bloomu.edu or check out bloomu.edu/integration for more information.

So remember, a new year means a new blank canvas awaits to paint a new picture. Always remember, as Iva Ursano, a Canadian blogger, once wrote, 'You are the artist of your own life. Don't hand the paintbrush to anyone else.'

Go Huskies!

    Bashar W. Hanna, President