Partnership could benefit Bloom, Lock Haven, Mansfield universities

January 29, 2020

OP-ED

Partnership could benefit Bloom, Lock Haven, Mansfield universities

 

As Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections, I have seen first-hand how education can change the lives of individuals and impact their families for generations. It can take a person from a life behind bars to a life where he or she can be a successful, productive member of society. A college degree can and does make a positive difference in the life of the graduates and their families.

Bloomsburg University has been positively impacting Pennsylvanians for more than 180 years. The caring, devoted faculty have educated and guided more than 75,000 Huskies who have contributed much to our communities, the commonwealth, and society. For me, BU was a launching pad for my career, helped along by great mentors like Eileen Astor-Stetson and Marion Mason. These caring faculty members did not let me falter, and their assistance helped me become a proud BU graduate and ultimately find my purpose in life. I like to say I arrived at BU as a child and left as a grown-up.

As you may know, planning has been underway for several months for a new partnership between Bloomsburg University, Lock Haven University, and Mansfield University. These three institutions have rich histories of serving both their local area and the greater commonwealth. Change always brings a certain level of uncertainty. But when bold moves — such as this proposed integration between three leading schools in northeast Pennsylvania — are rooted in solid facts and data, change is easier to accept. We have a unique opportunity to collaborate, grow and provide more access and opportunities for our students, and at the same time celebrate the uniqueness and traditions of each campus experience.

The potential integration of the three universities will have long-term positive outcomes for everyone in Pennsylvania. It will help the universities strengthen and expand partnerships with the region’s employers and fulfill northeast Pennsylvania’s workforce needs. Faculty will have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers for the benefit of students across three campuses. Finally, the students will have access to this wider array of academic programs, a larger pool of faculty, and an affordable education with expansive opportunities for personal development and professional success.

What gives me great confidence about this complex effort is that it is being led by BU President Bashar Hanna and supported by so many faculty and staff across all three institutions. Combining Dr. Hanna’s visionary leadership along with the commitment and support of faculty and staff, I have no doubt that students across the Commonwealth who are seeking a high-quality, affordable education will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this potential integration. Just as Professors Astor-Stetson and Mason did for me, the faculty are approaching this current challenge with the same positive outlook and growth mindset.

Information about integration can be found on Bloomsburg University’s website: https://bloomu.edu/integration. Here, one can view the timeline and frequently asked questions, and provide feedback. Just this month, Dr. Daniel Greenstein, Chancellor of the State System, and the three university presidents have held virtual town halls with student leaders, community leaders, and elected officials from each of the three institutions. And each president continues to engage with their respective campus communities. Driven by the data and mindful of the importance of engagement, these leaders are eager to share updates and help explain how the process is going for the benefit of all stakeholders.

As a proud Husky and member of BU’s Council of Trustees, I encourage neighbors and friends of the University to become involved in the process. Please share your thoughts and ideas. Change is hard, but change is necessary. This change has every potential to strengthen and transform these three institutions so that they can thrive for the collective benefit of their respective students, communities, and northeast Pennsylvania for generations to come. Go Huskies!

 

John Wetzel

Secretary of Corrections, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 
Harrisburg