Friday, December 15, 2017

Prepared to Shine

This weekend, we’ll celebrate the outstanding achievements of more than 7,000 students who are graduating from one of our 14 universities—taking the next step in their lifelong journey of learning and discovery. Some might say they are NOW ready for the “real world,” but that’s not really a precise statement. In fact, they’ve already been in the “real world” while at our universities. Whether working as an intern, handling conflict as an RA, providing leadership in a student organization, applying feedback from a professor, managing time as a student-athlete, or simply prioritizing on-campus and off-campus obligations—it was as “real” as it gets.

They are prepared to not only attain careers in the Commonwealth, nationally, and internationally, they are prepared to shine in these areas because of their hard work and because of the opportunities they had at a State System university. What makes this even more impactful for all of us who live in Pennsylvania is that nearly 80 percent of our graduates will remain here to contribute to our economy and meet the needs of the Commonwealth.

To our graduates, we say congratulations on a job well done. To those returning next semester to continue this journey, we encourage you to enjoy the break, enjoy the holidays, and enjoy some down-time. We’ll all be here when you get back in January—ready to do whatever we can to help you succeed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Power of 14

Our 14 universities are remarkably diverse places at which to learn and work. While they have much in common, it’s their differences that make each of them—and the entire State System—extraordinary. Leveraging the unique strengths of our universities is what will help advance every student’s success for years to come.

Recently, I had the privilege of being part of our 10th Annual Summit on Inclusive Excellence and International Education at West Chester University. And—like our 14 universities—the diversity among our students, faculty, and staff is what makes our campus communities so vibrant. Because we are Pennsylvania’s public universities, we must continue to recruit and graduate students who have not had opportunities in the past to start and finish college. We are determined—now more then ever—to enroll more students of color; older students; students with some college/no degree; students from a variety of family income levels; and students from across the entire state.

We are redesigning ourselves to be a dynamic System of constituent institutions focused on the needs of every student and their surrounding regions. We are creating a climate of trust, transparency, and collaboration, across every level of the System.

The Summit is just one example of the collective power of our 14 universities and our 100,000 students when we work together. I challenge us all to look for new ways to help each and every student succeed.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

“Giving back” is more than a slogan

As a former university president, I know first-hand how much you—the students, faculty, and staff at our 14 universities—do to make your local communities a better place. Whether it’s cleaning up a neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon, raising money to support a local program, or utilizing student and faculty expertise to solve a problem, our universities are deeply woven into the community.

We don’t do this because we have to; we do it because we want to. We want to give back to the communities we call home—the communities that make it possible for our universities to provide enriching academic opportunities and ensure student success.

Giving back is important to me personally. It’s both rewarding and inspiring. As citizens, I believe we should offer our time, talents, or resources to help impact the lives of others. Our universities continue to answer the call by creating opportunities for you to give back.

To spotlight these selfless acts, the State System is launching the #givebackPA campaign to bring awareness to the impact our universities have on their local communities, their regions, and the entire Commonwealth. Follow #givebackPA on social media (or here) from now until the end of 2017 to see real-life examples of this generosity.

I am so proud to be part of the State System, and look forward to reading the stories of how you are making a difference every day.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

“Day One”

This is my first blog as Interim Chancellor of the State System, and I’m very excited to not only have this new opportunity to serve, but to do it at such an important time for our universities. In the coming weeks and months, I hope we will get to know each other a little more as I visit the 14 universities and have conversations with our students, faculty, staff, and others.

I’ll spend my first days as head of this system listening and learning—to hear about what’s important to our students. Everything we do at each of our universities—and as a system—should be focused on our students and their success. So, my first days on the job will be spent on university campuses, meeting with students, faculty, staff, and campus leaders. I’m starting at Slippery Rock and IUP, but these are just the first of many visits I plan to make to our state universities.

Real, genuine dialogue is important if we are to have collaborative, open, and trusting relationships across the System. As we build these connections, we will enhance our ability to advance the distinctive roles of each of our universities. All of this will help us shape the future of the State System to ensure our universities are able to continue providing high-quality, affordable higher education for decades to come.

But talking is only part of the equation. We need action too.

I am pretty much a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. I listen well and will always tell you where I stand. From day one, I can guarantee you that I will work very hard to advance every one of our 14 universities. I can also guarantee you that everyone who wants to work with me will be very involved in advancing our system of universities.

Now is the time to take bold steps toward increasing educational opportunities for students, modernizing how we do business, and ensuring a successful transition to the next chancellor. That’s my focus.

As we get to know each other, you’ll find that I’m an enthusiastically positive person.

We’re all in this together. So, let's get started.