Op-Ed: Happy 164th Birthday to Us – and many more

By Steve McCloskey ’91

Steve McCloskey at the first Light Up Mansfield Again (LUMA) event in 2013.

You only have one chance to celebrate your 164th birthday. It’s even rarer to celebrate that 164th birthday with your best friend and birth twin.

Over a five-week span in 1857, Mansfield University – then known as Mansfield Classical Seminary – and the Borough of Mansfield took their first baby steps together. We have been walking stride-by-stride ever since.

The Mansfield Classical Seminary opened its doors to students on January 7, 1857. Thirty-seven days later, on February 13th, Mansfield was chartered as a Borough. The establishing documents of both institutions contains the same signatures. From the beginning of our existence we have been together.

Over the course of our history, we have celebrated success as well as faced adversary together. No matter how difficult the task, we have always found a way, together, to prevail and become better. Perhaps nothing illustrates this commitment more clearly than a devastating fire that occurred three months after Mansfield Classical Seminary first opened its doors in 1857. In April of that year, a fire broke out in the recently constructed building that housed the school, burning the structure to the ground. The citizens of Mansfield, who had already given all they had to build the original building, decided, with little to no money available, to rebuild again using their own hands.

2021 brings new challenges, and more importantly, new opportunities to both the University and the Borough. Mansfield University is entering a new phase in its history with PASSHE’s planned partnership with fellow institutions Bloomsburg and Lock Haven. The integration brings with it the expectation of expanding educational offerings on a regional concept while maintaining the physical footprint of our campus.   The Borough is reviewing a PennDOT proposal to rebuild the streets and infrastructure of our downtown business district starting in 2024. The outcome of both those projects will impact our community for the next 100 years.

Change in anything brings a certain degree of uncertainty, but it also offers the opportunity for improvement and more importantly the promise for a better future. The Mansfield community has always believed in opportunity.

Every member of the Mansfield Borough Council has attended or worked at Mansfield University. We are committed as a community to supporting this great institution that has produced our leaders and educated area children for 164 years. In numerous meetings, we have been supported in our commitment of enhancing the University and Borough by our area representatives at the county, state and federal levels.

We are confident today’s opportunities will ensure a more secure future for our children and their children’s children. Our best days are ahead of us, not behind us.

Here’s to another 164 years of being together.

Go Mounties!

Steve McCloskey is a 1991 Mansfield University graduate, retired MU sports information director, and current Mansfield Borough Council member.