Once a Mountie, Always a Mountie

A message to the Mansfield University Community from Dr. Charles Patterson

Dr. Charles Patterson and Colleen Patterson

Dear Mansfield University Colleagues and Friends:

As you may be aware by now, the State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors today selected me to serve as the Interim President of Shippensburg University. Since integration planning  began last year, I have been quite open with the campus community about university integrations and the intended reduction of senior executive positions, including campus presidents, as part of the integration model. I hope you will understand that my transition to Shippensburg is part of that process.

I am very proud of everything that our Mansfield University community has accomplished together in just two short years. Broadly speaking, we ended a 9-year enrollment decline in 2019 and have grown our undergraduate enrollment by almost 10 percent. Fall 2020 retention increased from 73 percent to 78.1 percent. We continue to diligently address financial sustainability and changes in instruction and campus life required by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, we have established a stronger culture of inclusivity in our communications and sharing of information that has allowed us to honestly and openly address campus challenges and opportunities. Underpinning these praiseworthy accomplishments are the many individual efforts of our students, faculty, and staff, which foster a supportive campus climate and the fulfilment of our institutional mission.

Colleen and I love Mansfield University, and while it is an honor to be considered for the role of interim president of Shippensburg University, our work at Mansfield must continue uninterrupted. Sustainability is critically important to our university, our communities, and most importantly our students. At last count, 151 individual Mansfield students, faculty, staff, and trustees have been directly engaged in the process of university integrations with Bloomsburg University and Lock Haven University. Our campus community is leading the change that will expand program breadth, maintain Mansfield’s essential residential character, and achieve more together for the Northeastern region than any one institution might accomplish on its own.

As I make this transition in late June, I will still support Mansfield University by continuing to serve within the State System, regardless of the outcomes of the integrations process. Our fourteen State System universities and their administrations share a common mission that extends beyond the campus footprint. Each university must operate in a sustainable manner. This means I will continue being an unapologetic advocate for the value that Mansfield University, Shippensburg University, and all other public, State System institutions provide to students in the Commonwealth and beyond.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve alongside you and to continue our efforts to advance opportunities for current and future generations of Mansfield University Mountaineers.