Senator Baker Addresses East Stroudsburg University Students and Faculty at 2008-2009 Legislative Fellow Luncheon

It is a distinct honor to be the 10th Legislative Fellow for East Stroudsburg University. I am pleased to be joined today by past legislative fellows Representative Mario Scavello, Representative John Siptroth, and former Representative Joe Battisto. There is no doubt I have big shoes to fill.

I look forward to the coming year and the opportunity to spend time on campus with students, faculty and administrators. It looks to be a rewarding experience all around.

Last night as my 16 year old son and I were filling out our brackets for the upcoming NCAA tournament – it reminded me of how much I look forward to March Madness. We love college basketball. In our household it is two against one – my son and I are Duke fans and my husband bleeds Carolina blue. It certainly makes for interesting dinner conversation in March!

Despite the delirium and distraction of The Dance and the road to the Final Four, higher education is actually more about academics than athletics.

While we enjoy the fun of watching the games and hoping for a good upset and another national championship for Duke – the reality is, as the commercial rightly claims, “most students will be going pro in something other than sports.”

That is what you do so well here at East Stroudsburg – you prepare students for their future. You help them become the real “pros” so they ready to tackle the challenges of a career and life as a productive member of the community. By being committed to good citizenship, freedom of expression and accountability, the campus culture reinforces important values.

Being at Shippensburg when the State System legislation was approved in the early 80’s, we shared in the excitement as our state colleges were being elevated to university status. My class was one of the first to receive a diploma from SU.

Over the years, the system schools have experienced the growth and the maturation that resulted in modern and competitive universities – each with their own unique focus. While maybe not Cinderella-grade, it is a sterling transformation nonetheless.

We all recognize that teamwork is a key ingredient in success in sports; true in academics too. Putting together a system that increased the strength in numbers without erasing the individuality of the member schools has been a notable accomplishment.

The physical look of many of the campuses has changed dramatically, and some still have extreme makeovers on the drawing board, but the affordability and the quality of the programs are constants.

East Stroudsburg is no exception. Touring the campus last year with Dr. Dillman and Richard Staneski gave me a chance to see first-hand the tremendous advances – cyber crime and forensics, the business accelerator, student-owned companies, the Wired initiative, Wall Street West and the construction of the Science and Technology Center – just to name a few.

State system schools are documented as important economic contributors in their respective communities – it is the value-add for the regions each university serves. We know this local involvement comes by way of practical partnerships that have been developed by East Stroudsburg through this community. These contributions to our region are well-documented and significant.

When various rating entities name best value schools, state system universities, including ESU, are invariably on the list for good reason.

East Stroudsburg’s attractiveness to families is obvious – students get a good education, connect with solid job prospects, without incurring a crushing debt load.

As a trustee at Shippensburg, I knew how much we valued the important relationships between students, faculty, administrators and alumni. I appreciate your efforts to connect community leaders to the campus as well.

My first career opportunity in state government was the result of a campus connection that I made at Shippensburg. At a career fair some 25 years ago, I met the chief of staff to the PA Senate Majority leader. That individual, David Atkinson, is still a trusted advisor, but now on occasion he gets to work for me.

I look forward to being part of the ESU family and giving back to this campus.

Contact: Brian Grove
(570) 675-3931

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