The end of an era

Rachel Wright, News Editor

     David L. Soltz became Bloomsburg’s 18th president in January of 2008. In his time as BU’s president, more than $240 million in construction and renovations have taken place, many programs have been started and revamped and fundraising has been through the roof. However, Bloomsburg is quickly approaching the end of an era as Soltz announced his retirement earlier in this academic school year. As students and faculty look forward into the future of this campus and a new president, it’s just as important to look back at the man behind our beloved university.

     Soltz comes from the West Coast, specifically Central Washington University where he was Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs before coming to PA. He was Dean of Natural and Social Sciences at California State University at Los Angeles and a chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at California State University, Long Beach. It’s safe to say Soltz is a man of science. He earned his Bachelors in Zoology from the University of California, Berkley and his Doctorate in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles with research focusing on environmental and population biology of fish.

     It’s no surprise that with all of this science background, retirement will bring a lot of travel to scientifically significant areas with his wife, who also has a science background. “There will be a lot of international travel: Australia, New Zealand, The Galapagos. These are a pilgrimage of sorts for biologists,” said Soltz.

     During his eight years Soltz has started and seen many programs flourish. “We are academically strong,” he said. Soltz believes some of his biggest success happened in the form of academic programs and initiatives programs like Professional U. “It helps get all of you students career oriented and give you opportunities,” he said. “It helps students get internships and research.”


BU’s current president, David Soltz is on his way out to enjoy life as a retired man. He plans to move back West to Washington State on a 50-acre horse farm to enjoy time with his children and grandchildren.


     Another successful endeavor in Soltz’s eyes is how the study abroad program has grown and the development of MyCore, which was designed to enhance the learning opportunities for students and prepare them for success in a global environment. “You get to customize it, get credit for courses in our major,” he said.

     The most recent and biggest project has been the It’s Personal campaign, which has surpassed the initial goal with 61 million dollars. “All of that money goes back to the students. Half of it is student scholarship money,” he said.

     Before David Soltz was former BU President, Jessica Kozloff, whose legacy is that she beautified the campus, was the one behind the transition of the central parking lot to a quad. “We made it prettier,” said Soltz with a big laugh. “Unfortunately, she never got to see that through, that was finished when I came in.” As far as his legacy Soltz believes what people remember about him is how he “enhanced the academics out of the classroom,” according to him.

     When he came into the position, Soltz thought to himself, “What a big opportunity and obligation.” I was Provost and Vice President before but I was never responsible for the whole thing. I was very excited.” When he entered the position in 2008 is when the recession hit. He said, “We tried to keep the education as affordable as possible.” His initial hopes for BU were “To take a good university and make it better, I think we accomplished that,” said Soltz. His greatest fear was not being able to do all he wanted to do financially.


     In the last eight years a lot has been accomplished but what is life like when Soltz is not in the office? “Well, I’m here a lot,” he said with a laugh. “I read novels, a lot of leadership novels. We have a couple horses.” Soltz is very fond of his and his wife’s four horses which they board at a farm in Buckhorn. The passion for horses is so strong that retirement plans include moving to a 50-acre horse ranch in Washington State with his wife and their two dogs.


     With his presidency coming to an end, Soltz can properly look back and reflect. “I love the students, the ceremonial events and being a part of achievements,” he said of his fondest memories. “I like welcoming new students. I’ve spent my whole life on a campus and I enjoy interacting with smart people and working with excited people.” Soltz said he will miss celebrating accomplishments and his great time in the office. “I won’t miss all the pressure and having to live on such a tight schedule,” he said.



     When thinking about what he would do differently, he said, “I think I would have put more emphasis on international students having opportunities to expand their world view.” In addition to international students he also said he wishes he could have improved communication. “Communication is always an issue on any campus, it didn’t always flow the way it should have,” said Soltz.


     The process of finding the next president has been well under way for a couple months now. Soltz hopes his predecessor is smart and has high level experience and interacts well with faculty. “It would be helpful to have experience with higher education systems,” he said. “It’s not essential but it would be good if they had experience with a faculty union. It influences the way you operate.”


     As he is on his way out, Soltz says it’s an “exciting” time. “I started 43 years ago, I’ve had a great career but I’ve been feeling the pressure. My wife says she will finally get her husband back”. He looks forward to traveling and spending time with his grandkids. While he’s ready to retire, Soltz says he will probably be doing some higher education consulting.