For the past nine years, Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt has served as Bucks’ president. During this time, the college has faced no shortage of challenges, namely reduced enrollment and a decrease in government funding.
The pandemic only exacerbated these issues. With Dr. Shanblatt’s retirement in June creeping ever closer, the college continues to face a drop in enrollment and funding.
Enrollment rates took a dip due to the pandemic, dropping 8 percent in the fall 2020 semester and 15 percent this spring, according to Shanblatt. This can likely be credited to the struggles that come with remote learning, yet another challenge introduced by the pandemic.
The budget, which has already been a point of issue due to government funding, has also been impacted by the pandemic due to this drop in enrollment.
“To my knowledge, we have never faced such a significant budget challenge,” said Shanblatt when asked about the $5.5 million deficit.
Fortunately, the administration at Bucks has been working hard to tackle these challenges without negatively impacting the students. Shanblatt was able to ease fears and confirm that there will be no downsizing or changes to the six academic departments.
These challenges, while daunting, pale in comparison to the achievements that have come through the hard work of Dr. Shanblatt and the rest of the administration and faculty at Bucks during her time here.
“Many good things were accomplished at Bucks during my tenure, but they were all team efforts, so it’s difficult to talk about them as my accomplishments,” said Shanblatt when asked about her achievements.
“Our efforts to help students succeed, including required advising, COLL 101, and retention efforts have yielded positive results. Graduation rates for first time, full time students increased 30% in the last five years. Our transfer rates continue to be very high compared to national benchmarks.”
Shanblatt has also seen the college through many renovations, such as the campus core beautification and the construction of the science center.
In her retirement, Shanblatt plans to spend time with her family and volunteer in her community as well as spend more time on her hobbies. “Especially gardening, weaving, and international travel!” she exclaimed.
Shanblatt said that out of everything at Bucks, the students were her favorite part of her time here.
“Through your education at Bucks, you have an opportunity to transform your life and that of those closest to you. Take full advantage of the learning opportunities at Bucks, both in the classroom and outside of it. Enjoy your time as a student. Even though it’s a bit challenging right now, there are ways to be engaged, attend events, and connect with other students. Keep learning throughout your life as jobs and the world changes. Bucks has prepared you well for what’s next, so go for it,” Shanblatt said in regard to the student body.
“On behalf of all the faculty and staff, our job is to make you successful, so make us Bucks Proud!”