Dear Campus Community,

It is hard to believe that it has been more than a year since we pulled together as a caring and compassionate community to ensure our continued success and commitment to a high-quality education in spite of the challenges presented by the global pandemic. I am grateful to each of you.  Thank you for your unwavering commitment.

We can be proud of our collective accomplishments in service to students and their futures. The last time I wrote, I shared that I will be leaving Ship in the summer. And today, as I prepare for my departure, I am so pleased to share the decision of the Board of Governors announced earlier today that ensures we will continue to successfully navigate the work of our priorities.

Interim President 

I hope you join me in welcoming Dr. Charles Patterson who comes to Shippensburg University as our interim president. Dr. Patterson comes from Mansfield University where he has served as president since his appointment in 2019, capping his two decades of leadership in higher education.

Dr. Patterson’s tenure as a president in the state system is a benefit to Shippensburg University. He is a leader in innovation that will carry our university through system redesign. A servant leader, Dr. Patterson is eager to join the team, “I am ready to hear from the campus community and partners about how I can use my experience and dedication to the role of higher education to lead Shippensburg University into a future that continues the work of transformation ensuring high-quality, equitable and inclusive student success for generations to come.”

Dr. Patterson started his career in higher education as an instructor and central administrator at Baylor University. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from Mississippi State University and his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Dr. Patterson’s track record of success demonstrates his readiness to step in and carry forward the work that we have been doing over these last four years. In his two presidential appointments, Mansfield and Georgia Southwestern State University, he has led strategic initiatives that address stabilizing and growing enrollment and implementing transformation through shared governance and broadly incorporating university and community stakeholders. His work includes initiatives to raise the level of scholarly excellence and academic success and to growing fundraising efforts.

Dr. Patterson’s varied experience in higher education includes time in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). There he developed and executed outreach and engagement efforts with higher education executives globally, and led federal programs that address financial stress among colleges and universities.

Ship’s strong progress in System Redesign 

We continue our important work in further enhancing the student experience and the strategic planning process for the next three years. As the system redesign process moves forward, we have met all milestones of our Mid-Year Sustainability Plan Progress Report and Ship is not part of the integration conversations. We continue to do the work of retaining and recruiting students to stabilize enrollment. For those of you concerned about media reports regarding the State System, there is absolutely no concern at this time. And the strength and fortitude you have demonstrated place Ship in a strong financial position. We must keep our focus on the future and long-term sustainability of Shippensburg University.

Celebrating Ship 

As we busily wind down the end of the spring semester, we have much to celebrate. We officially celebrate the opening of our renovated Steam Plant, our Downtown Centers for Excellence, the Raider Athletics Academic Center, and, this summer, Stewart Hall.

Our final Raider Rest Day on April 23 will be a welcome break from the many assignments, projects and deadlines. Next week, we also enjoy StewardSHIP week, the Ship tradition of enthusiastically celebrating our Earth. There are many opportunities to contribute and learn more about doing our part to protect our environment. It all begins with simple and daily actions. Finally, on April 29, we celebrate the exceptional work of those who make life on campus great at the Student Life Awards celebration.

I am grateful to have these final moments with you to celebrate Ship traditions and all of our many collective accomplishments. Four years ago, during the lead up to my inauguration, the Ship community marked the hope and celebration of my appointment by engaging in 17 days of kindness. In preparation for my departure, I am calling on all of us to again make our world a better place by engaging in 17 days of kindness in May. Together we will take our Raider Pride to the heights of kindness to be leaders in our actions and deeds with friends, family, colleagues, and even acquaintances and to collectively make positive contributions to our community.

Returning Fall 2021 

Our Mighty Ship plans for a triumphant in person return in the Fall. By collectively working together and making plans for our return, we may not be certain what the impact the pandemic will have on how we operate, but we can be certain of our commitment to following the guidelines and recommendations as we anticipate a return to life more reminiscent of pre-pandemic times.

Circumstances may change, but the Raider Way is unwavering. In these final days of spring 2021, let’s work hard and play hard and keep the Raider spirit alive.  Our Ship is indeed mighty.


Laurie A. Carter