From left: President Bashar Hanna’s sisters, parents, and Bashar and Deanna Hanna with children Lauren and Christian.
Talk with Bashar Hanna for several minutes, and you’ll hear the word “family,” maybe more than once. The sacrifices his parents and sisters made so he could pursue higher education have had a pervasive influence on his leadership style.
At the April announcement naming him Bloomsburg’s next president, Hanna’s first words to the campus community were to thank his family, particularly his wife, Deanna. “For the last 18 years, she’s been both mother and father to our two children (Christian and Lauren) most of the time because of my professional commitments.”
“My six sisters, each in their own way, sacrificed and supported me, emotionally, personally, professionally and financially to help me take advantage of opportunities and to help pay for education along the way.”
His love for neurobiology was inspired by the illness of his youngest sister. “As an undergraduate student majoring in biology, my youngest sister was diagnosed with a highly aggressive malignant tumor — an olfactory neuroblastoma — that had infected her nasal passages and her optic nerve.”
“She fought cancer for nearly 10 years. Cancer took her right eye, but she’s alive today and is cancer-free.”
Ultimately, the courage and conviction of his parents have left the deepest mark on Hanna. “Without the absolute insistence by my mother and my late father that the way to make a difference is through education, I wouldn’t be the owner of a college degree,” says Hanna. Though he adds with a bit of wry humor, “believe me, there were times when that insistence was not easy to accept — especially when you’re a teenager wanting to do things other than study.” •