Our Mission

Our Story

The McDowell Institute was established in 2012 at Bloomsburg University through the generosity of Susan W. McDowell to help aspiring and practicing educational professionals to develop strong ethical standards and skills to address non-academic barriers to learning, while emphasizing promotion and prevention activities to support healthy development and learning for all children. The Institute was founded as a direct result of Mrs. McDowell’s $2 million initial gift—the largest in the Bloomsburg University Foundation’s history at that time. Mrs. McDowell has a long history of personal commitment to helping others to make positive changes in their lives. This is particularly evident through her clarion focus on some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations including those with complex life circumstances. While her commitment is laudable, what is truly deserving of recognition is Mrs. McDowell’s movement to action along these same lines. Over the years, Mrs. McDowell has invested her time, energy and resources in endeavors and initiatives to serve the common good. A particular passion of Susan is the social and emotional wellbeing of young children and adolescents.

The initial and subsequent financial gifts provided by Susan W. McDowell have been braided together with additional financial resources to support outreach endeavors of the Institute. These resources include, but are not limited to, additional philanthropic dollars and donations in tandem with state and federal grant awards and resources from Bloomsburg University. This braiding of resources has served the Institute well since inception in 2012 and has paved the way for collaborative endeavors on campus and at state and national levels.

Susan McDowell

Mission and Impact

The McDowell Institute is dedicated to supporting the facilitation of social, emotional, and behavioral wellness of children, youth, and young adults across school and community settings. This mission is accomplished through training, technical assistance, and information dissemination.

The Institute’s initial focus was to incorporate instruction in Positive Behavior Support into Bloomsburg University’s educator preparation curriculum. This has been accomplished by situating an array of value-added learning experiences for all education majors starting at the onset of their enrollment (e.g., freshman year) up through program completion (e.g., graduation following successful completion of student teaching). Since inception in 2012, more than one thousand undergraduate and graduate pre-service educators plus BU faculty and staff have participated in numerous and distinct professional development events on campus associated with facilitating social, emotional, and behavioral wellness in PK-12 students.

Over the past two years, the McDowell Institute has further expanded its outreach and impact with PK-12 students through partnership initiatives beyond campus. The Institute continues to be highly visible as a resource to local schools through regional partnerships (e.g., Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way) and at the state level through collaboration with state level partners including the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), Office for Safe Schools and the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS).

The McDowell Institute is currently operating more than forty interrelated initiatives in play to facilitate social, emotional, and behavioral wellness of children, youth, and young adults across school and community settings.

McDowell Team


Our Team

Executive Director
  Tim Knoster | 570-389-4081

Director, School Based Behavior Health
  Danielle Empson | 570-389-5221

Administrative Assistant
  Charlotte Kemper | 570-389-5124


McDowell Institute
214 Navy Hall

Tim Knoster

Tim Knoster

Danielle Empson

Danielle Empson