Will the Future of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education See Changes?

Will the Future of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education See Changes?

Over the years, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has experienced some trouble. After a falling student enrollment, a decline in state funding, and increased competition, it has been difficult to maintain the system’s 14 public four-year universities. After outlining these challenges during a virtual board meeting, the system’s chancellor, Daniel Greenstein, recommended a different approach to the system. 

Chancellor Greenstein recommended to the Board of Governors that PASSHE should explore the option of combining the operations of some of the state’s universities. The press release states, “While honoring institutional identity, university integration may enable the System to ensure that all of its 14 institutions can sustainably provide their students and their communities with affordable, quality higher education for years to come.” 

A financial review of integration options was approved by the board and will take place this summer. This will examine three potential integrations, including the following:

  • California and Clairon: This integration would seek to stand up a low-cost, high-quality, online undergraduate degree and degree-completion program that is not currently available in Pennsylvania.
  • Edinboro and Slippery Rock: This integration would strengthen and broaden available academic opportunities by aligning two educational programs into one, driving down costs and coordinating enrollment strategies.
  • Lock Haven and Mansfield: This integration could develop non-degree and stackable credentials that meet workforce needs in selected high demand occupations and concentrating on adult students, all in partnership with regional employers. 

During this review, the Chancellor will explore the financial impacts of these integrations that operate with the following:

  • A unified leadership team
  • A single faculty and staff
  • A single academic program array
  • A unified enrollment management strategy
  • A unified budget
  • A single reporting line to the Board through the chancellor

Speaking on the review, Board chair Cindy Shapira said, “We are optimistic about what this approach will mean for our three foundational goals of System Redesign – student success, leveraging our scale to achieve cost efficiencies, and restructuring our governance.”

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