State System Advances Bold Initiative to Reshape Public Higher Education in Pennsylvania

From PASSHE
 
The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education approved two plans aimed at bolstering student success, expanding academic programming, exploring potential growth areas, and ensuring high-quality, postsecondary education remains viable in critical parts of the Commonwealth.
 
Known as integrations, the plans would restructure six universities into two combinations of three. The integrated institutions would be California, Clarion, and Edinboro universities in the western part of the state and Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities in the northeastern region. 
 
The vote by the Board is one step in an extensive consultation process outlined in Act 50 of 2020 before integrations could be finalized by the Board this summer. The vote now initiates a 60-day public comment period, including two public hearings.
 
“Today’s vote is the most significant reimagining of public higher education since the System was formed in 1982,” Board chair Cindy Shapira said. “We’re supporting a bold, innovative vision thanks to Chancellor Dan Greenstein, his leadership team, and the more than 1,000 students, faculty, and staff who came together in working groups to develop these plans.”
 
The plan calls for the creation of two fully accredited, degree-granting universities, each with three unique partner campuses.  While the integrated universities will be established with a single leadership team, a single faculty cohort, a single budget, and a single enrollment management, integration also supports each campus continuing to use its historic name and brand, its traditions and on-campus experiences. Because each campus will continue residential operations, each local community will continue to benefit from the positive economic impact of the institution.
 
Additionally, students at each of the partner institutions will have access to the full breadth of academic programs—majors, minors, credentialing, among others—that exist across the partner institutions, and student supports will be strengthened, drawing on the collective’s resources and expertise.
 
“Those who participated in the planning process did exactly what you’d expect of mission-driven professionals who are passionate about the role public higher education plays in transforming students’ lives. Rather than thinking about how to pour students into the mold we have developed over decades, they asked: ‘How do we build an institution that meets our students’ needs now and into the future?’ This is tremendously exciting stuff,” Greenstein said. “It is less about how to make students college-ready and focuses far more about how to make colleges ready for our students, and we are thankful to the students, faculty, staff, trustees, elected leaders, everyone who participated in the work thus far.”
 
These plans also outline new academic opportunities that the integrated entities will pursue to complement traditional, residential educational experiences. 
 
For schools in the northeast, that means bolstering workforce development, an effort that results from close consultation with major employers and represents a growth opportunity for the three campuses. For the western trio, the new integrated university will develop a world class, Pennsylvania-based online academic program to add to their on-campus offerings.
 
The plans layout how integrations can grow enrollments and dramatically expand student opportunities—doing more together than any one institution could do alone. They also show how the coming together of three campuses can leverage their combined scale and set each on a path toward financial sustainability all while preserving the positive economic impact they have in their host communities.
 
The State System will now facilitate a 60-day public comment period. Those who wish to read the plans can do so by clicking here, and to submit public comment, please see this website for more details​. Two virtual public hearings are scheduled for June 9 and 10 and more details will be forthcoming.