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Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is hosting public hearings in June to review the proposed integration of six universities into two institutions, doubling the number of opportunities the public has to directly voice their feedback.
The virtual hearings are part of a transparent, consultative process outlined in state law that has guided the System toward its goal of expanding student opportunities through integrations. The proposed plans would create two combinations of three co-equal campuses: California-Clarion-Edinboro universities in the western region and Bloomsburg-Lock Haven-Mansfield in the northeast.
“Feedback from the public is an integral part of our efforts to creatively reimagine the structure of public higher education in a way that expands student opportunities, supports their success, and sets these campuses for sustainability deeper into the 21st century,” Board chair Cindy Shapira said. “The hearings are not only part of the process outlined in state law, they are also the right thing to do because these efforts are in support of public higher education in the Commonwealth.”
The hearing schedule will be:
• June 9, 8-9:30 a.m. (western plan)
• June 9, 4:30-6 p.m. (western plan)
• June 10, 8-4:30 a.m. (northeastern plan)
• June 10, 4:30-6 p.m. (northeastern plan)
Each hearing will include brief presentations by system leaders as well as opportunity for the public to voice their feedback on the proposed integrations. The public can view the hearings, participate, or submit comments here.
“By hosting morning and late-afternoon hearings, the public will have greater opportunity and choice for when they would like to participate,” Chancellor Dan Greenstein said. “We made a commitment when this journey began almost a year ago to be consultative and transparent because we are doing nothing less than reimagining how public higher education is delivered in Pennsylvania. This is historic. This can profoundly support students by giving them access to academic programming and other activities across three campuses, more than a single campus can offer. And if successful it will mean serving these regional economies deeper into the 21st century by maintaining and expanding quality, affordable higher education.”
The process involves organizing public comments submitted through email and other means by subject matter and their potential as actionable items. The comments are reviewed and evaluated daily by subject matter experts at the System.
“We’re committed to documenting and showing any improvements to the integrations plans based on public comment before final plans are presented to the Board for their consideration,” Greenstein said. “Transparency is key to the success of integrations. So too is the involvement of stakeholders from the grassroots all the way to university and System leadership. We are the public’s higher education system, and as such, we’re committed to continuing to be consultative and transparent to stakeholders across the Commonwealth.”
Integrations are possible through Act 50 of 2020, legislation passed by near-unanimous vote in the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Tom Wolf. It proposes at both California-Clarion-Edinboro and Bloomsburg-Lock Haven-Mansfield single leadership teams, faculty cohorts, enrollment management, and budgets while opening academic program at the co-equal campuses to all students. It also places priority on maintaining unique identities and experiences at the six campuses and, while maintaining traditional residential education experiences, expanding into potential growth areas – non-degree credential and non-credential upskilling programs in the northeast and affordable, Pennsylvania-based fully online programming in the west.