HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education took a step forward in its System Redesign effort by authorizing the Chancellor to review the financial impacts of integrating operations at selected System universities.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education says 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.
“We have a unique opportunity to shape the future of public higher education in Pennsylvania, ensuring it continues to act as an engine of social mobility and economic development for all,” Chancellor Greenstein said.
A financial review is the first step towards integrating universities as outlined in Act 50 of 2020 – legislation that passed the General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in July.
Act 50 requires a detailed, transparent, and broadly consultative review, planning and implementation process, one that will be undertaken over the next two years.
The Board’s resolution directs Chancellor Greenstein to examine three potential integrations, which include:
- California and Clarion – An integration that would seek to stand up a low-cost, high-quality, fully online undergraduate degree and degree-completion program that is not currently available in Pennsylvania.
- Edinboro and Slippery Rock – An integration that 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 arrangement 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.
For the purposes of the review the Chancellor will explore the financial impacts of university integrations that operate with a unified leadership team, single faculty and staff, single academic program array, unified enrollment management strategy, unified budget, and a single reporting line to the Board through the chancellor.
“We are looking at these three combinations because they show enormous potential to sustainably serve more students, expand educational opportunity for their regions, and leverage the universities’ proximity to one other,” said Greenstein.
Greenstein noted that the board action allows the review to assess other combinations of universities and integration approaches, adding “we will let the data drive the process as we seek the most effective and reliable means of sustaining affordable higher education for all Pennsylvanians.”
“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,” said Board chair Cindy Shapira. “Exploring this approach is a key part of our effort to support students currently enrolled and those considering these institutions as places to earn a life-changing degree. We’re focused on their future and the future of the entire State System with today’s Board action.”
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