PSSHE right to streamline operations at 6 state-run universities
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education exists largely to provide a relatively-affordable option for residents of the commonwealth — and from other states and countries — to seek a quality college education without having to go into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
And for much of its life, it has. Thousands upon thousands of professionals working today not only in Pennsylvania, but around the U.S. and the world — including several who work here — are proud alumni of one of the 14 state-run universities (Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester).
Those who hold degrees from the “state schools” are many times equally well-equipped, if not moreso, for whatever professional path they may take than those who attended other schools — and often paid far more to do so.
However, often cited as one of the big drawbacks regarding the state-run universities is that unlike at private colleges, decisions about how the schools should be run often get tied up in the seemingly-endless bureaucracy in Harrisburg.
Couple that with the fact that in recent years, the state system has seen a dual crisis as the cost of things like pensions and salaries have gone up while student enrollment has been steadily declining, and you have a recipe for financial trouble.
It’s why we’re encouraged that something might be done that doesn’t involve simply increasing tuition for students who often choose to attend a state school because of the affordability.
The PSSHE Board of Directors has opted to pursue a plan to restructure six universities into two fully-accredited, degree-granting universities, each with three “partner” campuses. Combination one would be California, Clarion and Edinboro, while the second trio would be Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield.
While the integrated universities will be established with a single leadership team, a single faculty cohort, a single budget and a single enrollment management, each campus will continue to use its historic name and brand, its traditions and on-campus experiences.
And because each campus will continue to house students, each local community will still benefit from the positive economic impact of hosting a university.
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.
For the Bloomsburg-Lock Haven-Mansfield group, 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 California-Clarion-Edinboro combination, the new integrated university plans to develop a world class, Pennsylvania-based online academic program to add to their on-campus offerings.
Streamlining of operations happens in the private sector all the time and often with great success. In fact, it is usually periodically necessary to ensure a business or organization is changing with the times. We are hopeful and confident it will be successful for PSSHE as well.
Keeping affordable post-secondary educational opportunities for Pennsylvanians is necessary for the economy of the future and our commonwealth’s future success.
Anything done to ensure PSSHE is around for generations to come and will continue to provide a valuable, modern education is welcome news and something we wholeheartedly support.