PASSHE talks possible merging, closures of multiple state universities

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 at 5:20 PM
PASSHE talks possible merging, closures of multiple state universities by Macala Leigey

After experiencing a state-wide faculty union strike in October, and its board of governors approving the new faculty union contract in December, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has now had public discussions on the possible merging or closure of select state universities.

With a growing budget deficit and enrollment rates down at select universities, PASSHE’s Chancellor, Frank Brogan, addressed his board of governors and proposed a review that could potentially lead to some form of merging or closures within the 14 state universities under PASSHE’s jurisdiction. 

“Many of our universities are feeling the twin effects of declining revenues and enrollments. As daunting as those challenges have been, there is little doubt that 2017 will bring new and perhaps even greater challenges. In fact, I believe this year will be pivotal for the State System,” said Brogan.

Brogan also elaborated on a few of the challenges PASSHE schools may be facing in the near future.

“Other states are wrestling with the same issues we are, leading to the reorganization of public university systems in many states around the country — including the merger or even closure of institutions.”

He continued: “That’s a question I can’t answer today, nor can anyone else. But it is a question we have to ask — and we have to answer — this year, not in the future, because this system and our universities are essential to Pennsylvania’s future.”

No university has been singled out for the merging or closure process as of yet. Local state system universities include California University, Clarion University, Indiana University, Slippery Rock University, and Edinboro University.

In the past six years, California University’s enrollment rate has reduced by nearly 1,900 students; Clarion University, 2,100 students; Edinboro University, 2,500 students; Indiana University, 2,300; with Slippery Rock University’s population steadily increasing.

“We cannot just tinker around the edges; we’ve got to be brave enough to explore every option as we move forward,” said Brogan.

He continued: “Higher education has always been known for big thinking. That big thinking has resulted in some of the most important accomplishments ever achieved — from curing disease to landing a man on the moon. It’s time we use that same kind of big thinking to chart our own future.”

PASSHE has not made official decisions regarding the merging or closure of any state universities. Check next week’s issue of The Spectator and for an extensive interview with Edinboro University’s President Fred H. Walker, regarding potential changes for Edinboro.

Macala Leigey can be reached at 

Tags: news, edinboro, passhe

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