The Power of Three: EU, CalU and Clarion joining forces

Category:  News
Monday, September 14th, 2020 at 7:42 PM

Edinboro University announced Monday they’ll be joining forces with fellow PASSHE institutions Clarion University and California University in an attempt to create a partnership that could change the face of higher education in western Pennsylvania.” This comes as a sudden change from a previously discussed Edinboro integration with Slippery Rock University.  

The three schools — Edinboro, Clarion, California — collectively have over 16,000 students, according to a press release sent out from all three universities.  

Edinboro Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Angela Burrows, said the decision to forego integration with Slippery Rock was very recent and “it made more sense to instead move to a three-university option (instead of two). Edinboro and Clarion already partner on successful graduate nursing programs.”  

She also mentioned the new partnership plan is not expected to have any impact on the ongoing program review at EU, or potential faculty retrenchment. 

“The State System’s preliminary data analysis suggested that a two-university integration would not provide enough scale for what would be needed to ensure affordable higher education and to reach new markets,” said Burrows. Meanwhile, the press release states that “three-school affiliations could hold greater promise, according to System officials, while honoring the local identity and traditional face-to-face programming of each institution.” 

While mentioning face-to-face instruction, the announcement also places a heavy emphasis with online education. It reads, PASSHE’s initial plan for university integrations paired California and Clarion, two schools with a history of offering nationally recognized online programs, to stand up a low-cost, high-quality online undergraduate degree and degree-completion program.” 

In addition, Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, president of Clarion University, states that “in addition to supporting our traditional and legacy face-to-face residential programs, we’ll work collaboratively to create an online program that is truly unique.” 

Dr. Marc Sylvester, EU professor and president of the Edinboro APSCUF union chapter, said in an interview with The Spectator, Obviously Edinboro's faculty and coaches are surprised at the announcement that integration talks with Slippery Rock would not continue, but we are hopeful that we can find meaningful collaborations with California and Clarion.” Sylvester also said APSCUF hopes the strong traditions of Clarion and California align well with Edinboro’s.  

The discussions with Clarion, California and Edinboro are to begin on Friday, he noted. “We are enthusiastic to learn what synergies exist between these three western PASSHE universities,” said Sylvester. “Edinboro APSCUF, which is the faculty and coach’s union on campus, is committed to providing high quality educational experiences and lots of opportunity for personal and academic growth for our students. These goals will remain top priorities in any discussions with our potential partners.” 

As far as academic offerings between the three universities go, and how they’ll collaborate, Burrows explained there is still much to be considered. “We don’t yet have specific answers. There are many details to be worked through over the coming months, but this partnership offers tremendous potential to expand our collective offerings.” 

EU President Dr. Guiyou Huang said in the group release, “This combination will be a good fit for all three universities, given their histories of serving students from diverse economic backgrounds and offering them transformative experiences that lead them to places they may never have imagined.” 

The Spectator reached out to Provost Dr. Michael Hannan for further comment, but did not get a response by press deadline. 

Kimberly Firestine is the Executive Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at

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