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PASSHE speaks out on public universities and the stimulus package

John Cavanaugh, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or PASSHE, made a stop at Millersville before spring break.

His appearance was in light of the recent economic stimulus package and how it will affect the students of the University.

The event was held in the Bolger Conference Room and was by RSVP only. Cavanaugh did two sessions, one for faculty, and one for students.

The student seminar had low attendance only filling half of the room.

Nonetheless, Cavanaugh was thankful for those few students who were interested in the financial status of their school.

The Chancellor spoke about the economic situation and how the money will be distributed, what kind of stake Millersville University will receive, and how that will affect the school’s students.

Cavanaugh estimated that 81.5 percent of the money for education would go to kindergarten through high school and the remaining 18.5 percent would be divided among the 14 state schools. The money for state schools will be in the form of grants and loans.

A $1.9 billion burst to financial aid to help some 1.4 million students go to school, and a $100 addition to Pell Grants, which will help some 7 million families with college.

Sophomore John Loomis attended the event and felt that the government is taking steps in the right direction.

“They [government] are taking their time appropriating funds, which is a good thing, as not every school needs as much as the next. Also, the large portion of government funding for education is going towards the first two levels of education, I think around 80 percent, this is also a good move because it is our (U.S.’s) primary and secondary schools that are not excelling. Test scores show this. The Obama administration says it sees investment in education as investment in the future, I just hope they come through on their promises,” said Cavanaugh.

Many students shared Cavanaugh’s sentiment, showing a bit of hesitation to approve of any spending unless it is sure to be beneficial.

The Chancellor not only touched on the financial issues but also on ways PASSHE could grow and be known internationally. Cavanaugh aspires to “go beyond the confines of the campus and enrich the experience”. He spoke of “blended classes”, in which the Internet is used to connect two classes in different countries to share the learning experience.

The Chancellor closed the seminar with a question and answer session. Cavanaugh never showed uncertainty and answered the questions with almost rehearsed fluency.  Many questions were variations on, “How will the stimulus help me”? One student asked for Cavanaugh’s opinion on Bill Ayer’s visit to Millersville. The Chancellor showed no opinion either way and treaded lightly to avoid controversy.

“He’s a very skilled speaker, but he danced around some issues,” said senior Erik Golden.