“Change is on the horizon.”
These are the exact words said by PASSHE’s chancellor Frank Brogan during his “State of the System” address regarding changes that could possibly affect some of the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System.
This change comes in the form of merging, or even closing, a few schools after a complete system review.
Chancellor Brogan has said that the reason for the review is due to “floundering enrollment numbers and revenues, specifically the state’s system’s funding derailment caused by the 2008 recession.”
In the past few years, enrollment to some of these universities has declined a significant amount. In 2010, there were 120,000 students enrolled in state schools, but by 2016, that number dwindled to only 105,000.
The purpose of PASSHE when it was first created was to have a campus in every county to give students the opportunity to live at home and commute, but now that there is the option of taking classes online, many students do not need a campus nearby.
Along with the online schooling option, many state universities are now competing with private schools that offer the newest technologies and luxuries that are not offered at state schools.
Along with the decline in enrollment, state funding is down $60 million dollars since the recession in 2008.
This past year PASSHE received $444 million dollars in state funding, which is the same amount that it was given 17 years ago, but the cost to maintain quality schools is higher than it was then, and more money is needed to give students the best learning that they can have.
This proposed review includes input from students, alumni, faculty, staff, and elected leaders. “Every bit of this system, as great as it has been over the years, will be examined,” said Brogan. “What worked 30 years ago isn’t working today, and we not only have the opportunity to make dynamic changes, we have an obligation to do so.”
There is no exact end date for this review, but the chancellor’s office hopes for it to be done by the end of the year, especially since the system hasn’t undergone a review in decades.
In an interview with PennLive, Brogan said that there’s no exact plan for changes and that he is “looking at what other state systems are doing to reorganize.”
After the review is complete, some state schools could possibly be merging with other schools, or could be closing for good, but the final decision will come down to the state legislature.
With the possibility of mergers, and closings on the horizon, many schools are left wondering if they will be one of the unlucky ones, and what they can do to make sure that it doesn’t happen to them.
Chancellor Brogan said that the review will have “no restraints, no preconceptions, and no limits,” meaning that they will look at each school the same way no matter what.
House Majority Leader Dave Reed said that he hoped the “review would not be limited to just financial matters, but would include academic and workforce development review, with the mission of getting graduates employed in their fields.”
As for here at Millersville, we stand with the others as we are reviewed, and not knowing whether we are one of the unlucky ones. In the past years, Millersville University has been growing with approximately 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students for the 2016-17 school year, and 93 percent of our graduating student find jobs within 6-10 months after graduating.
No matter what happens after the review is over, it will be in the best interest of universities and their students.
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, also known as PASSHE, consists of 14 state universities. These include: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, Edinboro, East Stroudsburg, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Shippensburg, West Chester, Slippery Rock and Millersville.