The sudden announcement of retirement from Frank Brogan, the then-Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), came as a shock to students, universities and the public. While some may have expected it, due to the conflict that transpired regarding the contracts of the professors in 2016, it was a decision that left very little time to prepare for the upcoming school year.
Brogan officially retired this past July, leaving the state system without a replacement in training. The search continues, however.
Dr. Karen Whitney has stepped in as the Interim Chancellor while PASSHE works to find a replacement who will diligently work to serve the students and the state system alike. Dr. Whitney was the previous president for Clarion University, which she led for 7 years.
And, in her first few days of being on the job, she’s already shown that she aims to work hard during her time as the interim chancellor.
“I want to spend my first days as interim chancellor listening and learning. I want to hear what is important to our students, and let them know my priorities,” Dr. Whitney said in a press release. “Everything we do at each of our universities—and as a system—should be focused on our students and their success.”
Dr. Whitney will likely remain the interim chancellor until next year, the press release said. In this time, PASSHE is hosting a national job search to find the right fit for the position. The teacher’s union, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, embraces this time for change, according to spokeswoman Kathryn Morton.
“Leadership transitions can provide opportunities for positive changes,” Morton said. “We were surprised by the appointment [of Dr. Whitney], but we are focusing on moving forward and hope the interim chancellorship will be productive and positive. We are willing to work together — with students as our top priority.”
Students are the top priority of both PASSHE and APSCUF; the two organizations both emphasize this point in their statements to the public.
“It’s important to me to have collaborative, open and trusting relationships with students, faculty and staff across the System. As we build these connections, we will enhance our ability to advance the distinctive roles of each of our universities,” Dr. Whitney said. “Every student succeeds by having strong state universities and a strong State System. That will be among my driving priorities as I work to help ensure the System’s continued advancement and a successful transition to the next era of system leadership.”
Students likely will not notice too much of a difference between Brogan and Whitney’s chancellorship, but a lot of work is being done in the background to ensure an easy transition for the next permanent chancellor. Dr. Whitney said that she’s laser-focused on this goal.
In the meantime, Dr. Whitney will spend her time going to colleges and meeting students to determine their needs. It’s only a matter of time before she makes a stop at Millersville.