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Senators to propose bill giving PASSHE universities more options

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Two Pennsylvania state senators say they will announce legislation Tuesday “that would authorize institutions in the PA State System of Higher Education to become more independent.”

Sens. Tommy Tomlinson (R-6) and Andy Dinniman (D-19) plan to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. March 11 in the State Capitol Media Center in Harrisburg. It will be streamed live at www.pasenategop.com

The legislation would allow any university in the state system of a certain size and financial capability to elect to become a state-related institution. PASSHE has 14 universities, including Millersville in Lancaster County and Shippensburg in Cumberland County.

A PASSHE spokesman said the system was somewhat limited in its ability to respond until it sees the actual legislation, but that Chancellor Frank Brogan's general comments on the matter at this time are as follows:

"In any discussions related to the future of PASSHE and our universities, I would hope that the students' interests would be paramount. And those interests center on two things: quality and cost. We are committed to ensuring all of our students continue to receive the highest quality education at the most affordable cost. That is our mission, and our promise to students and their families.

"The State System is not an office in Harrisburg; rather, it is 14 universities that are shaping the future of the Commonwealth. The Board of Governors is committed to enhancing the educational experience students receive at all 14 universities. That includes providing our universities the tools they need to adapt to the changing demands of their students and their regions. For example, the Board in January approved a number of new degree programs and flexible tuition plans — developed by the campuses themselves — to help address local needs. The Board is also exploring how it can achieve a better balance between system coordination and more local decision-making.

"We look forward to continuing those efforts as the State System evolves and welcome the opportunity to work with the General Assembly on our students' behalf."

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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