The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board of governors approved a number of changes today impacting Millersville and Shippensburg universities, and in his first State of the System address Wednesday, Chancellor Frank Brogan signaled more to come.
Brogan said that as the system and individual universities work to ensure their programs remain relevant and the available resources are focused on what students want and the state needs, PASSHE “will conduct a region-by-region gap analysis to determine where shortages of educated workers exist and how our universities can help address those shortages with new or expanded programs.”
The universities also will look to expand online learning opportunities to better serve current students and to open up new opportunities for others, the chancellor said.
“There are thousands of individuals in the commonwealth who started a degree program at one of our PASSHE schools, but left before completing it — for financial, academic or any number of personal reasons,” Brogan said. “I firmly believe we can meet these students where they are and identify online opportunities that will enable them to complete a degree or certificate and take one more step up the career ladder.”
Locally significant board actions were as follows:
• PASSHE added more pilots to a flexible tuition trial that was initially approved in January with six programs. Millersville is among the additions, with plans to reduce tuition by 10 percent to students who take classes at the PASSHE Center City facility in Philadelphia and establish a program-specific instructional fee for high-cost, high-demand undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. The proposals also must be approved by the individual university councils of trustees before they can be implemented.
• PASSHE changed its policy on the university president selection process “to ensure greater input from the universities during the search,” according to a news release. It said Shippensburg, Kutztown and California will be starting presidential searches soon. By law, the PASSHE board is responsible for the actual hiring of presidents, but the universities have a major role in the process, including appointing the search committee, when searches occur. Under the revisions, the chairmen of both the search committee and the university’s council of trustees will be included in the deliberations by the PASSHE board as it considers the final candidates proposed by the university. Other changes ensure that acting or interim presidents can declare their interest in being candidates for permanent positions, and reduce from three to two the number of continuing candidates the council recommends to the board for final consideration.
• Finally, PASSHE said it revised a separate policy “to allow for the approval of new academic minors and certificates to occur at the university level to assure agility and flexibility” and “rescinded or revised several other policies whose requirements already are covered in other policies or statutes and were considered unnecessarily burdensome to the universities.”
“The state system is evolving and the board of governors is leading the way to strike a better balance between system coordination and greater local decision making,” Brogan said. “These important actions today empower local university leaders to guide their institutions while helping to shape the future of the whole system.”