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New State System chancellor visits Cal U

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Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 12:56 a.m.
 

California University of Pennsylvania Interim President Geraldine Jones received a glowing endorsement Wednesday from the new State System of Higher Education chancellor.

But university spokeswoman Christine Kindl called it “a false assumption” to presume the interim title will soon be removed.

Speaking with the media following a 45-minute talk for faculty and students at the Steele Hall, Chancellor Frank T. Brogan said there is no timeline for choosing a permanent Cal U president.

Jones was named acting president May 16. The State System board of governors named her interim president in March.

“The current president has great historic knowledge of this university,” Brogan said of Jones. “She has a great vision for this university.”

Asked if the board viewed Jones' performance as “an audition” for removing the interim tag, Brogan said, “I think if you ask her, she will tell you she feels like that audition ended a long time ago.”

“She is to be commended,” Brogan said. “She's a tremendous leader. Her love of Cal U is obvious.”

Kindl declined a request for comment from Jones on whether the interim president expects a status change soon.

“For now, things are status quo,” Kindl said. “When the board of governors decides to move on the position, that will be at their discretion.”

Brogan is visiting all 14 State System universities.

The former chancellor of the Florida State System of Higher Education said the 14 universities benefit from a balance of maintaining their independence and being an integral part of the state system.

“We have to align our commonality and align what makes us unique,” he said.

Florida's 12 universities have 340,000 students as compared to 115,000 at the Pennsylvania State System universities.

Ninety percent of the Pennsylvania university students are homegrown and 80 percent of graduates remain in the state to work.

Brogan said the challenge will be to look into the future – predicting where the state economy will be in the next 50 years so that the curriculum at the 14 universities meets that challenge.

As the State System reviews curriculum, it must match programs to market needs.

Brogan said Cal U's STEM education approach – focusing on the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – and its knowledge-based education, emphasizing the full gambit of curriculum, is producing well rounded graduates.

He said Cal U has been able to avoid retrenchment – the act of reducing expenditures to enhance financial stability.

“It think that's because this university is making the difficult decisions along the way, trying to make adjustments along the way, and here's the word that is significant to me – relevance,” Brogan said.

“In the business world, if you do not keep up, you close. Government never closes. The question is, do you become less relevant? Relevance is the key to everything we do.”

Brogan called on those who attended the event to begin open dialogue about the issues he discussed.

“Everyone is going to be a part of this,” Brogan said. “We don't have a choice. Failure is not an option.”

Afterward, Brogan said the board of governors could look at such ideas as a constant tuition rate for undergraduate students throughout their four years of study. Tuition based on the region of the university or the type of degree being pursued could alter the tuition and fees landscape, he said.

The state system needs to acquire money to begin programs, not shift dollars from unsuccessful programs that are phased out. By the time poorly-attended programs are phased out, money that funded them is not available for new programs, he said.

Michael Slavin, president of the Cal U Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty, expressed concern Brogan might limit general education credits.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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