State system's new chancellor talks change as campus tour stops at California University
Changes are needed at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities to transform them into “world class” educational facilities, the system's new chancellor, Frank T. Brogan, said Wednesday.
“We have 14 wonderful institutions,” he said during a visit to California University of Pennsylvania, the ninth stop on a tour of the schools he has been overseeing since becoming chancellor Oct. 1.
Brogan said he has found a lot to like about the system, in particular the independence and uniqueness of the universities and the mix of students and skill levels.
But change is going to come, said Brogan, the former two-term lieutenant governor of Florida who headed the State University System of Florida before assuming his most recent role.
Brogan, who also served as president of Florida Atlantic University, suggested a top-to-bottom review of online education, tuition, fees and course offerings.
“I'm trying in one man's very small way to ... knit together the 14 universities,” he said.
While not spelling out a timeline for his plans, Brogan said the sooner the better.
“There's an urgency to all of this,” he said. “There's lots to do.”
Brogan's plans were met with skepticism by faculty union leaders.
“I'm cautious for a number of reasons,” said Michael Slavin, president of the California chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty. “This is the third person we've hired from Florida and they all basically said the same thing. ... I didn't hear him say anything about dealing with the political atmosphere that is basically undercutting education in Pennsylvania.”
Like other educational systems across the country, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or PASSHE, is going through a critical realignment to keep pace “in a very competitive market,” Brogan said.
Universities in the state have been placing programs with low enrollment on hold while enrolling more students in programs in science, technology, mathematics, business and health.
But PASSHE is not just the “giant vocational, technical center of the future,” Brogan said. It is a place where students learn about art, culture, sciences and literature.
“That's the hallmark ... we have to hang onto that,” Brogan said.
At the same time, the system has to make sure that its programs “have real-world needs.”
One of the key challenges, Brogan said, is to keep students here after they graduate.
“There's still a lot of questions ... what will the economy look like?” he said. “Can we create an environment to keep them here?”
The state-owned universities have a combined enrollment of about 115,000 students, nearly 90 percent Pennsylvania residents, Brogan said.
“That's an amazing statistic,” he said. “(The schools) have enormous regional and statewide impact.”
Another hallmark of the system has been its lower costs.
“You can get it cheap at a PASSHE school,” Brogan said.
Tuition at the state-owned universities was increased 3 percent — about $194 a year — for the 2013-14 academic year. Tuition is $6,622 for in-state, full-time students per year.
Brogan said he hopes to retain the local charm of the schools during the transformation.
It's possible, for instance, to “maintain the independence of California University while making it a stronger player on the system side and the commonwealth side.”
The next stop on Brogan's tour is Slippery Rock University.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Kensington man on trial on charges of molesting girl during 7-year period
- Westmoreland County Land Bank targets first Latrobe building for demolition
- Jeannette District Memorial Hospital demolition work complete
- Proposed trucking repair facility at air park gets Unity planners’ OK
- Westmoreland Co. businessman going to prison
- Proposal could clear way for finalizing sale of West Newton’s Plumer House
- Members of North Huntingdon family attacked by rabid otter in Va.
- Hempfield Area considers renovations at high school
- Mt. Pleasant approves PennDOT pact
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Police: Carnival worker arrested for hitting, dragging Dunbar Township man with truck