Six months on the job, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor has developed a clear vision of where he wants to lead the 14-university system.
Allowing universities to break away from the system,, has no place in that plan.Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Frank Brogan shared his vision for the system following his official swearing-in as chancellor. He started the job on Oct. 1. Pa. State System of Higher Education
In his State of the System address delivered on Wednesday after his ceremonial installation as chancellor held at Dixon University Center in Harrisburg, Brogan implored those in attendance, including system board members, trustees, and university presidents, to consider that most of the top-rated public universities in the nation are members of university systems.
There is strength in numbers, Brogan said. And while being part of the State System means we all share the same primary mission, how we go about achieving that mission differs. That demands flexibility rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to decision making. The board of governors and I are committed to that.
Sens. Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks County, and Andy Dinniman, R-Chester County, caused a stir last month when they announced plans their that would allow system universities to peel off from the system but continue to receive state funding.
The senators argued that the well-attended universities, such as West Chester, were subsidizing the lower-enrolled schools and in turn, hurting the programs they are able to provide to their students. A hearing on that proposal was scheduled for this week but was cancelled at Tomlinson's request.
In his half-hour address, Brogan spoke of his 20-20 vision for the 112,000-student system and its fiscal challenges and declining enrollment that he inherited when he arrived in October. He had been the chancellor at the State University System of Florida.
In the audience to hear his speech was his wife Courtney and son Colby John, who held the Bible as he took an oath of office. Among the many he thanked, Brogan expressed his gratitude to his family for their willingness to follow me on this grand new adventure to Pennsylvania.
Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne County, and others called Brogan the right man for the job at this time. Faculty union President Steve Hicks said the system pulled off quite a coup in hiring the Florida system chancellor and said, "he has hit the ground running and already exhibited great energy and a willingness to work, which I find admirable."
After handing him the chancellor's medallion which he will wear at formal occasions, board Chairman Guido Pichini said, "you are now official." Brogan joked that being official means he now earns the right to get 500 business cards.
While most of his address took a serious tone, Brogan did take a moment to poke fun at his loquacious tendencies, saying anyone who know me will tell you that I enjoy words, okay, no smart remarks there. It's very obvious I like words."
Brogan spoke of the work going on now to reposition universities to meet the demands and fiscal realities of today and tomorrow. At the same time, efforts are underway to address the unrest that sparked Tomlinson and Dinniman s legislation by giving system universities more autonomy while keeping an eye toward being more flexible, more collaborative and more student-focused.
Specifically, Brogan said the system:
Approved tuition pilot programs to let universities adjust their pricing to better address their individual program costs and enrollment demands. Six have been approved so far with three more are to be considered by the board at its meetings on Thursday.
Is reducing the time it takes to review a new program from a year or more to less than 90 days to respond to a specific and immediate need in the community where the university is located.
Is moving to provide more local control in the approval of academic minors, certificate and letters of completion.
Plans to include university trustees and search committee chairs in the final deliberations by the system s board in presidential selections. Presently, the system's board holds all the cards in making that decision.
Is conducting a region-by-region gap analysis to determine where shortages of educated workers exist and hoe universities can help fill those gaps with new or expanded programs.
Is increasing online education offerings.
Plans to work with faculty to update the system s general education to better meet the needs of students in the 21st century marketplace.
After outlining the vision he holds for the system, he stated all the work centers around 21 specific outcomes including increasing the number of degrees or certificates awarded, increasing the number of adult students and community college transfers and increasing distance education.
Does this sound like a system in decline? Brogan said. No, it doesn t. We re confident in our future. Yes, it ll take a lot of hard work. Yes, it means tough decisions. Yes, it may even require some sacrifice from all of us. But I believe we are up to the challenge.
The State System includes Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities.
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