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Seeks special funding to support investment in new programs in high-priority occupations

Harrisburg – The Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has endorsed a proposed 2014-15 budget proposal that would provide the framework for transforming the State System to meet the changing demands of students and employers in the commonwealth.

The proposal includes an increase of approximately $16.5 million in funding from the state for basic university operations and features a targeted line item of $18 million to allow the PASSHE universities to accelerate ongoing new program development and expansion of areas of study aligned with high-priority workforce needs in the Commonwealth.

“We are retooling our universities to meet changing student demographics; new workforce demands; and the rapid evolution of how, where, when and by whom courses and programs are offered,” said board chair Guido M. Pichini. “University investment in the realignment of programs and resources is evidence of PASSHE’s determination to continue to offer high quality, affordable education that remains current in today’s economy.”

PASSHE universities have over the last five years introduced 56 new academic programs in areas such as software engineering, applied science, safety management and a variety of allied health fields. At the same time, the universities placed 158 low-enrolled programs in moratorium, meaning they no longer accept new students while ensuring currently enrolled students receive the classes and support they need through graduation; discontinued 40 programs in which no students were enrolled; and reorganized 90 programs to ensure their currency.  

“We are in the midst of the process of reducing or eliminating programs that have experienced low student demand in the past few years,” said new Chancellor Frank T. Brogan.  “And, because we are a public university system, all of the changes on our campuses, including realignment of our faculty, are in full view.”

While the elimination of low-enrolled programs has produced some campus savings, those savings are not sufficient to fund the startup of new programs or expansion of existing high-need programs which, in many cases, are high cost because of equipment needs. That is the purpose of the special line item request approved by the Board.

"PASSHE’s commitment to ensuring relevance in our programs, reducing costs through collaboration and focusing resources on what students want and the commonwealth needs represent time-honored principles followed by effective organizations in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors,” Mr. Brogan said. “Our record of providing outstanding educational value to our students must never be compromised.

“During this time of transformation, I can assure you that each of our universities will strive to be the best it can be, focusing on its strengths, maintaining its quality programming and developing new academic offerings that respond to changing workforce demands.”

With the request approved today, the Board is seeking the Commonwealth to share in that investment.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the commonwealth, with about 112,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and the Philadelphia Multi University Center in Philadelphia.

10/17/2013 2:01 PM

PASSHE Board of Governors approves 2014-15 budget proposal to help universities meet changing demands