To the Editor:
Solution to the Lock Haven University Problems
Lock Haven University and the City of Lock Haven have had a symbiotic relationship for over one hundred years. The City is dependent on the University and the University is dependent on the City. If either partner fails, the other suffers. It has become completely evident over the last few years that Lock Haven University is suffering. The suffering has evidenced itself by a dramatic drop in the student population from approximately 5500 students to 4300 students. It is further evident by the recent announcement of the University that they will possibly cancel the men’s and women’s track teams and the swimming team. This reduction in student population has also had an adverse effect on the City because of the lack of student rentals being utilized and the lack of student money being spend in the town in restaurants, bars and other services.
The problem with Lock Haven University is that it is a failing entity and the Pennsylvania State College System is going to make cuts to save funds and the University is at risk for being dismantled.
When a business, such as a hotel, has a marketplace reduction in demand for its services, the hotel cannot be moved., but the hotel can change franchises and try to go to a more recognized franchise name. Lock Haven University has excellent facilities and an excellent education system, but it is an unknown entity that seems to lack its own personality. The solution is simple. Change franchises. In other words, if a sign was put up at Lock Haven University that it is a Penn State University branch campus or a University of Pittsburgh branch campus, there would be an excessive demand for students to enter. Lock Haven is only 45 minutes from the main campus of Penn State and it would be an ideal location for another branch campus of Penn State, which has numerous branch campuses across the State of Pennsylvania. The students at this branch could access the full facilities at the main campus in State College. This change would require a drastic change of thinking on the part of the administration of Lock Haven University. They would have to seek negotiation with Penn State to become a branch campus and then withdraw from the State System of Higher Education. Penn State has more applicants and demand for students than they can possibly handle.
If Lock Haven University needs to look at any history for the success of such a transition, they should look at the former Williamsport Community College, which went through the same transition and became a branch campus of Penn State University and is now knows as Penn College. They were struggling and barely surviving until they made the transition to Penn College, as a subsidiary of Penn State University.
The mere changing of the sign and name on the University and some administrative changes would be the only needed requirements, once this transition was negotiated. The facilities, the professors and the existing students would not have to change anything except for the possible t-shirts and sweatshirts that they wear. If it becomes impossible to negotiate a deal with Penn State, there is also the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, Drexel University and possibly even the University of Penn that could surely use the extra income generated by a branch campus.
Thus, the current LHU administration can sit back and do nothing and ride the University into the ground, or they can make some dramatic decisions to go in a different direction and solve their lack of demand for their services. Lock Haven would evolve from being a small, relatively unknown Central Pennsylvania college to a Statewide, Countrywide and Internationally known branch campus, which could thrive off of the Penn State reputation.
I hope that the University can make these dramatic decisions immediately and not wait for the situation to get worse.
Lee H. Roberts, local resident