LHU and Sister Universities Spared: No School Closures as Part of State System Review

HARRISBURG — A Colorado consulting firm on Wednesday released its recommendations after a several month review of the financially struggling State System of Higher Education. It did not call for the closure or merger of any of the system’s 14 schools, including Lock Haven University.

The report called for more cooperation and less competition among the 14 schools. The system currently faces a $72 million budget shortfall and according to a committee report, a 3.5 percent tuition increase will be recommended and likely voted on by the state system board on Thursday. Tuition would go from about $7,200 to about $7,500 per semester.

The state system Wednesday released a statement from Cynthia Shapira, chair of the board, and Frank Brogan, chancellor, along with questions and answers about the system-wide review:

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Friends:
Last year, we undertook an important effort to better understand the challenges facing the State System—the same challenges facing many universities around the country. The Board of Governors launched a strategic review of the System’s 14 universities and the Office of the Chancellor—with the intent of ensuring our ability to provide a high-quality, affordable experience.
This has been an incredibly inclusive process. Over the last several months, NCHEMS—the consultant hired to assist with this effort—conducted more than 100 meetings across the state. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni, business and community leaders, and elected officials participated in these meetings as part of the review. In addition, NCHEMS received comments and suggestions from more than 800 individuals through the website established for this project.
NCHEMS has analyzed a wide range of student, program, and financial data, as well as regional and national trends in higher education and workforce demands and today presented a series of recommendations for the future of the State System.
Now, the Board of Governors will carefully review those recommendations and gather additional feedback from all stakeholders before making any decisions regarding which options to pursue in the near-, mid-, and long-term.
Our dedicated faculty, staff, and university leaders do a tremendous job providing outstanding educational opportunities to students, and have done so for many years. Through this review—and the important steps we will take in the months ahead—we must boldy transform our universities for the future. The primary goal throughout this process is to ensure the State System universities can continue to provide an excellent, high-value education to students today and long into the future.
Our message to students is simple: As our 14 universities prepare to open their doors in the fall, we’re confident that this process will make us stronger and better poised to help you succeed. That’s our commitment to you, and our commitment to all of Pennsylvania.
Cynthia D. Shapira
Chair, Board of Governors
Frank T. Brogan
FAQ – State System’s Strategic Review (Updated July 12, 2017)

Q. What is the status of the review?

A. The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS)—the consultant assisting with the review—has finished data collection and analysis and has publically released its recommendations for the future of the State System. Next, the Board of Governors will engage its constituencies to review the recommendations—gathering additional input from students, faculty, staff, and others—and will make decisions regarding which options to pursue.
Q. Is there a plan to close any universities?

A. No.
Q. When will the consultant’s recommendations be implemented?

A. The Board of Governors, chancellor, university trustees, and presidents received the consultant’s report at the same time as students, faculty, staff, and alumni during the public meeting on July 12. The next step will be for everyone to review the recommendations and gather input regarding which are most viable for immediate, mid-term, and long-term implementation in the months and years ahead.
Q. How will the review affect current students at the universities?

A. In the short-term, there will be no impact on students; any organizational changes that might be made in the future would require implementation over time. Such changes must, first and foremost, benefit students. In the long-term, this review is focused on ensuring high-quality, affordable higher education is available for Pennsylvania’s students, and any recommendation that is pursued must do that.
Q. Should students continue applying to our universities and enroll in the fall?

A. Absolutely. The 14 State System universities will welcome more than 100,000 students to their campuses for the upcoming fall semester. This review will make the State System stronger, which should give students and parents even more confidence in the System’s long-term commitment to its ongoing mission. What’s more, any changes that might occur as a result of the review will be carefully implemented over time as the State System evolves.
Q. Has the public had an opportunity to participate in the strategic review?

A. Yes. Because we are Pennsylvania’s public universities, every resident of the Commonwealth has a stake in our success. NCHEMS held more than 100 meetings across the State System universities and met with hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters of the universities. NCHEMS also is hosting a public website, where more than 800 individuals have already provided their input on the process.
Q. Why is this review taking place now?

A. The State System and its 14 universities are facing unprecedented challenges, including lagging state funding and declining enrollment at most universities—challenges similar to those facing virtually all of public higher education in America. At the same time, the universities are preparing for the future by aligning their academic offerings to meet the needs of students and employers. This review is intended to help the universities and the System identify new opportunities that will allow us to better serve students in every region of the Commonwealth through high-quality educational experiences at an exceptional value.