HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – For the first time in its 35-year history, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is reviewing the possibility of merging or closing universities.
The 14 state-owned universities include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.
The original benefit of the state system was having one school in each community so students could live at home and commute. That need has evolved over the years as more options for online courses developed.
In addition to the costs associated with 14 buildings, 14 university presidents, their assistants, administrators, deans, and staff, enrollment has been going down. In 2010, there were nearly 120,000 students enrolled in PASSHE schools. Now, there are 105,000.
Penn State, Temple, Lincoln, and University of Pittsburgh are not in the PASSHE system. They are state-related schools.
State funding for PASSHE is down $60 million since the recession. The review of merging and closing options will include input from students, alumni, faculty, staff, and elected leaders.
Although there is no set time frame for the study, PASSHE’s chancellor is hoping to have data collected by the end of this year. Any closings or mergers would require approval from the state Legislature.