Report: Some Pa. State Universities Could Merge or Close
For the first time in its 35-year history, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education will reportedly consider merging or closing some of its 14 campuses.
A five-year steady enrollment decline and federal funding cuts have led the 100,000-student system to review its options, according to the Inquirer. Cynthia D. Shapira, chair of the system’s board of governors, told the newspaper that federal funding for the system is $60 million below where it stood in the year prior to the recession.
Last year, PSSHE endured months of stagnating contract negotiations with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties union, which led roughly 5,000 faculty members (about 80 percent of faculty) to strike for the first time in the system’s history. The strike, which occurred in October, lasted three days before an agreement (which included faculty pay increases) was reached.
System spokesman Kenn Marshall told the Inquirer that PSSHE, which will likely continue to make budget cuts, has requested a $61 million funding increase for 2017-18.
Enrollment at West Chester University – the system’s largest university – has recently grown. Lock Haven University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania have seen the most notable declines.
The system also includes Kutztown, Millersville, Shippensburg, Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Mansfield and Slippery Rock universities.
Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.