This page offers our archive of initially monthly, recently weekly, communications regarding closure and consolidation plans. To receive these updates as they come out, take our brief survey.

Sent 3/28/21 – Coaches Call Out Chancellor’s Poor Leadership, New Website Up, We Need Your Help, Town Hall

Friends, 
Last week APSCUF released a formal statement following Chancellor Greenstein’s comment: “Unless we figure this out, I will be recommending to the board that we come back to the Senate next year with a legislative package to dissolve the [PA State Higher Education] System.”

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APSCUF speaks for 5,000 faculty and coaches who work in the state’s universities. As citizens, friends, and alumni, we continue to be confused by the rapid pace of consolidation and closure underway, coupled with the original announcement of a public comment period beginning this week, April 1. As we’ve seen growing concern from you, we’ve launched a website. Please read it, share it, contact your PA representatives and senators, and consider sending the message we’re focusing on this week (below). 

Thanks for your concern for accessible higher education in Pennsylvania.  
– PA Publics 

In the news & Town Hall Opportunity: Dr. Michele Papakie, professor and department Chairwoman of the Department of Journalism and Public Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was interviewed on the Rick Smith Show; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headlined, State System chancellor’s words worsen enrollment woes facing Pa.’s state universities, faculty union charges; and Lock Haven’s APSCUF chapter recently announced a town hall event to discuss the merger on Zoom, Tuesday evening from 7:00 – 8:30 pm EST. Anyone interested in taking part should email Professor Rick Goulet, rgoulet@apscuf.org

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Contact Your Representatives:
Please be in touch with your state representative or senator, and let them know you’re watching the consolidation underway. Here’s a message we’re sending this week. Of course, adapt to your own voice and insights: 

Dear , 

I’m writing as we get closer to the official public comment period anticipated in relation to the PASSHE Chancellor’s integration plans, beginning April 1. 

Clearly, April 1 arrives this week. Equally as clearly, integration, consolidation, and closure is already being advanced. 

Pennsylvania deserves better: a fair public process and a real shot at building a competitive higher education system based on our strengths. What we don’t want is for the whole state system to be dismantled because one out-of-state expert comes in with pre-formed conclusions about what’s best for our state. 

The State System is an extremely effective investment for students, families, and communities: 

  • PASSE universities account for more than half of PA college students who move from the bottom 60% of incomes to the top 40% as adults.
  • Each dollar invested in state universities produced an average return of $10.61 in economic impact. 
  • PASSE universities are already lean. Accessible institutions spend nearly $150,000 less on each student over four-years than elite institutions do. 
  • PASSE universities are one of the top 10 employers in seven of the 20 counties in which they are located.
  • PASSE universities receive less funding than they have in decades. Pennsylvania invests about $220 million less in higher education than it did twenty years ago.

PA Publics, a volunteer group of PASSHE alumni and friends, has two positions we would like to know if you agree or disagree with: 

  1. We ask the legislature to take responsibility for supervising the Chancellor and ensuring the transparency guarantees he suggests, which at this point must include legislative direction to cease consolidation until at least the end of the formal comment period. The Chancellor has already begun implementing consolidation plans, despite claiming that a sixty day comment period would commence April 1. (We understand why some people are even calling for the Chancellor’s resignation, after he fundamentally undermined his entire system with his comments during March 18 testimony to the legislature). 
    1. Do you agree that a sixty day comment period, without consolidation during that period, must be honored?  
  2. We ask the legislature and Chancellor to ensure that Pennsylvania leads from strengths. Throughout his tenure, the Chancellor has used fear and anxiety about the enrollment cliff, rather than focusing on the strengths of the system we have, considering opportunities for strategic advantage, and developing multi-pronged, flexible and dynamic proposals that are more imaginative than simply driving toward stackable credentials and consolidation. Stackable credentials, to be clear, are a great idea. But they’re a small part of the puzzle. While institutions innovate rapidly to attract students, from Southern New Hampshire University to Elon University in North Carolina and with many public and private examples in between, our leadership has chosen instead to emphasize the absence of students. This is not going to get PA where it needs to be for 21st Century Leadership. 
    1. Do you agree with our call to the Chancellor to better recognize and lead from Pennsylvania’s and PASSHE’s diverse strengths? 

We look forward to hearing from you regarding your position on the comment period and leading from strengths. Additionally, if you like the information we’re sharing, we would be honored if you would share with your constituents the opportunity to provide feedback on state system integration or our website.  

Thank you for your consideration and your public service. 

Sent 3/21/21 – The Rapid, Radical Destruction of Pennsylvania’s State Universities

Friends
This is not hyperbole. There is a government-sponsored wrecking ball, in the form of Chancellor Dan Greenstein, shutting down access to education for Pennsylvania’s working and middle classes. Last fall, we were told that there would be a period for public comment on plans for the system, beginning April 1. Since that time: 

Does that sound like an opportunity for public comment on plans that are still being considered to you? 

Greenstein’s plans hurt small towns across Pennsylvania and undermine working and middle class access to higher education exactly as the universities are becoming their most diverse ever (And yes, that article links to shortcomings the state system has with respect to inclusion – something that’s not likely to be solved by decreasing faculty to student ratios and sending more students online).

To even stand a chance of being heard by our Penn-educated Chancellor (Penn annual tuition, $57,770; Penn Endowment, 14,900,000,000) or our Dartmouth-grad Governor (Dartmouth annual tuition, $57,796; Dartmouth Endowment, 5,700,000,000) – we’re ALL going to have to speak clearly and loudly.  

Let’s face it: we state system graduates aren’t sitting around enjoying our trust funds doing whatever kind of political activism pleases us. We need to work for our bread, and stand up for smart public investment in accessible college opportunities for qualified Pennsylvanians. So please, take 10 minutes out of your work week to: 

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Dear Representative / Senator: 

I’m extremely concerned about the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) redesign underway. I want to see solutions that work for working and middle class families. And I want to know there’s a clear process for public comment. While our state hosts many tax-exempt, elite, private universities like Penn and Carnegie Mellon, we are also 47th in the country for spending on public higher education. Since 2000, state spending on public higher ed has been continuously decreasing

I’m all for improving efficiencies, but let’s be honest and transparent about the whole process that is currently underway. Chancellor Greenstein owes state citizens the opportunity for meaningful feedback once a plan is announced – and the planning must consider a range of possible options, including better state fiscal management and investment in public higher ed. So far, it looks like the Chancellor has begun implementing plans and isn’t considering any options other than his current conclusion

Please play the legislative role of overseeing this public employee, and ensure access to quality public higher education for working class and middle class families across the state. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for us to invest in a system where Governor Wolf or Chancellor Greenstein would be proud to send their children. I understand we want to be efficient with our dollars, but reliable, independent studies indicate that for every $1 spent on public higher ed in PA, more than ten dollars are generated. And PA Public Institutions are often economic engines in the communities where they’re located. This is money well spent – a smart investment. 

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your reply. 

Sincerely, 
…. 

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And thanks to all of you for being on this list! Our apologies for not getting more to you more often. We’re a volunteer crowd trying to pick up news across the state. We’ll keep reaching out as the public comment period opens up. 
For Opportunity Elevation, 
PA Publics 

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Sent 2/5/21 – Burying News on the State System: Public Higher Ed in PA

Happy Friday, Friends, 

I hope you’re doing well. You’re getting this email because you completed a survey about Public Higher Education in PA. If you’d like to be removed from the list, just let me know. Or if you, like me, are concerned about accessible higher education in our state, please share this survey with other state system alumni and ask them to complete it. 

That’s the #1 thing you can do right now – ask at least 5 PA residents and/or state system alumni who care about Public Higher Ed to complete this surveyWhy? Because there will be a public comment period after April 1, when the PA State System is scheduled to announce its integration plans. Everyone who cares about accessible college for working class families across PA needs to be ready to respond. 

Most of us are worried the state is not being transparent with us about what’s happening to our schools. Two Fridays ago, PASSHE announced then-LHU President Robert Pignatello would resign his presidency to work with PASSHE in Harrisburg. Today, PASSHE re-upped the old bury-news-on-Friday trick as it appointed controversy-plagued Bloomsburg President Bashar Hanna to oversee LHU. These Friday moves are directly at odds with the state system story that there will be ample time for public feedback on plans once they’re announced in April. I’m not the only one who has noticed that the “public process” has been anything but. 

On Thursday APSCUF President Dr. Jamie Martin testified to the Board of Governors, saying in part that on Jan. 20, 2020, the “first case of COVID-19 was being identified in the United States. On Feb. 13, 2020, Chancellor Daniel Greenstein sent a memorandum to the university presidents laying out his expectations for our universities to reach financial sustainability within five years — by 2023–24. On that day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the 15th case of COVID-19 in the United States. At the April 2020 Board of Governors meeting, the chancellor accelerated the timeframe within which universities had to reach financial sustainability — from five years to three years. He also instructed universities to return the student/faculty ratios that existed in 2010–11 — but now by 2021–22. At this time, the number of COVID-19 cases was approaching half a million.” 
It seems the Chancellor is moving the goalposts and starting the process before public comment, in the midst of a crisis. 

So we need to be organized. In the late 90s, there were nearly 100,000 PASSHE students in total. That’s still true today. Think of how many alumni there are, together. And everyone has a stake in the state system – it’s an economic engine across the state. Ask your friends to complete this survey too. About 100 folks have already completed it – and we haven’t even really tried to reach out yet. 

Some folks have already been in touch with their state reps. That’s great. 
Check out and follow the emerging social media too: 

Let’s be sure higher education is accessible in Pennsylvania. Share the survey. Thanks! 

Sent 1/9/21 – What’s your opinion on affordable higher education in Pennsylvania?

Hello, 

We are alumni and friends of the PA State System of Higher Education. We represent half of the state system institutions and seven different counties across the state – and we want to reach across the entire state. We are organizing to ensure that alumni and friends voices are heard and understood in the State System redesign process. To express your opinion on affordable higher education in PA, and to stay in touch with us, please fill out this very brief surveySome of you have already done so. Either way, please, send this email forward to at least five additional friends or colleagues who are state system alumni or friends. And ask them to fill out the survey too. So far, our survey results suggest most of us are concerned about the future of higher education in PA. We’ve also been reading through research and reports on the state system, and talking with alumni employed in higher education or policy. It’s clear why there’s concern about the downsizing, retrenchments, and integrations in the planning process now:  

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These facts are sourced from research from several different authors, which we include in Opportunity Elevators and Economic Engines, a fact sheet in our collection of resources on the state system and redesign
The Chancellor, the Governor, and the State Legislature may all have the right goals and understanding among them – but it’s important that alumni and friends have a clear voice. We’ve also noticed that elite institutions have massive offices dedicated to their own lobbying, fundraising, and alumni leverage. The state system doesn’t have the same luxuries. But we are many in number, and we are working to build a network of state system advocates who are informed and ready to respond when the public comment period begins on the redesign process in April of this year.   

Please, be certain to: 

  1. Take the survey.
  2. Forward this to at least 5 friends. 
  3. Ask them to take the survey.  

For the future of the state and its families and communities, 
PA Publics 

Your Support is Essential