Universities may Break-away from State System
12, 2014- Don Rooney
State Senators from both sides of the aisle have thrown their support behind
legislation that would allow financially secure universities to break away from
the State System of Higher Education.
Dinniman and Tommy Tomlinson, a Republican from Bucks County, have proposed
bipartisan legislation that would enable universities that meet certain
criteria to transfer out of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
The senators said their legislation would give universities in the system
greater independence and flexibility in meeting financial challenges and
academic and enrollment needs.
legislation would allow PASSHE schools who can afford it to purchase their
buildings and property from the State System, bringing millions of dollars into
the state system and providing an infusion of much-needed funds; PASSHE has a
current debt of 61 million dollars. The system has also experienced a decline
in enrollment in recent years; 12 of the 14 schools in the State System have
lost as much as 18 percent of their enrollment.
that qualify for a transfer under the legislation would become a state-related
university, joining Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln Universities in that
regard. In order to make the transfer, the institution must:
student enrollment of more than 7,000.
unqualified audit opinion for three years.
the financial ability to compensate the state for the depreciated value of its
to contribute to the employer share for pension obligations.
university’s chancellor would be required to put together a timeline in
agreement with the institution's council of trustees on the transfer process.
Collective bargaining agreements in place at the time of the transfer will
remain in force for the term of the contract. New collective bargaining
contracts would be negotiated by the university.
Sen. John Wozniak today released the following statement regarding the
introduction of legislation that would allow certain universities to leave the
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education:
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education was created to broaden the
availability of higher education and create opportunity for many who would
otherwise not be able to afford college. Over the past four years, we have
asked the system to do the impossible -- to fulfill its mandate with
ever-dwindling financial support from the state.
schools that are in the best financial condition would not simply mean more
difficulty for the remaining schools, but it would be, in fact, contrary to the
PSSHE mission and the American principle of opportunity for all. Asking the state system schools to rein in
tuition costs and provide a high-quality education in the face dwindling public
support defies the reality faced by educators across America.
state system is more than lines on a ledger and its mission goes well beyond
the keeping the doors open and the lights on. These schools mean opportunity
for every student without regard to economic or social status. Allowing the
system to disintegrate would be abandoning that mission and the end of notion
of equal opportunity.”