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Report Explores Various Changes To State University System

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Various types of consolidation of the existing system of state-owned universities are among options offered in a bid to promote long-term sustainability and viability for Indiana University of Pennsylvania and other Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education institutions.

That report was released this morning in Harrisburg by the General Assembly’s joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee after a hearing lasting about an hour that detailed the findings by the Rand Corporation and reaction from two leading PASSHE officials.

Options as offered by Dr. Charles Goldman of the Rand Corporation include keeping the state system as is but with improvements; merging PASSHE universities from 14 down to between five and eight schools; converting the state-owned universities to state-related status; placing PASSHE under management of a state-related university such as Penn State or Pitt; and merging the PASSHE universities as branch campuses of state-related institutions.

Interim PASSHE Chancellor Dr. Karen Whitney said she appreciated the work of Rand and the committee but offered pushback on some points. She said the state system is committed to preserving all 14 universities and three of the Rand options are incompatible with that commitment.

Whitney was joined by Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Peter H. Garland.

Questions from committee members pointed to perceived shortcomings in Rand’s effort, including the decision to only visit four of the 14 schools: California, Slippery Rock, Mansfield and Cheyney.