The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)
PASSHE is the 14-University system of taxpayer-supported institutions of higher education that includes Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities.PASSHE’s statutory purpose, according to Act 188 of 1982 is: “To provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.”
The Pennsylvania Association of State Colleges and Universities (PASCU)PASCU is a non-partisan, non-profit association of citizens founded in June of 2012 that is committed to preserving the historic purpose of public higher education in Pennsylvania so that individual students, communities, and society at large may be enriched in perpetuity.
PASCU’s Mission is: “To ensure that the statutory purpose of public higher education in Pennsylvania as specified by Act 188 of 1982: ‘High Quality Education at the Lowest Possible Cost to the Students,’ is indefinitely preserved and faithfully delivered.”
The relationship between PASSHE and PASCU has aspects of both harmony and discord as seen below:
· PASSHE’s Act 188 statutory purpose is: “To provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students;” while PASCU’s mission is “To ensure that the statutory purpose of public higher education in Pennsylvania as specified by Act 188 of 1982: ‘High Quality Education at the Lowest Possible Cost to the Students,’ is indefinitely preserved and faithfully delivered.”
· Despite the great similarity in their purpose and mission, PASSHE and PASCU are philosophical opposites. PASSHE, launched in 1983, may be seen as the Thesis (or original idea); PASCU which began three decades later in 2012 may be seen as the Antithesis (or rebuttal to that original idea).
· PASCU is philosophically opposed to PASSHE because of overwhelming evidence that PASSHE has not delivered high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students in recent years.
· PASCU’s opposition to PASSHE, however, is not personal but philosophical and rational.
· PASCU believes that PASSHE’s current 100% political leadership is guilty of: 1) failing to deliver PASSHE’s statutory purpose; and 2) refusing to acknowledge publicly that it has any obligation, intention or plans to deliver PASSHE’s statutory purpose, as mandated by Act 188.
As shown in the first bullet above, PASSHE’s statutory purpose and PASCU’s mission are almost word-for word identical to each other. The central idea in both statements is “high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students,” creating the impression that PASSHE and PASCU are in agreement.
Note however, that the only material difference between the two statements involves an additional five words which appear in PASCU’s mission “…to ensure that PASSHE’s statutory purpose is ‘indefinitely preserved and faithfully delivered.’” These last five words describe the entire core of the disagreement.PASCU believes and alleges, based on compelling evidence, that the PASSHE Board of Governors has not delivered PASSHE’s statutory purpose to the PASSHE students for many years; hence PASCU’s inclusion of the words “faithfully delivered” in its Mission.
PASCU also believes and alleges, based on compelling evidence, that the PASSHE Board of Governors has not preserved PASSHE’s statutory purpose for many years, as documented by its apparent longtime unwillingness to either publicly utter the words “high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students,” or to include those words in its most recent Strategic Plan “2020: Rising to the Challenge.”The compelling evidence just alluded to will be presented in detail in what follows.
A Brief History of the Fourteen PASSHE Universities
Act 188 of 1982 is the enabling legislation that created the public corporation now known as the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), which controls the 14 “PASSHE” universities.
The 14 PASSHE universities initially came into existence as individual private institutions between 1837 and 1893. They were subsequently purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the years after 1910. They were initially called “State Normal Schools;” in the late 1920s their names were changed to “State Teachers’ Colleges;” in the early 1960s their names were changed to “State Colleges;” and finally in 1983 their names were changed to “State Universities” [except for IUP which achieved its university status in 1965, some eighteen before Act 188 conferred university status on the other 13 institutions. Along with the name changes prior to the passage of Act 188, the missions of the 14 institutions evolved steadily in the years since their founding.
DefinitionsPennsylvania Promise: The promise freely given—by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Students of Pennsylvania—upon passing Act 188 with PASSHE’s very explicit statutory purpose.
The Pennsylvania Promise is “High Quality Education at the Lowest Possible Cost to the Students.”
Majority Financial Stakeholders: The PASSHE students, parents and private donors, primarily alumni, now collectively provide 75% of PASSHE’s annual operating revenue. Students and Parents provide 70% of the annual operating revenue while private donors now provide 5%, primarily through scholarships.
Minority Financial Stakeholder: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in the person of the State’s elected and appointed officials, now provides 25% of PASSHE’s annual operating revenue.
Majority Governance Stakeholder: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in the person of the State’s elected and appointed officials, continues to control 100% of PASSHE’s 174 governance seats at the tables where all key PASSHE decisions are made. That includes 20 out of 20 seats on the Board of Governors, as well as 154 out of 154 seats on the Councils of Trustees at the 14 PASSHE universities.
Minority Governance Stakeholder: The PASSHE Students, Parents and Private Donors, primarily Alumni, control 0% of PASSHE’s 174 governance seats.
Funding/Governance Disparity: The disparity between the Funding Shares and the Governance Shares of different financial stakeholders. For example, the Minority Financial Stakeholder, the State, has a funding/governance ratio of 25%/100%, while the Majority Financial Stakeholders, the Students, Parents and private donors, primarily alumni, have a funding/governance ratio of 75%/0%.
Privatization: A rapid defunding of public higher education by the State. This defunding is happening to varying degrees all across America and results from powerful forces, both demographic (primarily an aging population) and economic (a weak recovery with high unemployment and stagnant wages).
To be continued.