Less than a week after assuming her new role as interim chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), Karen Whitney has already visited two PASSHE universities, with plans to visit the other 12 universities in the coming weeks.
“While we have concerns about this pick [of chancellor], we are looking forward and focusing on our students,” said Kenneth Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF). “As for the interim chancellor’s visits this week, we think listening is a great place to start, and hope that she hears concerns and takes them to heart.”
Whitney spent Tuesday and Wednesday of last week visiting Slippery Rock and Indiana universities, respectively. She said the decision to spend her first days as chancellor visiting with students stemmed from a desire to make PASSHE’s students a top priority.
“I want to spend my first days as interim chancellor listening and learning,” Whitney said in a PASSHE press release. “Everything we do at each of our universities — and as a system — should be focused on our students and their success.”
Whitney’s appointment as interim chancellor came on the heels of former Chancellor Frank Brogan’s retirement announcement during a July Board of Governors meeting. Prior to her promotion, Whitney served as president of Clarion University since July 2010.
The transition between chancellors came at a busy time for PASSHE and its universities. Throughout the last year, Brogan and the BoG developed a strategic review plan to be tested throughout each campus. At the conclusion of the review, an implementation plan was developed in hopes of reorganizing each university with a renewed focus on student success. The plan will be launched this year under the advisement of Whitney.
“I applaud Chancellor Brogan and the board for having the courage to tackle issues that have developed over time in this system,” Whitney said in the press release. “Because of the foundation they have laid, we are prepared to take bold steps toward increasing educational opportunities for students, modernizing how we do business and ensuring a successful transition to the next permanent chancellor. That’s my focus, and that is what I’m committed to.”
Whitney’s new role also comes with a fresh start for the professional relationship between PASSHE and APSCUF representatives. Last October, contract negotiations for APSCUF faculty members disintegrated, causing a three-day faculty strike across all 14 campuses. Mash said APSCUF is prepared to begin working with Whitney.
“We are eager to collaborate with the interim chancellor and look forward to playing a role in selecting a permanent chancellor who has a background in higher education and will do what is best for students,” Mash said.
Whitney does not have specific plans to visit Shippensburg University at this time, she plans to visit over the next several weeks, according to PASSHE Media Relations Manager Kenn Marshall.
For updates and additional information on when Whitney will be visiting SU, visit theslateonline.com.