The plans to consolidate six universities into two were approved at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s (PASSHE) Board of Governors meeting last Wednesday according to a PASSHE press release.
The approval is part of PASSHE Chancellor Daniel Greenstein’s System Redesign. The plans are approved but there is a 60-day public comment period being held with two virtual public hearings in June, the press release said.
Greenstein said the integration is “less about how to make students college-ready and focuses far more about how to make colleges ready for our students.”
Individuals involved in the planning “did exactly what you’d expect of mission-driven professionals who are passionate about the role public higher education plays in transforming students’ lives,” Greenstein said.
“Rather than thinking about how to pour students into the mold we have developed over decades, they asked: ‘How do we build an institution that meets our students’ needs now and into the future.’”
Faculty across the State System are sharing their concerns over potential job loss following the release of a University of Massachusetts-Amherst study. The study projected that more than 800 people could lose their jobs by 2023.
According to the study the job cuts from the integrations are “amounting to 14% of overall PASSHE employment,” and compared to the magnitude of the cuts to the largest private-sector plant closing and mass layoffs of the previous decade in the state.
While the structure of the potential layoff is yet to be determined, the study said it is likely that 809 faculty members will be cut by 2023. The study, released on April 26, said the cuts and their spillover effects will have a “substantial” negative impact on the Pennsylvania economy.
The study said integration job cuts will severely impact women because they make up most of PASSHE university student bodies and untenured faculty.
State System officials are holding a 60-day public comment period and will finalize plans later this summer.