The Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education or PASSHE ranks at or near the worst in the nation in nearly every statistical category. U.S. News and World Report currently rank the state’s higher education system at 50th overall in the nation.
In an interview with the Courier last fall, PASSHE chancellor Daniel Greenstein said that the challenges facing the state system are consequent of poor decisions and policy choices on the part of the General Assembly.
Greenstein further voiced his frustration on the matter in his annual State of the System address to members of the General Assembly and chief investors and donors, on Jan. 15.
“Out of choice, Pennsylvania ranks 48th in the nation for its funding for high education,” Greenstein said while giving a prolonged glance at the General Assembly members present.
Greenstein added that it is due to this choice that Pennsylvania ranks among the highest in the cost of education, and student debt load. Another consequence, Greenstein stated, is the struggle to attract both public and private investors.
Also in his address, Greenstein presented a new plan to completely restructure the state system. “Our system is fluid, and it’s at a turning point,” Greenstein said. “This year we will decide whether all Pennsylvanians, regardless of race, zip code and wealth, have an affordable pathway into and beyond the middle class”.
Greenstein went on to declare his vision for the near future, mentioning a sharing system, where a student from one PA public university could access a course at another; also a plan to execute budget plans so that all fourteen PASSHE schools are financially sustainable in five years.
Greenstein announced that he will be requesting a two percent increase in budget appropriation over the last fiscal year, as well as a $20 million installment on a five year, $100 million investment plan.
The goal of this plan, Greenstein stated, is to transform the state system and that the changes initiated by this plan would not only save money but create new revenue.
Greenstein also noted that since this restructuring is such an innovative process, the State System Foundation is establishing an innovation fund to help identify and implement innovative practices that will benefit students and universities.
According to Greenstein, the commitment of his office and his primary goal is to execute budget plans that will ensure that all PA state universities are financially sustainable. Greenstein concluded his address by stating that while the state system has substantial work to do, a stable partnership with the General Assembly is crucial.
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