ESU Students Spend Day at Capitol Seeking Support for Universities
Photo caption: ESU students and administrators joined their counterparts from the 13 other universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education seeking support for and investment in public higher education. From left: Sen. Mario Scavello; Joseph Fitzgerald, an integrated art and design major from Folcroft; Miguel Barbosa, ESU chief of staff; Keisha Kauffman, a criminal justice and political science major from Hillsborough, N.J.; Jessika Pyett, a business management major from Delaware Water Gap; Andrew Kissling, a business management major from Conshohocken; Justin Raymond, a computer science major from East Stroudsburg; and ESU President Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D.
Nearly 100 university students – including nine representatives from East Stroudsburg University – accompanied dozens of faculty, staff, university presidents, trustees and alumni from the 14 universities that comprise Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education to meet with legislators throughout the Capitol on Tuesday seeking support for and investment in the State System. Members of the ESU Student Senate executive board in attendance include Andrew Kissling, president, a business management major from Conshohocken; Keisha Kauffman, vice president, a criminal justice and political science major from Hillsborough, N.J.; Jessika Pyett, treasurer, a business management major from Delaware Water Gap; Justin Raymond, chair of the academic affairs committee, a computer science major from East Stroudsburg; and Joseph Fitzgerald, chair of the finance committee, an integrated art and design major from Folcroft.
The students met with legislators to talk about their own college experiences and how important the education they are receiving is to them and to their families, and about the vital role the universities play in each of the campus communities, as well as in their regions and across the Commonwealth.
“As president of Student Senate, I believe it was necessary to personally meet with our legislators to emphasize the critical role they play in keeping our State System universities affordable and accessible. As student representatives, we also need to garner their support,” said Kissling. “I represent the students at ESU, and I want to do everything I can to express how important a college education is for all of us.”
In addition to the meetings with legislators, representatives from ESU and other State System universities set up displays in the Capitol Rotunda where they demonstrated some of their top academic programs and research projects and provided information about their schools to Capitol visitors. Several biology students along with forensic scientist and alumna Nicole Chinnici, represented ESU with a demonstration of work being done at the University’s Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab. Students involved in the demonstration were: Jessica Burns, a biology major from East Stroudsburg; Kristina Roy, a biology major from Greentown; and Eric Januszkiewicz, a biology, biochemistry and chemical biotechnology major from New Paltz, N.Y.
The Capitol event was designed in part to demonstrate the high rate of return the state receives from its investment in higher education, especially in the 14 universities that comprise the State System. Ultimately, it is to help ensure the universities can continue to provide outstanding education opportunities to students, said Shaina Hilsey, president of the Student Government Association at California University of Pennsylvania and recently appointed member of the Board of Governors.
“At the end of the day, I truly believe we all share a single goal: We want the universities to not just survive, we want them to thrive, for years to come,” Hilsey said, as she also talked about the ongoing strategic review of the State System. “We want to ensure that not only current students like us, but also those who have yet to be born, have access to outstanding educational opportunities that will prepare them for success in their lives and their careers.”
“When Pennsylvania’s public universities flourish, Pennsylvania succeeds,” said Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. “A continued investment in the 14 universities in the State System is an investment in the success of every Pennsylvanian. These are our universities; these are our students; this is our future. And it’s time we make an investment in the future.”
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, enrolling more than 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more in certificate and other career-development programs. Collectively, the 14 universities that comprise the State System offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. Nearly 520,000 State System university alumni live in Pennsylvania.
The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operate branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP), and Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and in Center City in Philadelphia.