General Assembly Supports Reforms to the State System, Providing Pathways to Future Success

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on June 25, 2020, No Comments

Pennsylvania’s General Assembly approved historic legislation Wednesday, opening new opportunities for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education to achieve affordability and sustainability at its 14 universities.

House Bill 2171 passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate by overwhelming bipartisan votes. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf for his consideration.

“This bill represents some of the most significant improvements to how the State System operates in our 38-year history,” Chancellor Dan Greenstein said. “The reforms will allow us to build upon the substantial progress we’ve already made toward ensuring affordability for students and financial sustainability for our universities. This landmark achievement is the direct result of our university constituencies coming together behind our Redesign. And we could not have gotten this done without our partners in the General Assembly. We greatly appreciate the leadership of House Education Chairman Curt Sonney, Representatives Jesse Topper and Meghan Schroeder, and Senators Scott Martin and Robert Tomlinson.”

Among the reforms in House Bill 2171 are:

  • A new process for the Board of Governors to adapt to changing market forces through creating, expanding, consolidating, transferring, or affiliating institutions.
  • Increased opportunity for the Board of Governors to achieve significant systemwide cost savings through shared services or collaborations among the universities. The Board would demonstrate how such measures can provide the universities cost reductions and improved efficiencies, while providing a university’s Council of Trustees discretion to participate.
  • Swift appointment of students to the Board of Governors and Councils of Trustees, enabling the Board of Governors to make such appointments.
  • Relief from providing information already available through a federal education data system, eliminating the “Snyder Report.”
  • Ability for campus police to share investigatory information with university leadership for use in student disciplinary matters.
  • Protection of student privacy by exempting student records from state disclosure laws

Cindy Shapira, chair of the Board of Governors, thanked members in the House and Senate for supporting House Bill 2171.

“This bill supports all three principles of our Redesign effort – student success, leveraging our strengths, and transforming our governing structure,” Shapira said. “I want to express my gratitude to all of those who contributed to the successful journey of this bill and who believe in the value a public higher education brings to the Commonwealth.”

The bill becomes law immediately with the governor’s signature.

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education oversees 14 four-year public universities educating more than 95,000 students. The State System offers more than 2,300 degrees and certificates in more than 530 academic areas. 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.