State universities vital to Pennsylvania

The Mirror’s recent editorial, “PASSHE faces tough decisions,” made a number of important points, including the fact that several of the universities within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education are facing serious enrollment and fiscal challenges.

It is important to note, however, that they are far from alone.

In fact, the vast majority of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are facing similar challenges.

This includes most of the campuses within both the Pennsylvania State University and University of Pittsburgh “systems,” as well as most of the four-year private colleges and universities in the state.

According to data submitted annually to the U.S. Department of Education, more than two-thirds of the four-year, degree-granting institutions in the state enrolled fewer students last year than they did in 2010.

The state’s shifting demographics, which has seen the number of high school graduates across Pennsylvania decline in recent years, has affected us all.

Perhaps what has made the state system stand out on this issue is the fact that we have chosen to engage openly and intentionally in addressing the challenges our universities are facing.

And we have done much more than just talk; we have taken bold steps to begin to redesign ourselves for the future, to help ensure our universities continue to thrive.

There is no doubt our universities are important, not just to our students, but also to the entire commonwealth.

To students, they provide access to high-quality, affordable education that prepares them for future success. To the commonwealth, they are engines that drive the local, regional and statewide economies.

We will continue to have an important public dialogue about our challenges; more important, we will continue to redesign the system using creative ways to address those challenges.

Kenn Marshall

Media Relations Manager

Pennsylvania’s

State System

of Higher Education

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