New PASSHE chancellor calls retrenchment a “difficult and emotional issue”
Frank Brogan, new Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education chancellor, held his first public media briefing Thursday, speaking on retrenchment, programming, and some of his vision for the system.
With regards to retrenchment, Brogan said, “by definition, you’re looking at a very difficult and emotional issue.”
He assured that the Board of Governors and university leadership are all taking the issue very seriously and attributed the budget problems to “a very difficult economy and an ultimately, somewhat, perfect storm.”
Declining state revenue, declining enrollment numbers, and increasing costs were cited as some of the factors accumulating to cause the storm.
“We’re looking at some very stressful situations, especially on the economic side. But, we are not alone. The same impacts are being felt by institutions all across the country,” explained Brogan.
Brogan said that the state system is working very hard to ensure that they can to allow any faculty being affected by the retrenchment to maintain employment, perhaps relocating them to another university.
The new chancellor also commented on the importance of having a strong general education approach and on programming at the state schools in his briefing.
“We need to put emphasis on our general education track,” he said.
In regards to programming, Brogan noted that from the information he examined over the past five years, 158 programs were put on moratorium (a postponement of functioning), 40 of which had no students enrolled.
“Our universities need to stop offering programs with low or no demand.” Brogan said. However, “stop offering programs” does not necessarily mean eliminating them.
Offering a solution to low or no demand programs, Brogan cited reorganizing the programs, wanting to “make sure that [the programs] are current; make sure they are productive and efficient going forward.”
“Each of the PASSHE universities has unique strengths that must not only be preserved, but also enhanced.” Brogan said. “Each is striving to find the right balance between existing and new programs, and finding sufficient resources to support growth areas.”
However, he also stressed the importance of embracing the State System as an entity along with the individual universities. Brogan aims to place high importance on not just having developing plans within each University, but for the entire State System.
“An academic change made at Clarion is going to be felt at East Stroudsburg whether East Stroudsburg knows it or not. All of those changes are going to impact our system and our commonwealth.”