Recent increase of presidential appointments in PASSHE universities reflect nationwide trend

Published by , Author: Hannah Shumsky - Rocket Contributor , Date: April 19, 2018

As Dr. William Behre will become the new president of SRU on July, he will be joined by Dr. Daniel Wubah and John Pignatello, who will become the presidents of Millersville University and Lock Haven University on that same day.

Three other PASSHE universities—Clarion, Mansfield and Edinboro—have interim presidents while a search is conducted for new presidents for the three universities. Millersville University currently doesn’t have an interim president since the current president, Dr. John Anderson, will remain in his position until June 30 when Wubah, who was also a finalist in SRU’s presidential search, takes over that position.

In a presidential search process, a search committee is formed that will develop the criteria for that specific university’s next president.

“Each university is different, but the search committee is responsible for essentially developing a job description,” Kenn Marshall, spokesperson for PASSHE, said. “Each university is unique, so that job description is going to look a little different at each school.”

Ultimately, the search committee will send two candidates to the Board of Governors, who will then select the next president.

The selection of a president for each university is becoming increasingly important as all PASSHE universities, except for SRU and West Chester University, have faced an enrollment decline. According to Marshall, more than two-thirds of the four-year colleges in Pennsylvania have seen an enrollment decline since 2010.

“This is a challenge facing not only our universities, but virtually every university in Pennsylvania is facing that challenge, and very few have been able to maintain their enrollments over the last half dozen or so years,” Marshall said.

According to Marshall, the number of searches for presidents within the past two years has been greater than normal and reflects a nationwide trend that the average time served by university presidents is shrinking. While the average tenure a decade ago for a president was eight or nine years, that value today is closer to five years.

“The pressures of a presidency are enormous, and you’re seeing more turnover among the ranks of university presidents across the board not just in our system, but in all of higher education,” Marshall said.

Currently, two presidents at PASSHE universities are tied for the most time spent in their respective positions: Dr. Marcia Welsh of East Stroudsburg University and Dr. Michael Driscoll of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Both Welsh and Driscoll began as presidents in July 2012.

In addition to new presidential appointments and searches, PASSHE is in progress of finding a new chancellor. According to Marshall, interviews are underway with the hope that the Board of Governors will select a new chancellor by early May , who will then take office by the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year.

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Hannah is a senior secondary English education major and communication minor entering her third year on The Rocket staff and her second year as editor-in-chief. Previously, she served as assistant news editor and covered Student Government Association affairs. After graduation, she hopes to teach English, communications and journalism to high school students. Hannah has won numerous awards for her writing and design work with The Rocket and was named SRU's Student Leader of the Year in 2020. Outside of The Rocket, Hannah is also part of WSRU-TV, Sigma Tau Delta and the Honors College.


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