Clarion University president Karen M. Whitney was selected to serve as interim chancellor for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), following Frank T. Brogan’s retirement.
Whitney will start her tenure as interim chancellor Sept. 12.
In a PASSHE press release released on Aug. 4, Board of Governors (BoG) Chair Cynthia D. Shapira said that Whitney provided strong, steady leadership at Clarion, and will be able to continue success as chancellor.
“We are grateful that Karen has agreed to serve in this vital role at this important time, and we know that will help us continue the evolution of our system to be of highest impact,” Shapira said in the press release.
Whitney had previously announced that she would retire as Clarion’s president in June 2018, but will instead leave in September to serve as chancellor.
In the same press release, Whitney said she was honored for the opportunity to be chancellor.
“Let me be clear, the reason I accepted the board’s invitation to serve in this role is because I completely- 100 percent, believe in this system and that every university in it is vital for this Commonwealth to be successful,” Whitney said.
Kenn Marshall, spokesman for the state system, said the role of chancellor was vital and the BoG was quick to have someone to serve after Brogan’s retirement.
Marshall said a search for a permanent replacement for Brogan will take about six months, but Whitney may serve in the position for up to a year.
“Once the selection is made, it may take him or her some time to finish up a year where they were before they can arrive here,” Marshall said. “I think the hope is that the search will start this fall and hopefully by late spring they’ll complete the search and have the selection made and have that person start at the beginning of the fiscal year or certainly by the beginning of the next academic year, in either July or August.”
Marshall compared the chancellor position to that of a CEO, with the BoG still the overall authority in terms of approving the budget, tuition and policies, with the chancellor helping to guide them.
Marshall said Whitney was mainly chosen because the BoG felt the need to have someone who is familiar with the state system.
In a press release also released on August 4, Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF) President Kenneth M. Mash said that he had already received numerous calls and emails following the announcement of Whitney as interim chancellor, with members of APSCUF worried about the selection, mainly in regards to Clarion faculty having concerns with Whitney’s leadership. Mash said regardless of the calls, he still looks forward to meeting with Whitney to create a healthy working relationship.
“We all hope that we can quickly turn the page and that Dr. Whitney will soon reach out to all constituencies and display the sensible, respectful, strong, and intelligent leadership that our System requires,” Mash said.
Ben Shaevitz, president of the SRU chapter of APSCUF and physics professor, said that he hopes for more collaboration than what is currently mandated by the contract between APSCUF and PASSHE.
“We feel like we really have a lot at stake so it’s important to us to participate in the process of guiding the system forward,” Shaevitz said. “We’ll give it a shot.”
Shaevitz said the report that was released in the summer expressed a need for more collaboration and that he would be happy to participate at a local level.