Dr. Dan Greenstein spent the first day of his seventh week as chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) at SRU on Monday.
Greenstein was appointed as chancellor during the eighth consecutive year of a system-wide enrollment decline. As of the 15th day of the fall 2018 semester, the total enrollment is 98,094 students, a 4.11 percent decrease from last year’s enrollment of 102,301.
In an open forum in the Smith Student Center Theatre, Greenstein described the PASSHE tuition increases and enrollment declines as issues with technical fixes.
“In my view, these are all technical issues,” Greenstein said. “I believe we have the creativity and expertise to [institute technical fixes].”
According to Greenstein, the biggest challenge of PASSHE is not the technical issues, though. It is instead the culture of the system.
“From my early observations, that culture is one that’s defined by distrust between management and staff, between universities and the system [and] between trustees and board members,” Greenstein explained. “It involves eye-rolling, comments made by one group at the expense of another [and] a dearth of active listening and the kind of listening that you do when you really want to understand where another person is coming from.”
Greenstein said that from his experiences on Monday, he saw SRU as an exception to the cultural norms at other PASSHE universities.
“What can we learn from your experience that we can transport to other places where this is very much the norm?” Greenstein inquired.
Greenstein sees the system redesign as an opportunity to reset the culture of the state system through inclusive conversation and “honest, transparent and data-informed discussion.”
A system-wide review of the state system, published in July 2017, is now serving as a basis for a system redesign. According to the PASSHE redesign website, the Board of Governors established three priorities for the redesign: ensuring student success, leveraging university strengths and transforming the leadership/governance structure.
Concerning the definition of student success specifically, the Board of Governors will be asked to define student success in January 2019.
“We need to know the measure,” Greenstein stated. “It’s not about the data, but it’s about the conversation.”
Based on the university strategies determined by these conversations, Greenstein anticipates the goal-setting process to begin in 2019.
“Once we figure those things out, we can begin to set goals,” Greenstein concluded.
Before the open forum, Greenstein rode in a cycling tour of Slippery Rock with the Triathlon Club Monday morning. After the ride, he was greeted by the Marching Pride in the Smith Student Center. Prior to his visit to SRU, Greenstein visited Millersville, Shippensburg, Mansfield and Lock Haven Universities as part of his initiative to visit all 14 PASSHE universities.
— SRU Marching Pride (@Marching_Pride) October 15, 2018