As part of the ongoing State System Redesign, Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities are gaining momentum in the planned integration process of the three universities into one accredited entity.
According to an FAQ page on Lock Haven University's website, "The State System’s mission is to provide affordable, high-quality public higher education across the Commonwealth, and this approach is designed to bolster that mission.
"At a time when universities across the country are financially challenged, it’s incumbent upon the State System to creatively ensure that its institutions are open, vibrant, and centered on student success. The goals of an integrations approach are to maintain or expand high-quality educational opportunities for students across the state, position institutions for growth, and meet regional economic and workforce needs."
Recently both Lock Haven University and Bloomsburg issued the following statement:
Centered on student success, our shared vision is to expand affordable high-quality educational opportunities for students, to position institutions for growth, and to meet regional economic and workforce needs across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At a time when universities across the country, including our own, are financially challenged, integration will ensure that our institutions are open, vibrant, and centered on student success long into the future.
Exploring the Northeast Integration of Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities continues. Integration will be a bold investment in the communities and people of Northeastern Pennsylvania that will allow all three institutions to continue sustainably fulfilling their missions.
To do this, we will retain our unique traits specific to our campuses and communities, while coming together to become something bigger and stronger. We will stand stronger together, while continuing to stand out and be forever prideful as Huskies, Mounties, and Bald Eagles.
Through integration we are committed to:
- Preserving Yesterday: We will preserve the founding principles of each campus and the communities we serve.
- Adapting to Today: We will answer the greatest challenges facing higher education: access, cost, opportunity, quality, and relevance.
- Building a Stronger Tomorrow: We will change the trajectory of public higher education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and will enhance the value of degrees from Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities.
Virtual Town Hall raises awareness of issues
Not everyone is pleased with the idea of the merger, however.
The exact details of the consolidated curriculum, shared enrollment strategies, one single administration, one faculty body etc. have not been finalized nor have they been shared with students and faculty, though PASSHE plans to submit its preliminary implementation plan to the Board of Governors for approval in early April, according to a news release from members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
Professor Peter Campbell, chair of the Sports Studies department and the president of LHU’s faculty union noted that “the concern is, that as of now, we still have no plan on the table to review and evaluate. The devil may be in the details."
Along with the proposed consolidation, Lock Haven University is planning its second round of faculty layoffs this spring.
"In total, LHU will lose 65 professors reducing our faculty by 30%. This reduction will greatly challenge the ability of the remaining faculty to provide quality educational experiences to our students,” noted Campbell.
In addition to the list of majors and programs that were cut in fall 2020, LHU plans to cut even more programs before the projected consolidation takes effect, according to the release. Campbell noted that “the reductions in staff in other university areas is also a great concern in our ability to deliver a quality educational experience” for Lock Haven University students.
The Lock Haven University Association of PA State College and University Faculties (LHU APSCUF) is sponsoring a Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Alumni to discuss the consolidation or merger, how alumni can help, future of campus if consolidation occurs, program closures, future of sports, and how limited face-to-face classes could be expanded for future students on Tuesday, April 27, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The free Town Hall Meeting can be accessed on Zoom with the meeting ID# 977 1143 0089. For alumni new to zoom visit https://zoom.us/join.
A rally was held in March in Lock Haven to protest the proposed elimination of over 50 jobs at Lock Haven University.
PASSHE Board of Governors’ approved timeline
“The data and the analysis are showing clearly that the path forward on integrations will mean greater student opportunity in regions critical to Pennsylvania’s economy,” Chancellor Dan Greenstein said back in October 202 when the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education unanimously approved exploration of the integration.
“As we strive to hold our place as the affordable public higher education option, we must continue to think and act boldly so that any Pennsylvanian, regardless of zip code, can continue their education at a State System university,” said Greenstein.
The timeline set forth by the Board of Governors is as follows:
July 2020 – April 2021
Conduct a review of the financial stability of System universities assuming the continuation of present operations and potential university integrations and develop an integration plan or plans for candidate integrations identified by the review.
More than 500 students, faculty, staff, trustees, and community leaders have been actively participating in the Northeast Integration planning.
April 2021 – July 2021
The BOG will submit integration plan or plans for public comment (April 2021) and submit integration plan for final approval by the Board (July 2021).
After the April meeting on April 28, there will be a 60-day period of public comment.
The 8:30 a.m. meeting will be held remotely and recorded for later public viewing. Members of the public who want to offer public comment during the meeting are asked to dial 1-646-558-8586 and use meeting ID 979-8079-6196. Once connected, press *9 to indicate a desire to speak.
July 2021 – August 2022
The Board will study the public response to the consolidation to make its final implementation plans projected for as early as July 2021. The first cohort of students are expected to enroll in the consolidated universities in fall 2022.