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President's Blog - April 2013 - CU Transforming to Produce A Quality Education for the 21st Century

April 29, 2013

In the last few years, funding has receded rather drastically at both the federal and state levels for public higher education. While these reductions in funding are disturbing, they foretell transformations and opportunities that are evolving in higher education for the foreseeable future. Like many other industries, higher education must transition towards meeting the unprecedented 21st century workforce and lifestyle needs of a broader spectrum of Americans.

Without a doubt, Cheyney University must continue to produce responsible and contributing citizens who add to the intellectual capital of the Commonwealth and nation by pursuing graduate school, adding to the diversity in the law and other professions, demonstrating creativity in entrepreneurial ventures, pursuing public service agendas, furnishing quality business services, and adding to intellectual capital in ways not yet imagined.
 
Unfortunately, some of our talented students have been forced to drop out to earn a living to support themselves and their families. Our families are still struggling through one of the deepest recessions in our nation—sometimes compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s. At Cheyney University, we are affected adversely by the financial stresses of our families through reduction in enrollments and students dropping out to help their families earn a living.
 
Without a doubt, alumni have been extraordinarily supportive in raising scholarship funds for students. Faculty members have also aggressively sought grants to support the teaching and learning environments. However, even with this support and the growing support of private donors, enrollment trends have not corresponded with increasing expenditures. In fact, enrollment trends in Pennsylvania for high school graduates further predict reductions in college enrollments.
 
Thus, in order to strengthen Cheyney University for its future, the University is reviewing carefully many of its processes and services including enrollment management, financial aid, and other student services—looking for ways to interact more strategically with potential students. We are also reviewing our academic programs and customer service to students, so that we will improve our competitive place in the Commonwealth and national marketplace.
 
Furthermore, in order to bring our revenue in line with our expenditures, we will be seeking recommendations on cost-savings from all areas of the University community and engage in our annual budget hearings.
 
In April 2014, Cheyney University undergoes its ten-year reaffirmation of accreditation by Middle States Association to ensure that the University is capable of carrying out its mission and that it is responding appropriately to an agenda of continuous improvement.
 
It is essential to note that the path forward must embrace the aforementioned realities of the higher education community in the Commonwealth, region, and nation.
 
Please feel free to provide comments or recommendations for cost savings or innovations to Chief of Staff Sheilah Vance (svance@cheyney.edu) or me (mvital@cheyney.edu).
 
Sincerely,
 
Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
President
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania