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New PASSHE Chancellor Visits Cheyney Campus

October 30, 2013

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CU's student government president, Malik Williams, meets Chancellor Frank T. Brogan during his visit to Cheyney University

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Since his arrival in Harrisburg, PA this month, Frank T. Brogan, the fourth Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), has made a point of scheduling visits to all of the universities in the PASSHE system.      

“My first priority is to know the system – get out and rattle around it," Chancellor Brogan said while making his first visit to Cheyney University of Pennsylvania October 30. "This is my third official campus visit – I’ve already been to Clarion and IUP and hope to get to Edinboro before it gets snowed in. I expect to have seen all campuses by December 12. Pennsylvania is an extraordinarily beautiful state,” he noted.

The Chancellor, who originally hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, says he always knew that he wanted to be a teacher and that a college degree would be required. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, he took a teaching job in Florida which led to impressive accomplishments in the field including serving as President of Florida Atlantic ,University, Lieutenant Governor of Florida, Florida’s Commissioner of Education, and Chancellor of Florida’s 335,000-student public university system.

For the last month, though, his mind has only been on the PASSHE system.  “I am impressed by the heavy emphasis on undergraduate education in the PASSHE system," Chancellor Brogan acknowledged. "Not to knock graduate education and research, but it is critical that we be grounded in a strong undergraduate system.  The number of public and private universities in Pennsylvania is extraordinary. Now, each of us needs to find our niche in the market and address ways to become the destination point and identify the way we are unique.”

As a result of his experiences in Florida, Chancellor Brogan appreciates the uniqueness of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and also recognizes their special challenges.  “What’s the HBCU niche if kids of color can go anywhere?" he wondered out loud.  "Because of the changing world, they can go anywhere they want.  We have to figure that out together, what the role of the HBCUs will be.”

Chancellor Brogan cited the importance of education in the state as it transitions from a rust-belt economy to a knowledge-based economy.  “This is the time to make a commitment to the people of the Commonwealth to educate them," he said.

“It’s time to step up and define the Cheyney we want to be," the Chancellor acknowledged. "This will require difficult decisions and to be willing to look at the future of Cheyney.  It’s a chance to branch the programs out.  When I came to PASSHE, I took on all 14 universities and they are all my children--every one is equally important to each other and to the State System.  Failure is not an option, but we must be bold," he exclaimed. "I don’t have all the answers. The System will work with CU through all the (particulars). Each University needs to decide what their niche will be and talk to each other.  We can’t be siloed."

Chancellor Brogan met first with CU President Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital and then with her Cabinet. He also met with faculty, staff and students who gathered in Vaux-Logan Auditorium for an hour-long session where he opened up and spoke candidly.  “I’m a 'potential' guy and the potential in this system is awesome," he told them.  "We need strategic planning on a system-wide basis so that we will be better aligned and better equipped to take on the next 50 years. Behind that, there are a lot of people who will roll up their sleeves and assist Cheyney University.  Cheyney is unique among all the other schools in our system and this should be part of the new university vision.  The future Cheyney University can hang strongly on the history of the system.  We need to remind people of how important Cheyney University is.  Looking 50 years ahead, Cheyney University needs to rededicate for the 22nd century.  Our vision needs to be prepared for the 22nd century."

When it comes to available resources for the PASSHE schools, the Chancellor said the way  to ask for money has to change.  He went on to explain that we need budget increases as well as seed funding that would enable universities to expand or start important programs aligned with their niche.  According to Chancellor Brogan, PASSHE has increased STEM programs, now the largest of all programs in the system, but he feels that it is important to support the arts and education programs, too. He suggested that the State System should complement STEM education with a strong General Education program that would prepare students for a variety of careers and opportunities of benefit to the Commonwealth.

“Eighty percent of graduates stay in the Commonwealth. PASSHE graduates make up the bedrock of workers in the Commonwealth.  We are asking for funds to change their lives and to change the future of the Commonwealth. We’re up to the challenge," he told the crowd.

Before leaving campus, the Chancellor toured the property, including the Aquaponics facility where tilapia are raised and basil is grown, a public/private venture that is one of Cheyney University's niches.

PASSHE is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 112,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. Statistics show that about half a million PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

 

The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and the Philadelphia Multi University Center in Philadelphia, where Cheyney University has programs.