By Shelby Levan
On Sept. 20, members of the KU community gathered in the Alumni Auditorium to hear from Dr. Daniel Greenstein, the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), in an open forum regarding the future of the system.
Greenstein began his introduction to those in attendance by outlining his passion for higher education.
“I do this because college higher education is a pathway to social mobility. It’s probably one of the most reliable. I do this because, without a strong higher education sector, it’s impossible for me to understand how we can continue to maintain a strong economy,” said Greenstein.
He made sure to also highlight the importance of all jobs in Pennsylvania’s economy, especially jobs that do not require a college education.
“I’m not saying that everyone needs to go to college. Pennsylvania is kind of a unique state in a variety of ways because it has a very strong agriculture, manufactur[ing] and public transportation sector,” said Greenstein.
When addressing the issue of economics within the nation he said, “We need to work at the equity issue if we’re going to solve our economic one.” Greenstein thinks this can be achieved by making college more accessible for everyone.
He wasn’t afraid to be straightforward with his audience stating, “There’s a vastly higher number of new jobs, virtually all of which require some college. It’s true nationally, that if you are rich you are five times more likely to go to college by the age of 24 than if you are poor. Five times, that’s not acceptable. If you are black or brown, the numbers look more or less like that when you compare them to white.”
He continued, “Colleges and universities are one of the last places in this country where people from very different walks of life and different backgrounds with different perspectives can engage with each other and learn in an experiential way about things like tolerance, which is sorely lacking in our political and our civil society. In that regard, for me, higher education is about social justice.”
In an effort of making college more affordable for everyone is freezing tuition, “The board took a tuition action in July, freezing tuition for students, which is absolutely the right thing to do,” Greenstein added. “We cannot continue to put the cost burden on our students.”
The PASSHE redesign project, which started less than a year ago, includes engaging in transparent and open dialogue with faculty, sharing academic programming and improving student enrollment.
Greenstein’s visit ended with a Q&A, which allowed faculty and staff to dispel rumors and clear up uncertainties with how to move forward with the redesign.