By Kaylee Lindenmuth
On Oct. 16 and 17, KU hosted the quarterly meeting of the 20-member board that oversees the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
The board holds at least one meeting out of four each year at one of its universities, and this quarter, the meeting was held in the multipurpose room of the McFarland Student Union.
During the Oct. 16 meeting, Chair Cynthia Shapira described the state system redesign as “a complete cultural change” and “the most important and exciting and difficult work [she’s] ever done.”
She outlined efforts to create a “sharing system.”
“It’s going to require a cultural change among all of us and how we think about our universities, which have individual identities and are also part of a system,” said Shapira. “The point of which is to benefit the greatest number of students through the ability to work collaboratively.”
Chancellor Dan Greenstein said that threats to the health of the universities are now “impossible to be addressed at the university level.”
“They must be addressed systematically. They need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, and they need to be addressed courageously,” said Greenstein, “because they will force us to set aside everything that we have learned and to relearn again what it means to lead in higher education.”
Greenstein described that the development of the system redesign plan will “develop a system that doesn’t just survive into the 2020s but thrives in the 21st century.”
Some of the plans discussed at the meeting related to the system redesign pertained to the development of a “shared services consortium,” which would provide “common services, systems and expertise… across the system.” Services under the consortium would include Information Technology.
The board discussed a request for funding from the Commonwealth to support the redesign efforts, planning to ask for $100 million over five years.
Shapira said she believes the number isn’t enough and asked for $300 million.
State Representative Brad Roae (R-Crawford County), who also serves on the board, expressed concerns that such a high number might not be approved by the state legislature.
“I fully embrace the $100 million that was talked about previously. I really think my colleagues in the legislature would go along with that,” said Roae. “$300 million, I’m just afraid that with such a big number a lot of legislators won’t even hear what you’re saying when you’re talking to them.”
Vice Chair David Maser asked the representative if the legislator could bind themselves to a multi-year allocation, to which Roae said no. Maser then questioned the point of asking for a five-year allocation.
During the Oct. 17 meeting, the request was approved at a total of $100 million over five years. Greenstein and the state system executive board can decide how much to request for each year.