PA Higher Education Mired in Past, Substantial Reform Needed, Hickernell Says
HARRISBURG – The Senate and House Education committees held a joint hearing today focusing on the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Strategic System Review, said Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) and Rep. Dave Hickernell (R-Lancaster), chairmen of the respective committees.

Over the past year, the state system hired the National Center on Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) to examine the current system and to provide recommendations for changes. As part of today’s hearing, members of the committees asked important questions related to their concerns about the report after hearing from university presidents, the chancellor’s office, and the faculty union.

“The universities are trapped in a system where they are unable to enact efficiencies, redesign their programs, or collaborate with outside interests to improve their institutions because of their union contracts. The universities that are financially stable are forced to pay the bills of the failing schools in their system, leaving few resources and even fewer options to make their universities better. Without substantial change, the system, under its current structure, is unsustainable for the long term,” said Eichelberger.

Hickernell said the facts and testimony led him to similar conclusions.

“There are many elements to the current operations of the state system that significantly hamper the ability of the individual universities to react and respond to changing fiscal realities and higher education trends,” Hickernell said. “It was also made clear from the testimony today that, without some significant changes, mandates stemming from union contracts and other system-wide and local regulations will continue to be impediments to our state-owned universities as they look to be innovative and successfully compete with other institutions across the Commonwealth’s various sectors of higher education.”

Representative Dave Hickernell
98th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Charles Lardner