Senate Education Committee Holds Joint Hearing on Study of State-Owned Universities System

Hearing Agenda & Written Testimony

HARRISBURG (April 30, 2018) – Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr., (R-Blair) led a joint hearing of the Senate and House Education Committees today to closely examine a troubling new report on the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

“The RAND Corporation’s study provides an opportunity for the General Assembly to further analyze the PASSHE system,” said Senator Eichelberger.  “PASSHE’s financial situation is dire, and time is running out.  We have to take action this year to protect current and future students before this entire system of higher education fails.”

The non-partisan RAND Corporation was hired by the state Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct the study after a study commissioned by PASSHE fell short of expectations.

Dr. Charles Goldman, Senior Economist for the RAND Corporation, gave the bulk of the testimony.  He provided information to support the results of the report, which discussed the factors causing the system to deteriorate and made recommendations on what can be done to improve the long-term sustainability and viability of the universities in the PASSHE system.

Challenges include the expensive and restrictive faculty labor agreement, long-term demographic shifts, strong competition, limited state funding, and internal bureaucracies that are poorly designed for adapting to these challenges.  It was clear that maintaining the status quo and simply increasing state funding would not solve the problems.

The RAND report offered five possible options that could address those challenges.  They ranged from minor structural changes in the State System to merging universities into larger regional facilities to placing these universities under the management of Penn State, Pitt, Temple, or Lincoln Universities.

The RAND report will help legislators decide how to better structure this system or dissolve it altogether and provide alternative educational opportunities for students across the Commonwealth.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Andrew Armagost, Senate Education Committee Assistant Executive Director, at 717-787-5490 or aarmagost@pasen.gov, or Patrick Schurr, Executive Assistant, at 866-509-3424 or pschurr@pasen.gov.