HARRISBURG – A package of broad reforms to protect the future of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) was signed into law today, according to Senator Scott Martin (R-13).
Act 50 of 2020 will assist PASSHE’s efforts to redesign its system in the wake of considerable financial and enrollment pressures that existed even before the COVID-19 pandemic and have been made worse by the temporary closing of all 14 system schools due to concerns about student health.
The law gives the PASSHE Board of Governors the power to create, expand, consolidate, transfer or affiliate member schools. The goal is to ensure all schools in the system remain open and available to meet the needs of students, Martin said.
“This new law promotes the long-term viability of all schools in the system, protects access to an affordable education for Pennsylvania students, and ensures any changes to the system are completed with full transparency and accountability,” said Martin, who is a Millersville University graduate and serves on the PASSHE Board of Governors. “PASSHE schools have shown a strong willingness to work toward transforming the system to meet the educational needs of students and fill gaps in the workforce. This bill clears the way to transform the PASSHE system to better meet the evolving needs of students and employers.”
Any changes to schools in the system will require a thorough review of the institution and a detailed implementation plan from the PASSHE Chancellor. This includes holding at least two public hearings, consulting with faculty and other stakeholders, opening a public comment period and reporting quarterly to the General Assembly.
The new law also requires shared services among all member universities when the system can show savings and efficiencies, unless member schools opt out by a two-thirds vote of the Council of Trustees.
Martin and Senator Robert M. “Tommy” Tomlinson (R-6) have led PASSHE reform efforts in the Senate, including introducing similar legislation in the Senate and negotiating with stakeholders on the language in the new law. Senate Education Chairman Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne (R-16) also made critical contributions to the bill, as well as many university presidents and PASSHE staff.
As part of the new law, any changes to the system would need to be approved by the PASSHE Board of Governors within three years. The new law goes into effect immediately.
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535