Hanna: State System Board Keeps Tight Rein on Tuition

MONEY 5

$99-a-semester increase approved; LHU president’s contract extended

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Mike Hanna, a five-year member of the State System of Higher Education Board of Governors, said the panel was able to keep a tight lid on tuition at the 14 state universities it manages.

“Despite flat funding for the fourth consecutive year and operating with only slightly more revenue than we had 17 years ago, the board approved a modest 3 percent tuition increase, which mirrors the expected rate of inflation,” said Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre. “It is commendable that State System universities will remain the lowest-cost, four-year college option in the state.”

Hanna said the base tuition rate for full-time, resident undergraduate students attending any of the State System universities this fall will be $3,410 a semester, or $99 more than current rates, and $6,820 for the full academic year.

“The tight finances will require the schools to make additional reductions totaling about $30 million on top of the more than $250 million in savings achieved in recent years,” Hanna said. “However, a new allocation formula that I supported will provide Lock Haven University with an additional $781,000 over three years.”

Lock Haven University figured prominently in the Board of Governor’s deliberations.

“Lock Haven University President Michael Fiorentino Jr.’s contract was extended by three years through June 2017,” Hanna said. “And, I was able to second the motion to approve Lock Haven’s new associate of arts degree program in sustainability studies.”

Hanna said the sustainability program will enable Lock Haven and its Clearfield campus to produce graduates for “green” construction and manufacturing jobs as well as in government and with nonprofit organizations.

“Roughly one out of every five companies in Pennsylvania employ workers in green jobs that focus on sustainability,” Hanna said. “It is exciting that Lock Haven was able to forge the program from existing resources and by maximizing online distance-learning tools to be on the cutting edge of such programs.

“The unique interdisciplinary program focuses on adult workers outside of the traditional on?campus, residential student population,” Hanna said. “However, the program, which will utilize local resources such as the Beech Creek Watershed Association and Clinton

County CleanScapes, will provide a seamless transition into four-year degree programs at Lock Haven University.”

Hanna said as part of the board’s commitment to make the State System the most flexible, collaborative, and student-centered university system in America, it approved a proposal allowing Lock Haven to establish program specific instructional fees for certain studies.

“Lock Haven University will revise its undergraduate educational services fee to better reflect actual costs,” Hanna said. “It’s not an easy tightrope to walk, but the goal is to enhance the quality of State System programs while keeping a close eye on expenses.”

In other matters, the board of governors:

• Approved three-year contract extensions to university presidents at Bloomsburg, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Mansfield, Millersville, Slippery Rock and West Chester;

• Approved nine new flexible pricing plans for six universities, bringing to 18 the number of proposals that will be implemented on a pilot basis over the next two years; and

• Re-elected Guido M. Pichini of Wyomissing to a fourth consecutive term as its chairman. Laura E. Ellsworth of Sewickley and Ronald G. Henry of Bryn Mawr were re-elected vice chairs.

Hanna, one of only four state legislators appointed to the board, said the governors meet at least four times a year to set educational, fiscal and personnel policies for the State System of Higher Education, which is the largest provider of higher education in the state with about 112,000 students.

More information about the State System and the Board of Governors is available online at www.passhe.edu.

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