Pennsylvania looks to nonprofit for recommendations on consolidations, closure
- Representatives from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) will meet with officials from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education this month to begin a statewide tour of its member institutions, aimed at launching an assessment of possible closures and mergers among its 14 colleges and universities.
- NCHEMS officials say that the likelihood of consolidations and closures is rare in higher ed, but when it does happen, it is typically a result of political will more than financial necessity. In Pennsylvania, higher ed officials have publicly considered merger options for campuses like Cheyney University and West Chester University, two schools at opposite ends of the growth and enrollment spectrum.
- The $400,000 study is a response from officials to redress its higher ed spending in light of a dwindling population.
Higher education officials in Pennsylvania are looking at states like Georgia, which several years ago adopted principles of consolidation to address issues of population loss, workforce development trends and cost-saving initiatives. But some mergers do not always yield desired results for spending efficiencies, and some efforts could violate constitutional law when it comes to historic disparities in investment or support between predominantly white and historically black institutions, for which Pennsylvania has been criticized in previous years.
Some considerations for institutional and system leaders to avoid litigation or criticism could be to study collaborative programs and shared services which can offer savings while preserving institutional identities and mission for a wide range of needs for students.