PASSHE consolidates 3 colleges in western PA

In early May 2021, the Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education (PASSHE) voted 17-2 in a two-hour special meeting to move forward into the public comment phase of a proposal to consolidate six state colleges / universities into three.

Out east, Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield would be combined into one school; and out west here it is Clarion, California and Edinboro that are set to be gutted.

Though the consolidation plan is well over 400 pages, it does appear to be mum on some of the finer details on big questions about this highly controversial move. What we can infer is that each of these consolidations will result in a brand new name, yet the individual athletic programs for each standalone school — as well as the physical locations themselves — will all be preserved. Though they will all be managed by one leadership team, faculty, and academic programs.

To put it lightly, this plan begs a lot of questions. Larger questions such as how many jobs will be lost and how much of this incorporates virtual learning, to more trivial things like where exactly will this leadership team will be located, who manages the athletic programs, and how much travel would this mean for some faculty and staff? Because the consolidations don’t appear to be regionally based. California University is a two hour plus drive to Edinboro.

As for the athletic programs, each individual campus — at least under the proposed plan which is far from final — is supposed to retain all of their current athletic programs. Though what is much less clear is how the NCAA feels about that somewhat bold claim from the architects of this plan (roughly 1,000 people associated with PASSHE) and if that would even be approved with potentially smaller enrollments now for each campus. What if the NCAA comes back and says no and that some athletic teams need to be eliminated? Then that little detail could potentially bring the entire consolidation plan into question and probably bring a lot more public comment.

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