MANSFIELD — Chancellor Dan Greenstein of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education spoke at an open forum Monday, Nov. 11, hosted by Mansfield University, to discuss the system redesign that will take place between the 13 state schools of Pennsylvania.
It presented an opportunity for those affected by a system redesign such as professors, students and members of the public to not only be informed about the plans and effects of redesign, but also to have the opportunity to ask questions.
One of the main topics of discussion during the forum was the implementation of shared systems as a way to attempt to effectively drive costs.
“We are making some really interesting progress, thinking of ways to share systems,” Greenstein said.
During the forum, Greenstein implemented a number of text-based “culture surveys” to indicate the overall feeling of the audience in regards to the systems in place and the support they receive in regards to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The surveys will be distributed to the universities next year in order to evaluate effective changes at an individual university level moving forward.
Another topic of discussion was the sharing of resources between universities and the idea to possibly share courses between universities to give students a wider range of options and majors while attending specific state schools. Access and opportunity in education seemed to be a point stressed in the redesign efforts of Chancellor Greenstein.
Mansfield University will face new problems in the future that administrators will need to prepare for now.
“Ninety percent of your (Mansfield University) students are high school graduates directly attending college,” Greenstein said about enrollment at the university.
The population of high school graduates immediately entering college by 2025 will see a 15% decrease due to the demographics, he said. Greenstein discussed the importance of being able to adjust to the changing demographics to be able to procure students from different walks of life other than the traditional student straight from high school.
A concern of some of the audience members was the demolition of residential halls that are currently vacant, and what financial impact it would have compared to not tearing them down.
“Spending $25 million in capital funds which we have on demolitions saves us $8 million a year. So you get your money back in three, call it four years,” Greenstein replied.
The redesign initiative is still in the planning stages on how to make things work to be beneficial to individual universities. With a changing climate in the student demographic in the future, it is a step in the right direction to figuring out ways to benefit universities, especially rural ones such as Mansfield, he said.