In New Book, Armenti Claims Students, Parents and Donors Fund 75% of PASSHE Budget but Control 0% of PASSHE Governance Seats, While the State Funds 25% and Controls 100%

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Angelo Armenti, Jr., the former Villanova University Dean and 20-year President of California University (Cal U), recently announced the release of his new book, Privatization Without a Plan: A Failure of Leadership in Pennsylvania Public Higher Education.* In it he criticizes the great disparity between the respective funding and governance shares of students, parents and donors, versus those of the State.

Privatization Without a Plan

As far as funding is concerned, according to the book, the PASSHE universities are already 75% private.

The new book, Privatization Without a Plan: A Failure of Leadership in Pennsylvania Public Higher Education, describes what author Angelo Armenti, Jr. alleges has been happening at the 14 PASSHE universities in Pennsylvania, which include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.

According to the book, when the PASSHE system first began in FY 1984, the State share of the PASSHE budget was 63%, and the Tuition+Fees+Other share was 37%; but the State became the ‘minority’ stakeholder in FY 1993 when its share of the university operating budgets first fell below 50%.

But In the 21 years since falling below the 50% threshold, the State share of PASSHE’s budget has plummeted to 25%, while the share provided through Tuition+Fees+Other revenue by the ‘majority’ stakeholders—the students, parents and donors, primarily alumni—shot up to 75%, Armenti said.

As far as funding is concerned, according to the book, the PASSHE universities are already 75% private.

The book also cites as disturbing the fact that the State of Pennsylvania in the person of its elected and appointed officials—the minority stakeholder providing 25% of the annual funding—continues to fill 100% of the 20 seats on the Board of Governors and the 154 seats on the 14 Councils of Trustees while, at the same time, the majority stakeholders who now provide 75% of PASSHE’s annual funding get to fill 0% of the seats on the PASSHE Board of Governors and the 14 Councils of Trustees.

“This is an egregious example of ‘privatization without representation’ and for that reason alone should not and must not be permitted to continue,” Armenti said, “and for the past 21 years and for every day it continues into the future, it represents an embarrassing stain on the honor of the elected and appointed officials as well as the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Between 1984 and 2013 as the State share of the PASSHE operating budgets fell from 63% to 25%, according to the book, one always heard the following rebuttal from our elected officials: ‘Yes, but the State paid for all the buildings.’

That claim, Armenti said, has become increasingly hollow since 1984 as the State has continued to shed responsibility for the capital costs of the ‘State-owned’ universities, even as PASSHE incurs massive capital debt, 75% of whose debt service the State can now totally avoid, having shifted it onto the majority stakeholders.

According to its FY 2012 audited financial statements† PASSHE owes an outstanding balance of $941.7 million for debt-financed capital projects on the 14 campuses. “This means that PASSHE is now totally responsible for capital projects that, in years past, were paid for entirely by the State,” Armenti said.

“This is another example of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the minority stakeholder in the PASSHE universities, shedding more and more of the actual costs of public higher education and shifting them onto the majority stakeholders—even when it comes to the buildings on the campuses—buildings that are increasingly built and paid for with funds that come from the private checkbooks of students, parents and donors, primarily alumni,” Armenti said.    

*Privatization Without a Plan: A Failure of Leadership in Pennsylvania Public Higher Education is on sale now, available from Amazon.com in paperback and e-book. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=angelo%20armenti.

http://www.passhe.edu/inside/anf/accounting/Financial%20Statements/PASSHE%20Financial%20Statements,%20June%2030,%202012.pdf.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Angelo Armenti Jr. served as President of California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) from 1992 to 2012. Before that, he was a Dean at Villanova University, a professor of physics, and author of The Physics of Sports (American Institute of Physics, 1992). During his career at Cal U, Armenti is credited with establishing numerous funding sources for student scholarships and for campus revitalization projects, efforts made in part to address the problems that he describes in Privatization Without a Plan. In June of 2012, Armenti founded a non-profit corporation entitled The Pennsylvania Association of State Colleges and Universities (PASCU) whose mission it is to preserve the purpose of public higher education in Pennsylvania. He also writes for his weekly blog at http://angeloarmenti.blogspot.com/.

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Angelo Armenti, Jr.
PASCU
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