Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania (PRWEB) February 21, 2014
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."¹
In it, he describes how PASSHE’s 100% political leadership has watched the privatization—i.e., rapid defunding by the State—of the 14 universities since 2002 without committing to a viable plan for preserving and delivering PASSHE’s statutory purpose: “High quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students,” as called for by law in Act 188.²
The book describes what a lack of planning has been doing to students and 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, PASSHE’s failure to deliver on Act 188’s promise to the students, parents and alumni donors—who now pay 75% of the operating budgets at the 14 schools—was inevitable for the following reason: PASSHE has not committed itself publicly to a viable plan for preserving that purpose. Rather, according to Armenti, PASSHE leaders continue to avoid mentioning that purpose, whether it is on the PASSHE website, in public pronouncements by leaders, or now in PASSHE’s latest strategic plan.ᶟ
“After failing to commit publicly to PASSHE’s statutory purpose, is anyone surprised at PASSHE’s failure to deliver it,” Armenti asked?
According to Armenti, compelling evidence for PASSHE’s failure to plan may be seen in the following facts which are documented on the PASSHE Board of Governors’ website and in the book: 1) PASSHE operated without a strategic plan between 2009 (when its previous plan expired) and January 2014, when its new strategic plan was announced; 2) PASSHE has not promulgated a Factbook⁴ on which planning efforts might be based since 2011; and 3) PASSHE leaders have not acted to preserve or deliver PASSHE’s statutory purpose as enrollments grew by 58% and State funding/FTE student fell by 50%.⁵
Armenti notes that PASSHE’s new strategic plan (2014) makes no mention of PASSHE’s statutory purpose from Act 188: “Its purpose shall be to provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.” According to Merriam-Webster the word ‘shall,’ when used in laws, means a directive “to express what is mandatory.” Regrettably, the Board of Governors did not see fit to include this legal directive from Act 188 into its recent “Strategic Plan 2020: Rising to the Challenge.”
Armenti also notes that “While PASSHE’s new strategic plan includes a strategic goal referring to ‘academic program excellence and relevance,’ it totally ignores the Act 188 directive of high quality education ‘at the lowest possible cost to the students.’ Avoiding any public mention of that half of PASSHE’s statutory purpose clearly suggests that the current 100% political leadership of the PASSHE Board of Governors has no intention of even trying to achieve it, an abdication of responsibility with staggering negative repercussions for 112,000 current and future PASSHE students.”
Privatization Without a Plan documents a 58% increase in student enrollment (from 71,091 to 112,180 students) combined with a 50% decrease in State appropriation per student (from $7,386 to $3,679 in constant dollars). According to Armenti, these conflicting 30-year trends illustrate the dilemma faced by the PASSHE universities (more and more students to educate and fewer and fewer State dollars with which to educate them), and the PASSHE students (higher and higher levels of student loan debt as State funding keeps eroding, and the directive ‘at the lowest possible cost to the students’ is ignored).
“As more and more students seek the promise of public higher education in Pennsylvania—high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students—the State is seen shifting more and more of the cost of education to the students and parents themselves, negating the very concept of ‘public’ in the term ‘public higher education,’” Armenti said.
¹Privatization 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.
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/.