Pennsylvania’s Insidious Funding/Governance Disparity Must Be Eradicated.
Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania (PRWEB) April 30, 2014
“Government” higher education has been defined as what students get when the State controls more than 50% of the governance seats, while providing less than 50% of the annual funding; Angelo Armenti, Jr., president of the Pennsylvania Association of State Colleges and Universities (PASCU), cites Pennsylvania as an extreme example for clinging to 100% control but providing only 25% of the funding.
“State-Related” higher education has been defined as what students get when the State controls less than 50% of the governance seats, while providing less than 50% of the annual funding. The transition from “Government” higher education to “State-Related” higher education requires no change in the funding patterns—both types of higher education feature a State share of funding that is less than 50%.
However, that transition does require a change in governance patterns, in which the State’s governance share is brought below 50% in order to match its funding share and meet the “State-Related” definition.
In his recent book¹ Privatization Without a Plan, Armenti identifies the “winners” and “losers” under Pennsylvania’s current “government” higher education status quo. The winners—i.e., those who benefit most from the current status quo—are the elected and appointed state officials for whom PASSHE is now aligned to produce maximum benefits, despite their being the minority (25%) financial stakeholder.
Armenti says the losers—i.e., those who benefit least from the current Pennsylvania status quo—are students, parents and donors, primarily alumni for whom PASSHE is now aligned to provide minimum benefits, despite their being the majority (75%) financial stakeholders.
Pennsylvania’s Insidious Funding/Governance Disparity Must Be Eradicated
According to the book, the source of the current “upside-down” situation just described—where the maximum benefits go to the minority financial stakeholder and the minimum benefits go to the majority financial stakeholders—is the great funding/governance disparity that exists in Pennsylvania “public” higher education.
"That the state, the minority (25%) financial stakeholder controls 100% of the governance seats, while the students, parents and alumni donors, the majority (75%) financial stakeholders control 0% of the governance seats, is tantamount to privatization without representation—which is another name for tyranny—an un-American travesty that the majority stakeholders must and will rise up and throw off," says Armenti.
The “upside-down” situation just described, says Armenti, will continue to be produced indefinitely by PASSHE unless and until its internal alignment is changed to a very different one—i.e., one that is aligned to produce maximum benefits to the majority financial stakeholders—the students, parents and alumni donors.
“All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo
According to Armenti, the fact that every status quo has its winners and losers means that changing any status quo, which typically results in switching the roles of winners and losers, will inevitably lead to battles of both ideas and wills. In changing PASSHE from an example of “Government” higher education to one of “State-Related” higher education, the Majority Stakeholders hold the moral high ground in terms of ideas, since they would be arguing in favor of “fair stakeholder representation,” namely, that those providing the largest share of funding should control the largest number of governance seats.
"As reasonable as that idea may be, we learn from history that certain monarchs believed they could rule their people as they wished, based on a doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, which held that monarchs derived their authority from God, and not from their subjects," says Armenti. "That such a doctrine is un-American is seen in the American Revolution, which was waged and won in order to throw off such obvious tyranny."
Unless it succeeded in asserting a Divine Right of Kings, the Minority Stakeholder, the state, in the person of its elected and appointed officials, would be left to try to defend an ethically and logically bankrupt status quo, in which the 25% financial stakeholder clings to 100% control of governance, observes Armenti.
As to the battle of wills, Armenti says the winners under the current “Government” higher education status quo—those for whom PASSHE is currently aligned to produce maximum benefits, despite their being a minority (25%) financial stakeholder—can be expected to fight hard to hold on to their current perks.
According to Armenti, the notion of “Fair Stakeholder Representation” is clearly an idea whose time has come. And as PASSHE’s 700,000 students, parents and alumni find their voice through the concerted efforts of the Pennsylvania Association of State Colleges and Universities (PASCU), that idea and the worthy aspirations of all those Majority Stakeholders will inevitably be fulfilled as “government” higher education gives way to “state-related” higher education—as it should, as it must, and as it will.
The Role of PASCU
PASCU’s mission is “To ensure that the statutory purpose of public higher education in Pennsylvania as specified by Act 188 of 1982: ‘High quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students,’ is indefinitely preserved and faithfully delivered.” To advance that mission, PASCU seeks to reform the governance of PASSHE so as to enable it achieve its statutory purpose as mandated by Act 188.
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 statutory purpose of public higher education in Pennsylvania. He also writes for his blog at http://angeloarmenti.blogspot.com/.