Two Pennsylvania state senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would allow schools that are part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to transfer out.
The bipartisan legislation sponsored by state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester, and state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks, would “give universities in the system greater independence and flexibility in meeting financial challenges and academic and enrollment needs,” a statement issued by the senators said.
The schools in question are Bloomsberg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.
The state senators said that the schools have faced declining enrollment in recent years, and associated financial hardships.
“Giving state-system universities the pathway to become state-related schools will give them the freedom and independence they need to meet the challenges of the future,” said Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee.
Under Senate Bill 1275, larger schools would be able to become state-related universities, like Penn State, Temple and Pitt. In order to make that switch, the school would have to
- Have a student enrollment of more than 7,000;
- Have an unqualified audit opinion for three years;
- Have the financial ability to compensate the state for the depreciated value of its property;
- and continue to contribute to the employer share for pension obligations,
“Allowing universities to transition to a state-related institution will provide greater flexibility to respond to local community, business and workforce needs – while providing more funds for remaining PASSHE schools,” Tomlinson said.
Schools not big enough to become state-related that leave the state system would have to pay back the value of their property over 30 years, NBC reported.