HARRISBURG — Rep. Jason Ortitay’s (R-Washington/Allegheny) recently introduced legislation to centralize the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors.
“A recent report by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee showed change is needed for the long-term sustainability of the PASSHE,” Ortitay said. “The population of young people in each of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties is expected to decline between 3 percent to 45 percent by 2030. Enrollment in the system schools has declined a total of 13 percent between 2010 and 2016.”
Additionally, the study found internal factors reduce the state system’s ability to respond to challenges. Governance that is reportedly bureaucratic hinder opportunities to change. As defined by the original law creating PASSHE (Act 188), the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Governors, the Chancellor’s Office, university presidents and Councils of Trustees overlap in some areas. For example, the approval of academic programs requires the review and authorization of both the Board of Governors and the Councils of Trustees, with the board recently delegating its authority to the Chancellor’s Office. In other areas, the legislation is ambiguous. For example, Act 188 lacks clarity in defining the decision authority held by the Board of Governors and the Chancellor’s Office.
“This lack of clarity and duplication in responsibilities contribute to a system top heavy in administration,” Ortitay said. “By streamlining and removing duplications within the schools, we can help put the system back on track. These changes also will make the system more student centered and focus on the needs of the students in order to help them secure employment after graduation.”
House Bill 2551
would repeal and replace the structure and duties of the PASSHE Board of Governors. Under the bill, the board would:
• Establish a human resources department of all member institutions.
• Establish the powers and duties of the member institutions’ Council of Trustees to oversee day-to-day member institution operations.
• Define the mission of each member institution.
• Adopt strategic plans for the system and member universities.
• Submit a budget to the General Assembly for the system and member institutions.
• Approve and adopt degree programs for member institutions.
The new board would consist of nine individuals appointed by the governor, House speaker, House minority leader, president pro tempore of the Senate and Senate minority leader. The final position would be a faculty member appointed by his or her peers.
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick