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April 11, 2014
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

BOG approves new degrees


The board of governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Thursday approved new graduate degree programs in health science and special education to be offered separately by Lock Haven and Slippery Rock universities and new flexible pricing plans at Clarion and Millersville universities.

Lock Haven University will offer a master of science in health science degree that will include concentrations in health promotion/education and healthcare management. It will prepare graduates for leadership and management positions in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, community health centers and nonprofit health and human services settings. The program will be delivered online and via interactive videoconferencing.

The new doctorate degree at SRU will equip college faculty to prepare teachers to be effective in inclusive classroom settings and/or to serve in special education leadership positions in the K-12 system or with related support service agencies.

The new pricing plans approved are part of the board's efforts to provide the universities with greater flexibility in a number of operational areas. PASSHE universities can submit proposals to adjust their tuition rates and certain fees charged to students under two-year pilots. The proposals also must be approved by the individual university councils of trustees before they can be implemented.

The programs will be evaluated over a two-year period to determine their effectiveness. If successful, the programs could be continued, and even duplicated at other universities. The first six pilots were approved by the board in January.

Clarion has proposed to charge all undergraduate students on a per-credit basis, effective with the fall 2015 semester. Full-time students currently pay a flat tuition rate for taking from 12 to 18 credits.

Millersville plans to reduce tuition by 10 percent to students who take classes at the PASSHE Center City facility in Philadelphia. The university will begin offering classes at the site this summer.

Millersville also is proposing to establish a program-specific instructional fee for high-cost, high-demand undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics - STEM - programs.

"More than two years ago, the board of governors began working to provide the universities with more pricing flexibility," Frank Brogan, chairman, said. "We took a serious first step forward in January when the board approved the first pilot programs, and took another significant step today. This board is serious about being more flexible, collaborative and student-focused, and proved it yet again today with this action."

The board also approved changes in its policy related to the selection of university presidents to ensure greater input from the universities during the search. By law, the board is responsible for the actual hiring of presidents, but the universities have a major role in the process, including appointing the search committee, when searches occur.

Under the revisions approved by the board, the chairs of both the search committee and the university's council of trustees will be included in the deliberations by the board of governors as it considers the final candidates proposed by the university. Other changes would ensure that acting or interim presidents could declare their interest in being a candidate for the permanent position, and would reduce from three to two the number of continuing candidates the university's council of trustees would recommend to the board of governors for final consideration.

Three PASSHE universities -- California, Kutztown and Shippensburg -- will be starting presidential searches in the near future.

The board revised a separate policy to allow for the approval of new academic minors and certificates to occur at the university level to assure agility and flexibility. New programs still will be required to meet specific academic criteria before being implemented.

The board rescinded or revised several other policies whose requirements already are covered in other policies or statutes and were considered unnecessarily burdensome to the universities.

"The state system is evolving and the board of governors is leading the way to strike a better balance between system coordination and greater local decision-making," Brogan said. "These important actions today empower local university leaders to guide their institutions while helping to shape the future of the whole system."

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.