SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Long before Frank Brogan was named the new chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education that includes Slippery Rock University, he knew about The Rock.
Brogan, who took over as chancellor Oct. 1, visited SRU Wednesday to introduce himself to faculty, staff and students as part of his 14-PASSHE-university tour.
As part of his informal remarks to more than 200 SRU faculty, staff and students in the Smith Student Center Theatre, Brogan outlined his broad vision for the system and introduced himself to the campus. He also shared a story about his first encounter with Slippery Rock University.
He said that in 2001, while serving as Florida's lieutenant governor, he was approached to handle the coin toss in what was then Joe Robbie Stadium, in Miami, for Florida Atlantic University's first-ever football game. The opponent was Slippery Rock University.
Florida Atlantic, where Brogan earned his masters degree in higher education administration in 1976, was coached by Howard Schnellenberger, former University of Miami and University of Louisville coach, who had been hired to create FAU's football program. SRU was led by Coach George Mihalik.
The final score was 40-7, in SRU's favor.
Brogan said he "remembered the game well," and joked that SRU should expect no favors now that he is the PASSHE chancellor.
Brogan was accompanied by Robert Taylor, chair of the SRU council of trustees and a member of the PASSHE board of governors, whom Broken called "a huge cheerleader for Slippery Rock."
Cheryl Norton, SRU president, introduced the chancellor.
"Mr. Brogan previously served as chancellor of the State University System of Florida, was president of Florida Atlantic University and was twice elected lieutenant governor of the state of Florida," she said.
Brogan began his academic career as a teacher at Port Salerno Elementary School in Martin County, Fla. After working his way up through the Martin County School System --including serving six years as superintendent -- he was elected Florida's commissioner of education in 1994.
Brogan advocated for education issues while serving as lieutenant governor from 1999-2003, steering education policy as legislative liaison for Gov. Jeb Bush. He left the governor's office to assume the presidency of Florida Atlantic University in 2003. In his six years as FAU president he worked to elevate academic standards at the institution, which resulted in stricter admissions criteria, higher retention rates and improved time-to-degree. He also helped raise more than $120 million in private funds and matching grants for the university, while increasing its focus on research and establishing a four-year medical education program.
"He was named chancellor of the State University System of Florida in 2009, and immediately went to work to successfully repair strained relationships between the system and the Florida Legislature," Norton said. He led the Florida system's efforts to develop a performance-funding program with goals similar to those of PASSHE's nationally recognized model. The program utilizes key measures to reward universities for excellence and improved performance in areas that support both the institutions' unique missions and systemwide goals for improved quality, accessibility and accountability, she said.
A native of Ohio, Brogan earned his bachelor's degree in education from the University of Cincinnati and his master's degree in education from Florida Atlantic University.
Brogan introduced himself saying he and his wife, Courtney, and their eight-year-old son, Colby John, "were excited to be part of the PASSHE system."
The new chancellor addressed issues currently gaining steam in his administration, including continuing to build the system's influence and streamline a number of academic programs and services.
He said he saw it as his obligation to visit the 14 PASSHE universities. "It is the right thing to do. The first thing I committed to do in my new role was to get out to the 14 universities and talk to the people, to see the universities and to get my arm around, to know a little bit better, what was going on and get a better picture."
He said he would complete the tour by Dec. 2.
"I think that communication is important. You can't over communicate; you can only under communicate," he said in describing why he was visiting all of the campuses.
"Let me talk to you about why I came here. That is not about me; it's about you. You need to know that I came here because of you," he said.
He compared the State System of Florida to PASSHE saying, "It was a different system, but a system is a system, and a university is a university." He said the Florida governing structure is similar to PASSHE's, "but while PASSHE has approximately 115,000 students in 14 institutions, the Florida system is 12 institutions with 340,000 students, the second largest university system in the U.S."
Brogan said SRU was "doing some very exciting things in enrollment marketing, especially the use of mass media and social media and some of the recruitment outreach and national and international recruitment efforts that are taking place. I am one of the old timers who believe that the more students can rub elbows with people from other parts of the state, other parts of the country and other parts of world it give them a more eclectic experience, without even leaving the campus. It is hard to travel abroad, but you are making it a little easier. But at the end of the day when students can be sitting next to someone in a chem lab from Africa to share their experiences and talk about how they grew up and what their value systems are, that is an international education right here informally provided. When students have the chance to engage in different dialects and different languages; that too is an international education, and hard to come by. That is part of what we are, and should be, at a university."
He cited Pennsylvania for its strong support of education. "Pennsylvania realized a long time before any of us that education is king and that education should be provided in ample amounts to people of all stripes anywhere in the commonwealth," he said. "We are now in, not arguably, we are in, the most competitive market higher education has ever seen."
"This is where I think being part of a system can be helpful. We need to be planning for the future, together. It is dangerous to simply say 'we are going to put in a program to do that' without looking at the impact that program is going to have on the rest of system, much less the commonwealth. Is it necessary? Is it viable? Is it sustainable? Is there a market out there? Is there a business model that will support that new effort? And how will all of that work in harmony with the rest of the system and the rest of the state?" he said.
"There is an obligation that goes with being part of the system. It is the pebble in the pond. You can't drop a pebble without the ripple effect that is going to be felt both directly and indirectly by all 13 other institutions in the system and ultimately the commonwealth," he said.
He said it was the system's obligation to see that students are completely prepared for what they are going to find when they go out into the real world.
"And you all know, it does not start when they get there, it starts here; it is taking them where we find them and you giving them opportunities in the classroom, the laboratories, in cooperative education programs, internships, the chance to start, to taste it and feel it even before they actually go out there and walk around in it and earn their living and make a career out of it. It is important that we as a system have courage to look at what we have done, what we do and what we need to do in the future in order to make sure we are competitive."
He said the Pennsylvania system is largely focused on undergraduate education and would remain so under his leadership.
Brogan also discussed a core curriculum he would like to see considered in the future and a number of other program areas, including online education expansion as part of the system's future.
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.