Skip to main content





PASSHE governor  extend chancellor’s, president’s  contracts


HARRISBURG, Pa. – The board of governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education voted unanimously April 7 to extend the contract of Chancellor John Cavanaugh and 11 PASSHE university presidents, including Slippery Rock University’s Robert Smith, through June 30, 2014.

The action came before Smith announced Tuesday he would be stepping down in January.

Through his focus on student success, Cavanaugh not only has emerged as one of the leading voices in higher education in the commonwealth, but also has positioned the state system universities as the educational institutions of choice in the commonwealth, said Marie Conley, chair of the board’s human resources committee.

“He embodies the words ‘honesty,’ ‘integrity’ and ‘conviction,’” Conley said. “While he has continued to motivate his team of presidents and staff through some difficult years of little financial growth and extreme cost-saving measures that have had a huge impact on each of the 14 campuses, it is obvious to anyone who meets him or speaks with him, he has truly one mission, one focus, one goal – to produce the most positive, effective and efficient experience for every student who enters any of our 14 doors.”

Cavanaugh was appointed chancellor of the state system in July 2008. During his nearly three-year tenure, the PASSHE universities have experienced record enrollment growth and have continued to enhance the quality of education they offer, with more programs than ever being accredited by professional organizations nationally.

Even as state funding has declined because of the lingering effects of the national recession, PASSHE’s annual tuition increases have been among the lowest of all public university systems in the nation. PASSHE universities offer the lowest-cost education among all four-year colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.

The board’s human resources committee conducted more than 60 interviews during a recently completed performance review of Cavanaugh. The chancellor and the university presidents undergo annual evaluations by the board. Each of the presidential evaluations also includes the appropriate university’s council of trustees, which makes a recommendation to the board of governors on whether its president’s contract should be extended.

“There was not one group, from the Harrisburg Rotary to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, that did not share that they hope [Cavanaugh] will play a leadership role in their organization” Conley said. “The respect that he has from his own team, faculty and staff, university presidents and students was articulated in every interview.”

Cavanaugh holds leadership roles with several national organizations. He is chair of the Federal Relations Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers and of the Policies and Purposes Committee of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. He also is a commissioner of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; a member of the board of directors of the Middle States Commission; and a member of the American Council on Education's Office of Women in Higher Education Commission.

Other PASSHE university presidents whose contracts were extended are: David Soltz, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; Angelo Armenti Jr., California University of Pennsylvania; Michelle Howard-Vital, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania; Karen Whitney, Clarion University of Pennsylvania; Robert Dillman, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania; F. Javier Cevallos, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania; Maravene Loeschke, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania; Francine McNairy, Millersville University of Pennsylvania; William Ruud, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania; and Greg Weisenstein, West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Interim presidents are serving at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. Michael Fiorentino Jr., currently the executive vice president and provost of Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, Mass., will assume the presidency at Lock Haven University in July. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania President Jeremy Brown recently announced that he will be leaving next month to assume the presidency of Dowling College on Long Island, N.Y.