We’re building something new. And you can be part of it.
This is an exciting time for our Cal U community. California University of Pennsylvania is in the midst of a project that considers integration with Clarion and Edinboro universities – two schools that also have a rich heritage here in western Pennsylvania.
The goal is to create new opportunities for students, including a wider variety of academic programs, and to hold down the cost of higher education for students at all three campuses.
What is ‘university integration’?
Each campus will keep its own name and identity as Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro combine their strengths to offer every student a richer academic experience.
Imagine giving students more choices – more chances to take specialized electives within their major, to add minors that enhance the value of a degree, or to study with an expert professor who happens to be on another campus.
Campus life will be vibrant, whether a student chooses to live in a residence hall or commute from home to California, Clarion or Edinboro. Student clubs and organizations, leadership and service opportunities, even late-night pizza parties will still be part of the traditional college experience.
Integration also benefits students – including working adults – who prefer online learning. Our universities are longtime leaders in online education. Together, we’re building an even more robust online operation to meet the needs of Pennsylvania’s students and employers.
Imagine letting students choose the campus experience that suits them best. Or offering them an online degree or certificate from a real bricks-and-mortar university with deep Pennsylvania roots.
Students win when their university is financially strong. University integration is designed to create efficiencies that can make higher education more affordable for families across Pennsylvania and beyond.
Plans call for one leadership team, a single faculty and staff, a unified program array and a single, combined budget. Our universities will save money by working together – and those savings will be re-invested in ways that benefit our students. That could mean new courses, new equipment, expanded student services and holding down or, in some cases, lowering costs.
Whether you learn, live or work at Cal U, you’ll be part of a university that’s planning to be bigger and better. A university designed to empower all students to build the successful life they envision.
Imagine being part of a new university – one that’s not only affordable, but boldly focused on meeting students’ needs, now and in the future.
Learn more about integration
The integration of Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro universities is part of System Redesign, an ongoing effort to reshape Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
Our University Integration plan is in its early stages, and there are still many unknowns. Learn more at the State System’s University Integrations website, where you can leave feedback, read answers to Frequently Asked Questions and explore other resources.
System redesign resources:
- System redesign
- University Integrations website
Submit your questions or feedback about university integration and System Redesign
To our Cal U community,
Plans for the proposed integration of California, Clarion and Edinboro universities continue to take shape as we look ahead to their consideration by the PASSHE Board of Governors.
Last week, the Western Integration project reached an important milestone: submission of crucial paperwork – Preliminary Complex Substantive Change Forms – to our accrediting body, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Each partner university submitted a preliminary form that describes our plan to integrate (Middle States uses the term “consolidate”) California, Clarion and Edinboro to create a single integrated/consolidated university. The submission outlines the proposed change and explains why integration/consolidation is a good fit for California and our partner universities.
While not identical, the forms submitted to Middle States are aligned and consistent, with common boilerplate, timelines and details. Some highlights:
Administrative hub: Middle States requires the new Integrated University to identify one partner campus as its administrative hub for accreditation purposes. To meet that requirement most efficiently and provide a seamless transition, the Integrated University will retain the accreditation and degree-granting authority of California, the partner school that most recently completed the Middle States accreditation process.
Middle States uses the term “main campus” to describe the administrative hub. Although this designation is required by MSCHE accreditation policies and appears in the submission for compliance purposes, we have clearly stated to Middle States that the three campuses of our new Integrated University will operate as partners in all other respects.
Naming process: Middle States officials are aware that the Integrated University will have a new name, which has yet to be determined. Within the naming convention for the new integrated/consolidated university, we expect to incorporate the current location name (California, Clarion, Edinboro) for the partner campuses.
Functional areas: A tentative organizational chart, also required for the Middle States submission, depicts the Integrated University organized into seven functional areas: Academic Affairs; Student Affairs; Strategic Enrollment Management; University Advancement; Administration and Finance; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Virtual and Global Education. This basic, three-level org chart (president > direct reports > functional areas) is still evolving; it will be expanded to include job titles and other details in the months ahead.
The process of filling positions at the Integrated University is still being developed. We anticipate a transition period during the implementation phase of the project, with some roles filled by appointment and others through an interview process. No potential changes will impact our legal responsibility to honor collective bargaining agreements. In the meantime, retirement incentives are being offered through System Redesign.
Once Middle States has reviewed the Preliminary Complex Substantive Change Form and each university responds to any questions or information requests, Western Integration planners will prepare the more in-depth Complex Substantive Change Forms, which identify how each partner university will meet Middle States standards within the integrated/consolidated entity.
The Northeastern Integration will be following the same accreditation process in the weeks ahead. Middle States recommended that one set of integration partners submit first and wait for feedback before the second set of partners makes its submission.
In other news …
Meanwhile, Western Integration working groups have used enrollment, completion, faculty complement and regional workforce data to identify approximately 80 disciplinary units, or areas of study, that will be offered at the Integrated University. The goal is to expand academic opportunities and offer an exemplary educational experience for all students, while retaining expert faculty, meeting workforce needs and reducing costs by sharing programs across the partner campuses.
Some academic programs will be delivered in person at multiple locations, others at one or two campuses, based on student demand, faculty complement, facilities and other factors. Academic hubs will be identified as coordinating points for faculty and resources in program delivery. Program structure, assessment and program-level accreditation locations and processes will be determined in the coming months.
The developing model calls for general education courses to be delivered on all three partner campuses. A typical student at the Integrated University would take in-person courses delivered on their home campus, plus some hybrid, remote-learning or online courses with faculty based at another campus. Fully online degree programs will be offered through the “virtual campus” as well.
Finally, both the Western and Northeastern integration teams have made a formal proposal to the NCAA to retain the full complement of intercollegiate sports on all partner campuses. We continue to pursue this path with the NCAA and are encouraged by the thoughtful response to our request. For student-athletes currently being recruited, this path would provide the ability to retain our existing sports teams.
As you can see, creating the Integrated University is a complex and multi-faceted project. Cal U is well represented among the 400+ individuals who are involved in innovating and re-imagining student-centered higher education in Pennsylvania. Their work informs recommendations that will be shared with the Board of Governors as we seek to shape our future as a premier provider of higher education for western Pennsylvania and beyond. I am immensely proud of and thankful for their work, and I encourage all of you to stay informed as the process continues.
Plans for both the Western and Northeastern integrations will be presented to the PASSHE Board of Governors at its upcoming meeting. Board affirmation would initiate a 60-day period for public comment, culminating in a decision by the Boardat its summer meeting.
You can expect further updates that include greater detail on the academic program array and the financial impact analysis in the coming weeks. I will keep our Cal U community informed as planning continues and opportunities for your input arise. For a deeper dive into System Redesign or to share your feedback, visit www.passhe.edu/integrations.
Robert J. Thorn
To our faculty, staff, students and alumni,
This afternoon the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education unanimously affirmed that plans to integrate Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro universities should move forward.
The Board’s action was taken after a financial review conducted by the State System showed that integration has the potential to build a more sustainable future for all three institutions.
More importantly, the analysis shows that integration will expand academic opportunities and help to make higher education more affordable for our students and their families.
Although Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro have been exploring possibilities for several months as part of the overall System Redesign, the planning phase of our integration is in its early stages. Many questions have yet to be answered, and our faculty, staff, students, alumni and communities will have a chance to provide input in the months ahead.
How can integration help students academically?
As it’s envisioned now, integration would create a single accredited university – a powerhouse that would offer a broad array of in-person and online courses on three different campuses, each with its own identity, culture and traditions.
Cal U would continue to offer in-person classes and a vibrant campus experience to resident and commuter students.
When academic programs are combined into a unified array, students will have an expanded “menu” of on-campus and remote-learning options to choose from. Students at Cal U, for example, could learn from faculty on campus or choose to study with professors based at Clarion or Edinboro.
Our students would have more academic choices – and access to a wider range of faculty expertise – than any one of the partner schools currently can provide.
Online learners would benefit from integration, too. As you know, Cal U Global Online has delivered 100% online education for more than 15 years. Clarion and Edinboro have strong, nationally recognized online offerings as well.
Together, the schools expect to assemble a robust online program that’s competitively priced and aligned with the Commonwealth’s workforce needs. Such a program should be especially attractive to adult learners, including the roughly 1 million Pennsylvanians who’ve earned some college credits but never finished their degree.
As a first step, Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro have aligned their academic calendars for Spring 2020, and a limited number of courses are being shared across campuses.
How can integration help students financially?
Students benefit when their university is financially secure. Tuition costs are less likely to rise, and students can count on adequate support for academic programming, student services, scholarships and more.
Combining operations at Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro undoubtedly will uncover cost efficiencies and economies of scale. These savings will be re-invested to enhance the student experience and rein in the overall cost of college attendance.
As a single university serving more than 15,000 students, the new, integrated entity will be better positioned to control costs for students and their families. If you are a Cal U student, or a future Vulcan, there is no better time to be part of our campus community.
Operational savings also could bolster the university’s financial reserves, assuring a strong and stable future for our campus and the students of our region.
Cal who? Cal U!
Integration will certainly bring changes, but rest assured, Cal U will remain. Leaders at all three campuses are committed to maintaining their local identity and honoring their vital, longstanding ties to alumni and the local community.
You will be kept informed as plans develop, but here’s what’s ahead:
Cal U and its partners will begin now to develop a plan for integration that focuses on benefits to students. The State System’s timeline calls for planning to be completed as soon as April 2021, followed by a 60-day period for public comment. The earliest an integrated university could begin accepting students would be August 2022.
Even then, Cal U will endure. Over 168 years our school has grown from a tiny academy to a normal school, a teachers college and now a comprehensive public university. This is another moment of transformation, another chance to build on our past and invent a future that is brighter for us all.
With warmest wishes,
Geraldine M. Jones
More opportunities for students. That’s the driving force that propels California University of Pennsylvania toward a proposed integration with Clarion and Edinboro universities.
With the initial financial review completed and the initiative affirmed unanimously by the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, the trio of Western Pennsylvania universities is formulating plans to combine and collaborate, rather than compete.
As envisioned now, a Cal U-Clarion-Edinboro integration would create a single accredited university – a powerhouse that would offer a broad array of in-person and online courses on three different campuses, each with its own identity, culture and traditions.
It’s a bold concept with the potential to benefit students both academically and financially.
Once academic programs are integrated into a unified array, students will have an expanded “menu” of on-campus and remote-learning options to choose from. Traditional students at Cal U, for example, might learn from faculty in California or study with professors based at Clarion or Edinboro. Students on each of the three campuses would have more academic choices than a single partner currently can provide – and more choices create more opportunities for students to shape their future.
Online learners will benefit from integration, too. Cal U has delivered 100% online degree and career-focused certificate programs for more than 15 years; Clarion and Edinboro also have strong online offerings. Together, the schools expect to assemble a robust online program that’s competitively priced and aligned with the Commonwealth’s workforce needs. Such a program should be especially attractive to adult learners, including the roughly 1 million Pennsylvanians who’ve earned some college credits but never finished their degree.
Combining operations at Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro undoubtedly will uncover cost efficiencies and economies of scale. These savings will be re-invested to enhance the student experience and rein in the overall cost of college attendance. For generations, all three institutions have unlocked a brighter future for students from all backgrounds, including those who are the first in their families to attend college. As a single university serving more than 15,000 students, the new, integrated entity will be better positioned to control costs for students and their families.
Although Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro have been exploring possibilities for several months as part of the overall System Redesign, the planning phase of integration is in its early stages. Many questions have yet to be answered; many possibilities remain to be explored. Leaders at all three campuses are committed to maintaining their local identity and honoring their ties to alumni and the local community. But we are convinced that integration is the way forward.
Over its 168-year history, California has proved its resilience. Through hard work and dedication, a small, private academy on the banks of the Monongahela River transformed itself into a normal school, a teachers college, a state college and a comprehensive public university. This is another moment of transformation, another chance to build on our past and invent a future where all students are empowered to reach their full potential. For the sake of our students and the opportunities they deserve, Cal U must continue to evolve.
Geraldine M. Jones is president of California University of Pennsylvania, which serves nearly 6,900 undergraduate and graduate students. Founded in 1852, Cal U is a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education