Faculty, staff, students and alumni from the State System will gather in Harrisburg April 10 to advocate for affordable, high-quality public higher education.
“Support for the State System is support for the future of Pennsylvania!”
That is the message more than 150 students, faculty, staff and alumni from the 14 universities that comprise Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education will personally deliver Wednesday when they meet with legislators and staff members in the Capitol. The visits are part of the System’s annual advocacy efforts, which also will include a mid-morning gathering on the steps of the Capitol’s main rotunda.
Through early June, the #Prepared4PA social media campaign will spread the news to business leaders, elected leaders and taxpayers about the State System's high-value, in-demand programs that prepare graduates to meet employment needs of the commonwealth.
From Cal U, Seth Shiley, Student Government president; Alex Arnold, member of the Cal U Council of Trustees; Jeromy Mackey, president of the Student Association Inc.; Amanda Considine, financial secretary and cabinet chair of Student Government; Cynthia Obiekezie, vice president of Student Government; and Shelby Chepress, work-study in the Office of the President, will attend.
The message for legislators is simple, according to State System Chancellor Dan Greenstein: “We need your support to keep the State System the affordable, high-quality option that it is. It matters; it really does.”
“It is important to highlight the success of PASSHE by looking at the facts,” Shiley said. “Ninety-five percent of graduates from PASSHE are employed or pursuing further education with an astonishing 88% working in their field of study. The state system continues to provide its students with an affordable and quality education.”
Greenstein is among those scheduled to speak at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, in the rotunda. Other planned speakers are Clarion University President Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson; Bloomsburg University student Joar Dahn, who also serves on the State System’s Board of Governors; Mansfield University psychology professor Nicolle Mayo; and Highmark Vice President Michael Warfel, a Millersville University alumnus and trustee.
During their meetings in the Capitol, teams from each of the campuses, led by students, will share their personal experiences about their education at a State System university. They will talk about the valuable contributions the universities make to their communities, their regions and the Commonwealth.
They will recite key facts that demonstrate how State System universities are serving the needs of both students and their future employers, including these:
- Nearly 90 percent of State System students are Pennsylvania residents; 1 in 6 college-bound PA high school graduates will attend a State System university.
- State System universities are offering academic programs that align with the state’s workforce needs; almost one-third of all bachelor’s degrees awarded by the universities are in high-demand fields related to either STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or healthcare. Business is the second most popular field of study.
- The current average total price of attendance is $5,000 less than the amount charged by state-related universities, making the State System universities the most affordable option.
- For every $1 invested by the state, System universities generate $11 in economic impact for a total of $6.7 billion—an average of $300 million per university.
The State System is seeking a 2019-20 state appropriation of $505.8 million, an increase of $37.7 million over the current year’s funding level to ensure continued access to and affordability of a high-quality education for the citizens of the Commonwealth. Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed an appropriation of $475.1 million, an increase of approximately $7 million. The new budget is required to be approved by June 30, to take effect July 1.