University President Geraldine Jones updated the Cal U community about the ongoing integration among Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro universities. Here is her message.
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.