Interim President Robert Thorn provides details about the process in his first report to the council.
Interim University President Robert Thorn provided a Western Integration progress report, an update on the spring semester, and plans for Fall 2021 in his spring quarterly report March 3 to the Cal U Council of Trustees, his first since assuming his new role in January.
Documents have been submitted to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) that describes plans to transform Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro universities — members of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education — into a single integrated university.
Among the highlights of these documents:
- Cal U will be designated as the “administrative hub” of the integrated university,
a Middle States requirement for accreditation purposes.
“Middle States uses the term ‘main campus’ to describe the administrative hub,” interim President Thorn said. “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.”
- A tentative organizational chart has been submitted.
- Western Integration working groups have used enrollment, regional workforce and other data as they work to create a single program array.
- A formal proposal has been made to the NCAA to retain the full complement of intercollegiate sports on all partner campuses.
- Work has begun with an external marketing firm that will assist in determining a marketable name for the integrated university.
Interim President Thorn also updated trustees about a “wholly successful” campus re-opening that brought a small group of students back to California for the spring semester.
There are 338 undergraduate and 24 graduate courses being delivered on campus this semester, Thorn said. Cal U welcomed nearly 430 students back to residence halls, where small “pods” of no more than four students are able to interact in a more relaxed environment as they commit to following COVID-19 safety measures.
Student-athletes are competing in baseball, softball, tennis, swimming, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s track and field in a reduced playing season due to COVID. PSAC Conference Championships will be offered in all of these sports, and NCAA championships will take place in all sports but swimming.
“Because our spring semester has gotten off to a strong start, we are optimistic that we can offer more in-person classes and a campus experience that allows us to work, live and learn together next fall,” interim President Thorn told the trustees.
In other reports:
Dr. Daniel Engstrom, vice president for Academic Affairs, updated trustees on progress in the online and academic integration working groups, including the submission of plans to Dr. Dan Greenstein, chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
Dr. Kristen Majocha, dean of the College of Education and Liberal Arts, updated the trustees on programming within the college focused on undergraduate research, Black History Month, Women’s History Month and community engagement.
T. David Garcia, vice president for Enrollment Management, updated the trustees on admissions trends, including students who are enrolling part time. The official spring headcount is 6,454 students, and graduate school enrollment is up 7.69%. He also reported on Cal U Educational Alliance partnerships and Cares Act II funding.
Fawn Petrosky, vice president for Administration and Finance, reported on fiscal year 2020-2021 budget projections, capital projects and the campus master plan.
Lawrence Sebek, vice president for Student Affairs, introduced Cal U’s COVID-19 Response Team and outlined the steps taken when a student tests positive for the virus or is asked to quarantine.
Christine Kindl, vice president for Communications and Marketing, highlighted the University’s viewbook, which is expected to be distributed to 15,000 high school juniors at a cost of $1.75 per copy.
Anthony Mauro, vice president for University Development and Alumni Relations, highlighted virtual events that have kept alumni and donors connected to Cal U, as well as continued success in the areas of planned giving and affinity-group contributions.