Wolf Administration Announces Historic Investment in PASSHE
July 01, 2021
With the first $50 million of a $200 million three-year commitment for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) on its way, Governor Wolf today applauded the tremendous and exciting opportunity it brings to reinvigorate PASSHE universities, making them more affordable, accessible, and equitable for all Pennsylvania.
“Our state university system provides a world class education that enables tens of thousands of students to achieve their dream of a college degree and to build lives here in Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “This is an investment in the future of our students that will rebuild our state universities and make a college education more affordable and accessible to generations of Pennsylvanians.
The funding provides an opportunity for the State System to address its most pressing needs, while positioning it for success in the fundamental system redesign that the Board of Governors undertook in 2016. Those needs extend to initiatives such as improving student retention and graduation rates; ensuring campus communities are diverse and inclusive and produce equitable outcomes for students, faculty and staff; targeting financial and other supports to make PASSHE more affordable for low-income students; growing enrollments through reinvigorated marketing; and modernizing essential infrastructure.
“We appreciate the support from the Governor and General Assembly,” said PASSHE Board of Governors Chair Cynthia D. Shapira. “The partnership we have established over the last two years has been beneficial for the System and the Commonwealth. We appreciate the Governor’s commitment to our mission and the General Assembly’s commitment to our partnership.”
PASSHE is also working with APSCUF and AFSCME to use a portion of the investment to support its workforce while simultaneously meeting its financial sustainability goals. This will entail minimizing reliance on retrenchment and furloughs by utilizing a variety of means including retirement incentives, placement and outplacement for impacted employees, and providing reskilling and upskilling opportunities through credentialing programs.
Using this combination of tools, faculty at any of the 14 universities who are facing role elimination will have an extended period – to June 2024 – to work with APSCUF and PASSHE to find alternatives to their retrenchment. AFSCME employees facing role elimination will have placement opportunities with other state agencies and an extended furlough notice period to allow for that. Additionally, PASSHE and AFSCME will work together to ensure no functions are outsourced which impact current AFSCME employees.
“APSCUF wants to express our gratitude to Gov. Wolf for his ongoing support of higher education in Pennsylvania and for strongly advocating for $200 million in funding for PASSHE,” said APSCUF President Jamie Martin. “The first installment of $50 million will benefit our students and our universities, and it signals a commitment to our faculty who are dedicated to their profession and their students.”
“AFSCME members and all employees of PASSHE universities are glad to see such significant funding going to their institutions. We appreciate Governor Wolf’s support and leadership in securing $200 million over the next three years. This commitment emphasizes a greater effort being put into retaining the jobs of AFSCME members and recognizes their efforts to keep these campuses operating, even throughout a pandemic,” AFSCME Council 13 Executive Director David Henderson said.
The first $50 million investment in ARP funding for PASSHE is part of a $200 million three-year agreement. Governor Wolf signed the budget with historic investments in education on Wednesday, June 30. The state is also providing $81 million, an $11 million increase, for capital projects at state universities.