PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–All 14 Pennsylvania-run universities are under review. Across the board, enrollment has been down since its peak in 2010. At West Chester University, there soon will be a new president and continued attention on what’s unfolding at schools around the state.
The man tapped to lead West Chester is Dr. Christopher Fiorentino, and the times are challenging.
State-run universities across the Pennsylvania landscape have struggled with declining enrollment, and state funding that continues to evaporate.
A system-wide review could trigger consolidations. Some schools are in danger of closing. The story at West Chester, however, is different.
“We’re looking to launch a new strategic plan over the course of the next year, a new general education curriculum where we are really focusing on the tools that are required for our students to be successful,” Dr. Fiorentino said.
Dr. Fiorentino has spent 33 years here.
He’s served as interim president for the past year. West Chester has seen growth, unlike 12 other schools in the state system. The state higher education system tells CBS3 – schools across the northern tier and western part of the state are suffering because of a drop in high school graduation rates – some are down 25 percent.
“They don’t have the population area we have.”
Professor Emerita Dr. Sandra Mather also says much of WCU’s success hinges on name recognition.
“It’s the reputation we’ve built,” she said.
Dr. Michael Boyle, a professor of communications and representative of the faculty union says the continued drop in state funding is alarming.
But believes, in a way, West Chester has been sheltered.
“I think the environment around here, we’re close to Philadelphia, we’re in a central spot, close for students.
I think that’s helped buoy us and miss some of those kinds of things,” Dr. Boyle said.
As for the study being conducted at universities statewide – that is expected to be concluded in a few week.
Some tough decisions may be in play as early as mid summer The president is sworn in tomorrow morning