NOTE: Lock Haven University Interim President and Bloomsburg University President Bashar Hanna shared the information below in an email to students, faculty and staff at both universities. President Charles Patterson sent a similar message to the campus community at Mansfield University.
“Plans for the proposed integration of Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities, resulting in a new integrated university, continues to take shape as we look ahead to their consideration by the PASSHE Board of Governors.
“The goal of the Northeastern Academic Affairs team is to increase program options for students from high school dual-enrollment through associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. Leveraging the academic strengths of each university promises the growth potential to pursue emerging areas of student interest and develop career and degree pathways grounded in both student and workforce demand.
“The combined array of the new integrated university will offer a robust educational experience with enhanced access points for students across the region. In the future, students will realize the benefit of expanded access to all disciplines on all campuses.
“The increased options will provide students with more opportunities to access exemplary, affordable degree programs and well-qualified faculty while taking part in high-impact experiences aimed at ensuring career readiness.
“Regionally, this means a significant broadening of the program array options. For Lock Haven and Mansfield students, this expansion leads to nearly double the bachelor’s degree program options from which to choose.
“Expanded academic opportunities and alignment with workforce development initiatives means that the Northeastern universities will be able to offer an exemplary educational experience for all students—including outlined pathways for efficient degree-completion programs. Students will have more choices than ever before and the flexibility to complete a degree that works for their lifestyle and their timeline.
Middle States Accreditation:
“The Western Integration completed a significant integration milestone: the submission of the Preliminary Complex Substantive Change Form to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Last week, the Western integration (California, Clarion, and Edinboro) outlined its plan to integrate (Middle States uses the term “consolidate”) to create a single integrated/consolidated university, and explains why integration/consolidation is a good fit for the partner universities.
“In the weeks ahead, the Northeastern universities will be following the same accreditation process. Middle States recommended that one set of integration partners submit first and await feedback before the second set of partners makes its submission.
“While not identical, the forms submitted to Middle States are aligned and consistent, with common boilerplate, timelines, and details. Some areas that will align with our forthcoming Northeastern integration submission include:
Administrative Hub: Middle States requires the integrated university to identify one partner campus as
its administrative unit for accreditation purposes. Middle States recommends that
the university that completed the accreditation process most recently act as the administrative
unit for the integrated entity. Based on this recommendation, Bloomsburg has been
identified as the administrative unit for accreditation purposes. If we do not select
an existing accreditation, Middle States would recognize the new integrated university
as a brand-new entity that is not accredited, and thus we would be pursuing accreditation
for the first time. This is all contingent on the feedback received by the Western
integration per its Middle States submission.
For the purposes of the submission, Middle States uses the term “main campus” to describe the administrative unit. 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 integrated university will operate as collaborating partners in all other respects.
Naming process: Middle States officials are aware that the integrated university will have a new name, which has yet to be determined. We are working with Ologie, a branding and marketing firm, to conduct research and engage with prospective student and parent audiences to provide naming convention recommendations to the leadership group that align with the goals of integration: retaining the name, brand and historic identity of the universities.
Functional areas: A tentative organizational chart is being developed. This is required for the Middle
States submission, and depicts the integrated university organized into a basic, three-level
org chart (office of the president > divisions > functional areas) which is still
evolving; it will be expanded to include job titles and other details in the months
ahead. We will share the organizational chart when it is ready to be submitted.
No potential changes will impact our legal responsibility to honor collective bargaining agreements.
“Both the Northeastern and Western integration teams have made a formal proposal to the NCAA to retain the full complement of intercollegiate sports on all partner campuses. We continue to pursue this path with the NCAA and are encouraged by the thoughtful response to our request. For current student-athletes and those currently being recruited, this path would provide the ability to retain our existing sports teams.
“As you can see, creating the integrated university is a complex and multi-faceted project. Bloomsburg University is well represented among the 500+ individuals who are involved in innovating and re-imagining student-centered higher education in Pennsylvania. Their work informs recommendations that will be shared with the Board of Governors as we seek to shape our future as a premier provider of higher education for northeastern Pennsylvania and beyond. I am immensely proud of and thankful for their work, and I encourage all of you to stay informed as the process continues.
“Plans for both the Northeastern and Western integrations will be presented to the PASSHE Board of Governors at its upcoming meeting in April. Board affirmation would initiate a 60-day period for public comment, culminating in a decision by the Board at its July meeting.
“We expect further updates to include greater detail on the academic program array
and organizational structure. I will keep our Bloomsburg community informed as planning
continues and opportunities for your input arise. For a deeper dive into System Redesign
or to share your feedback, visit www.passhe.edu/integrations.
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