When does a state budget crisis start damaging public higher education?
Another American state is in the throes of budget crisis, and it’s starting to hurt higher ed. Pennsylvania’s governor has been feuding over spending with legislators since 2015, and public higher education has not received state funds since last summer. As far as I can tell the deadlock continues, with governor Wolf refusing to support the latest legislative budget plan.
Now Penn’s accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), has formally asked campuses to explain how the finance crisis has impacted their basic academic functions.
For example, Penn State’s president received a formal request:
“While we are aware that the budget impasse is not within your control, its impact on the availability of state funding to the institution has raised questions concerning Pennsylvania State University’s ability to remain in compliance with Standard 3 (Institutional Resources) — especially if this situation persists for any significant period of time,” [MSCHE Vice President Tito Guerrero]. wrote.
It’s not just Penn State.
According to MSCHE spokesman Richard Pokrass, similar letters were sent by commission representatives to the other state-related universities — Temple, Pitt and Lincoln — as well as to Penn College of Technology, affiliated with Penn State, and the administration of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities.
That’s 19 separate schools in Pennsylvania. Penn State alone, the largest college in the state, has 24 campuses across the commonwealth.
Perhaps to give a sense of the budget crisis’ impact, Centre Daily offers an interesting historical echo: “In August 2012, Penn State was put on a warning status after the release of the Freeh report and the NCAA’s sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.”
Pennsylvania, Alaska, Louisiana, Illinois: the crisis of American public higher education funding seems to be growing.
On a personal/professional note, two years ago Penn State invited me to address them, and asked me to present futures that were dystopian. This combination of state budget crisis and accreditation fallout is suggested by parts of scenarios 2-4. Sorry about that, friends.
Also two years ago I blogged about two Penn State system campuses and their queen sacrifices. That Cassandra vibe is beginning to settle over me.