The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) comprises 14 universities, four branch campuses, several regional centers and the McKeever Environmental Learning Center. The universities are situated in rural, suburban and small-town settings throughout Pennsylvania, in the communities of Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester. The four branch campuses are in Oil City (Clarion), Kittanning and Punxsutawney (Indiana) and Clearfield (Lock Haven). The Office of the Chancellor is situated in the capital city of Harrisburg at the Dixon University Center.
As established by the founding legislation, Act 188 of 1982, the primary mission of the State System of Higher Education “. . . is the provision of instruction for undergraduate and graduate students to and beyond the master’s degree in the liberal arts and sciences, and in the applied fields, including the teaching profession.” While the universities share a common mission, each also embraces specific spheres of excellence. Additionally, the purpose of PASSHE is “to provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to students.”
A 20-member Board of Governors, which comprises four legislators, three students, the governor or a designee, the secretary of education or a designee and 11 citizens appointed by the governor, set general policy for PASSHE.
The Board of Governors has “. . . overall responsibility for planning and coordinating the development and operation of the System.” The board appoints the chancellor, who serves as the chief executive officer of PASSHE, and the university presidents. Each university has an 11-member council of trustees, which carries out Board policy and deals with a variety of local issues. The chancellor is an ex-officio member of each council.
Universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education provide a wide range of associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs, offering teacher, administrator and supervisory certificates, as well as a range of lifelong learning opportunities. More than 250 degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study are offered. Prerequisite coursework and counseling are afforded students planning to enter professional schools for engineering, health-related sciences and law.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) offers graduate instruction at the doctoral level. Other PASSHE universities also may offer doctoral programs in conjunction with IUP or with any other institution chartered to award doctoral degrees. The universities are fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Academic programs are individually accredited by appropriate national organizations.
A total of 109,088 undergraduate and graduate, part-time and full-time, students attend PASSHE universities. Ninety percent are in-state students and 64 percent remain in Pennsylvania after graduation.
The total university campus comprises more than 4,698 acres. A total of 862 buildings (24,991,533 square feet) house classrooms, residences, administrative offices and student support services.
The libraries on each campus provide resource support for academic programs and are connected electronically by the Keystone Library Network (KLN). The KLN provides students and staff access to the combined holdings of the 14 universities’ libraries, which number in the millions, and allows them to use the Internet to conduct research day or night from any location.
There are more than 617,000 PASSHE alumni, including more than 405,000 who live in Pennsylvania.
PASSHE employs more than 12,169 professional and support staff, most covered by collective bargaining agreements, making it the 15th largest employer in the state.
Tuition at System universities is $5,038 per year for Pennsylvania undergraduate students and from $7,558 to $12,598 per year for nonresident students. The graduate student tuition is $6,048 per year, Pennsylvania, and $9,678 per year, out-of-state. Resident students also pay a $125-a-year instructional technology fee; nonresidents, $188. Board and room charges vary, as do local fees. Students may apply for a variety of state and federal financial assistance programs, and campus scholarships, grants and loans.
The state universities spent the first 100 years of existence training teachers for Pennsylvania's schools. The Normal School Act of 1857 established regional teacher training institutions throughout the Commonwealth. The School Code of 1911 called for the state purchase of all normal schools, and by 1921 the current configuration of 14 state-owned universities was established. The 14 normal schools evolved from state normal schools, to state teachers colleges, to state colleges. On November 12, 1982, Act 188 was signed into law establishing on July 1, 1983, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Thus, the 13 former state colleges joined with Indiana University of Pennsylvania to achieve university status.