The Lead

Three consolidating state schools to become ‘Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania’

By: - March 2, 2022 5:18 pm

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors approved a new name for three consolidated schools — Mansfield, Bloomsburg, and Lock Haven universities — on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (Screenshot)

Three consolidating Pennsylvania state universities have a new name as they become a northeastern regional campus for students enrolling this year.

The merging schools — Bloomsburg, Mansfield, and Lock Haven universities — will form Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania, following unanimous approval from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors on Wednesday.

The new title still needs approval from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which handles college and university accreditation.

“This is tremendously exciting work, but it’s also super hard work,” State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein said. “And it’s taking a lot of effort and application to kind of realize a new vision for the future of our students.”

It’s the latest step in consolidating six PASSHE schools into two regional campuses to address rising tuition costs and sagging enrollment across the education system. The merger also includes California, Clarion, and Edinboro universities, which were renamed Pennsylvania Western University last fall.

Each school will retain its identity and reflect the surrounding community, but Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania will help identify the regional campus. Bloomsburg University President Bashar Hanna, who helped lead rebranding efforts, said each school will retain its mascot.

“We will preserve the founding principles of each campus and continue to provide vibrant, on-campus student experiences while serving as pillars of our three communities,” Hanna said. “The power of three will create a higher education experience — the likes of which is not possible without integration.”

With a phased implementation process, consolidation will begin in 2022-23. Campuses will have one president and a leadership team.

“This is a bold investment in the people and communities of Pennsylvania,” Hanna said. “We are positioning ourselves for growth, increasing access to students across the commonwealth, and meeting the economic and workforce needs across our regions, our state, and beyond.”

Since students will be attending classes across each campus, online learning and hybrid instruction models are likely, also resulting in layoffs. Hanna added that schools also will utilize satellite teaching sites.

“This work is ongoing and will continue for years to come,” Hanna added. “There will be growing pains along the way, and not everyone will agree with every direction or decision taken as we come together. We are better for having such diversity of thought and opinion.”

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