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OCTOBER 2, 2012


PASSHE in the News

PASSHE to hold campus-based workshops on changes in law that will create new entrepreneurial opportunities, ability to offer advanced career-based degrees

The Office of the Chancellor and the PASSHE universities are hosting a series of campus-based workshops to focus on the expanded role the State System universities could play as economic drivers in their host communities and surrounding regions as the result of recent changes in state law. Invited guests include local business leaders, who could be key partners with the universities in these efforts.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly unanimously approved a series of bills that will create enhanced entrepreneurial opportunities for the State System, and enable the universities to offer new advanced-degree programs that will directly address workforce needs. The legislation, which was signed by Governor Tom Corbett in July, was designed specifically to assist PASSHE in these areas.

The legislation will make it easier for PASSHE faculty and staff to bring to market products and services they develop through their research efforts. Some could, in fact, create their own companies, providing students with new internship and career opportunities. The change in the law also could provide a new source of revenue for the universities.

All 14 universities also are now allowed to offer applied doctoral degrees, which are advanced degrees designed to prepare graduates for careers in fields such as healthcare, pharmaceutical product development and other high-demand areas.

The workshops will be held Thursday at West Chester University of Pennsylvania; October 16 at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; and October 23 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The 11 other PASSHE universities will be able to view the presentations remotely. Each will host a reception and viewing of one of the three workshops, to which they will invite representatives of their local business community.

Speakers at the workshops will include PASSHE Chancellor Dr. John C. Cavanaugh; Dr. Ronald J. Huss, associate vice president for research and technology transfer and director of the Office of Technology Management at Pennsylvania State University; and Jim Rooney, president and partner of Advanced Manufacturing Technology Ventures (AMTV) of Wexford.

Looming retirement costs, changing demographics among challenges facing PASSHE

Faced with both a changing economic landscape and shifting demographics, PASSHE leadership is working to ensure the long-term sustainability of the State System, and to make certain students have continued access to high-quality, affordable education. One overriding fact is central to this effort: students and their families now cover nearly two-thirds of the universities’ costs through tuition and fees.

The many challenges facing the System include:

         The same retiree obligation problems that face not only of the Commonwealth, but also nearly every other state and most municipalities in the nation. In PASSHE’s case, retiree healthcare obligations currently total $1.4 billion, which equals the entire annual operating budget of the System. If this problem is not addressed, PASSHE cannot guarantee that funds will be there in the future to cover the need.

         Changing demographics in the Commonwealth, which are altering the composition of applicants to PASSHE universities. By the end of the decade it is projected 18,000 fewer students will be graduating from Pennsylvania high schools each year. Currently, nearly 90 percent of PASSHE students are Pennsylvania residents. While the number of potential traditional age students is declining, the System is projecting an increase in returning adult students.

         An increasingly competitive higher education marketplace in Pennsylvania.

         Changes in the how, where and when students learn, and the expectation of 24x7 availability of content and resources. Prestigious universities such as Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and the University of Michigan, among others, are creating free courses available to anyone, resulting in a changing dynamic inside and outside of the classroom.

Workforce Development: Building Pennsylvania’s future

Kutztown University SBDC helps ‘jump start’ Hispanic businesses

In the fall of 2011 the time was right for Marilu Rodriguez to launch a law firm that could cater to the Hispanic community of Reading. RB Legal Counsel LLC, a fully bilingual enterprise, joined Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s jump start incubator in February.

RB Legal Counsel, which specializes in counseling businesses and entrepreneurs on intellectual property law and business law, works primarily with local start-ups and entrepreneurs. The law firm’s goal is to assist new businesses with all of their legal needs while eliminating the language barrier that traditionally exists between monolingual law firms and Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs. Rodriguez’s services help local clients develop their values, manage risk and make smart and appropriate choices as they become established and grow.

The incubator’s location allows the firm to work out of brand-new facilities in the heart of Reading, close to its clients and three blocks from the Court House. The space also gives Rodriguez a convenient, professional place to meet with clients. Currently, the incubator is helping to expand the law firm’s network and offers guidance on the non-legal side of the business. Rodriguez says that being in the incubator has been very helpful in quickly increasing her network, gaining visibility and making some key connections. 

“This program is a great opportunity,” she says. “It forces you to think in an organized way and work on all of the facets of the business. It helps you to evaluate your strengths and work on your weaknesses.”

Rodriguez says the incubator has been instrumental in helping her develop a business plan, as well as in generating marketing material for RB Legal Counsel and identifying which publications will attract potential new clients. Over the next few years, the incubator staff will work with RB Legal Counsel to establish the business in the community and to build a steady clientele of local entrepreneurs and small businesses. In the near future it plans to expand and employ an administrative assistant and a paralegal.

The Jump Start Incubator is managed by the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and is supported through the Small Business Administration’s Jobs Act funding. The incubator facility allows the SBDC to provide enhanced services on a weekly basis to each on-site client. Applications for admission can be obtained through the

For more information on the KU SBDC, please click here.

Lock Haven partners with CPI to provide workforce training for natural gas industry

Lock Haven University, a ShaleNET certified training provider, recently partnered with the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, to run their first ShaleNET CDL certification. A commercial driver’s license is required for many jobs in the natural gas industry. The Class A CDL permits the license holder to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.

ShaleNET is funded by a grant awarded under the Community-Based Job Training Grants as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. Although open to everyone, the ShaleNET grant focuses on getting the unemployed, dislocated, underemployed, low-income, youth, and veterans employment in the natural gas industry in jobs with a clear career pathway that offers family-sustaining wages.

To read more, please click here.

Student Success: It’s what PASSHE is all about

PASSHE internship program offers students opportunity to experience state government

The Harrisburg Internship Semester (THIS) program provides students from Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities the opportunity to work in all areas of state government while earning a full semester’s worth of credits. More than 500 students from PASSHE universities have participated in THIS since the program began in 1989, each gaining valuable insight into the workings of state government at the policy-making level. Interns have worked with dozens of state agencies, as well as in the offices of the governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the attorney general. Many of the program’s “graduates” have obtained jobs in state government or in other areas of public service.

This semester 15 students are participating in the program. The students, the university they are attending, and their assignments are:

Hayley Dunn (West Chester) – Department of State

Tyler Harris (Kutztown) – Rep. Peter Daley

Jelaina Jones (Mansfield) – Office of the Attorney General

Jeff Kazlauskas (Edinboro) – Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning

Max Morelock (Shippensburg) – Department of Health, Office of Legislative Affairs

Frank Mulbah (Cheyney)- Sen. Vincent Hughes

Ross Nietert (California) – Department of Aging

Peter Reist (Millersville)- Board of Probation and Parole

Connor Rittwage (Lock Haven)- Department of Education, Policy Office

Gabrielle Scrofano (Clarion)- Senate Minority Research Office

Amanda Smith (East Stroudsburg)- Department of Environmental Protection

Tierney Smithson (Slippery Rock)- Joint State Government Commission

Thomas R. Stark Jr. (Lock Haven)- Center for Rural Pennsylvania

Tatiana Toro (Kutztown)- Speaker of the House Sam Smith

Gabrielle Vielhauer (Bloomsburg)- Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission


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