The Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has selected Frank T. Brogan, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, to serve as PASSHE’s next chancellor. He will assume the position on October 1.
The selection of Mr. Brogan to serve as the fourth chancellor in PASSHE’s nearly 31-year history comes at the conclusion of a six-month-long search that attracted interest from several hundred potential candidates.
“We were humbled with the level of interest in the chancellor’s position,” said Board of Governors Chairman Guido M. Pichini, who chaired the search committee. “We received several hundred inquiries from individuals throughout the United States and even some from outside the country. It demonstrates the high regard with which our system is held.”
The chancellor search focused on recruiting an “experienced leader who, from day one, can guide the System through the rapidly changing higher education landscape,” Mr. Pichini said. “We were looking for a strong administrator and a transformational leader who will collaborate with traditional and non-traditional stakeholders representing divergent views on what is best for our students and their families.
“Frank Brogan will be that leader.” Mr. Pichini continued. “He has had an impressive record of success throughout his career. He understands the many complexities and challenges facing public higher education and the vital role public universities play both in preparing students for a lifetime of their own success and in ensuring the economic vitality of the state. We are excited about him becoming our next chancellor.”
Prior to serving as chancellor of Florida’s 335,000-student public university system, Mr. Brogan was president of Florida Atlantic University, lieutenant governor of Florida and Florida’s Commissioner of Education.
“I am excited to join PASSHE in its commitment to provide high-quality, affordable higher educational opportunities for Pennsylvania’s families. Balancing quality and accessibility has been my top priority in Florida and should be the mission of every good public university,” said Mr. Brogan.
Widely recognized in Florida for his lifelong career in education, Mr. Brogan said he is excited about this new opportunity. “My family and I are looking forward to writing this next chapter of our lives in Pennsylvania—working with these 14 remarkable universities as they help shape the future of this great Commonwealth,” he said.
Mr. Brogan holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in education from the University of Cincinnati and Florida Atlantic University. His academic career began in 1978 as a teacher at Port Salerno Elementary School in Martin County, Fla. After working his way up through the Martin County School System—including serving six years as superintendent—he was elected Florida’s Commissioner of Education in 1995.
As commissioner, he spearheaded passage of a law to strengthen criminal background checks for all educators and led the effort to establish the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. Mr. Brogan continued his advocacy of education issues as lieutenant governor — steering education policy as legislative liaison for Governor Jeb Bush.
Upon assuming the presidency of Florida Atlantic University in 2003, Mr. Brogan’s top priority was to elevate academic standards at the institution, which resulted in stricter admissions criteria, higher retention rates and improved time-to-degree. He also helped raise more than $120 million in private funds and matching grants for the university, while increasing its focus on research and establishing a four-year medical education program.
Mr. Brogan took office as Florida's chancellor in 2009—a time of deep acrimony between the Florida Legislature and the Board of Governors. His tenure brought a welcome sense of stability for the system. Relationships with the Florida Legislature have been restored as evidenced by this year’s reversal of a previous $300 million budget cut and the addition of more than $400 million in new funding for operations, facilities and maintenance.
The board and legislature have worked together to implement a number of priorities, including establishing a path for universities to reach “preeminent” status and creating the nation's first fully online institute operated by a public research university. Mr. Brogan led the development of a new strategic plan that includes 39 distinct benchmarks — an integral part of Florida’s new nationally recognized accountability framework that tracks progress of university and system goals. The university system increased enrollment by 7 percent, increased degree production by 12 percent and saw record high attainment in academic standards, graduation rates, national rankings and research.
Mr. Brogan also led the Florida system’s efforts to develop a performance funding program with goals similar to those of PASSHE’s nationally recognized model. The program utilizes key measures to reward universities for excellence and improved performance in areas that support both the institutions’ unique missions and systemwide goals for improved quality, accessibility and accountability.
PASSHE was one of the first public university systems in the nation to voluntarily adopt performance funding for its universities when it did so more than a decade ago. The program remains a centerpiece of the State System’s accountability efforts.
Florida education leaders offered high praise for Mr. Brogan’s work over the past four years:
“Florida’s university system has experienced a renaissance, and we want to thank Chancellor Brogan for his leadership, commitment and vision as he worked side-by-side with the Board of Governors to move us forward. As a public servant, Frank Brogan is Florida's top export, and we will all miss him,” said Board Chair Dean Colson of Miami.
University of North Florida President John Delaney said that because Mr. Brogan had been a university president, he understands the front-line challenges that universities face. “Pennsylvania is getting a good person, a great chancellor and a remarkable leader. He knows the realities of daily life on campus and can translate that knowledge into good public policy,” said Mr. Delaney.
During his interview, Mr. Brogan made presentations to various constituency groups that participated in the PASSHE selection process, including university presidents and trustees, union leaders and representatives of community and business groups. He talked about the important role public universities play in their communities, including serving as “engines of economic development that can transform a flagging economy as they fulfill their primary mission centered on teaching and learning, service and discovery.”
“An important role for the Chancellor is to be the system’s number-one advocate for securing the resources that our faculty and staff need to deliver the world-class experience our students deserve,” Mr. Brogan said. “That means making a case for reinvestment in our university system. With good data and clear communication, we can continue to demonstrate to our partners in the General Assembly and in the community that PASSHE institutions provide an impressive return on investment.”
Gov. Tom Corbett congratulated Mr. Brogan on his selection and said he looked forward to working with him as PASSHE’s next chancellor.
“I feel confident that he will lead PASSHE on its continuing mission of providing accessible, affordable and top quality education for our students, preparing them to compete in the global economy for job opportunities in the future,’’ the governor said.
Mr. Pichini expressed his gratitude to all of the individuals who assisted the search committee, including those who met with the candidates and provided their input prior to the selection. “The efforts of those who took the time to participate helped ensure the search and selection process was a success,” he said.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 115,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and the Philadelphia Multi University Center in Philadelphia.