State System of Higher Education votes to freeze tuition for an unprecedented third consecutive year; launches strategy to foster diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)
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HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education took the historic step of freezing basic in-state tuition for a third consecutive year, affirming its commitment to keeping public higher education at its 14 universities affordable for students during the ongoing pandemic.
The Board’s unanimous vote keeps basic in-state tuition for undergraduate students in the 2021-22 academic year at $7,716. Also remaining the same will be the System’s technology fee for students, which stands at $478 for the academic year.
“I am proud to join my fellow Board members in prioritizing an accessible, affordable public higher education for our students,” said Cindy Shapira, chair of the Board of Governors. “A quality education and an affordable one go hand-in-hand at our universities. Students deserve our full support as they continue focusing on attaining a degree through the pandemic.”
Never before has the State System kept year-to-year basic in-state tuition the same for three years, something Chancellor Greenstein pointed to as essential to fulfilling public higher education’s mission.
“Sixty percent of jobs in Pennsylvania require a post-secondary degree, but only 47 percent of Pennsylvanians have one,” he said. “To help Pennsylvania build a modern-day economy, to remain a reliable pathway for students into and beyond the middle class, to ensure every Pennsylvanian who wants can access quality higher education, we must take bold action like today’s vote on tuition.”
In other action, the Board voted unanimously to approve a statement regarding its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), “ensuring the entire State System operates from a foundation of values” where the success of students, faculty, and staff are supported, universities are places where human dignity is never compromised, and ensuring the race and ethnicities of the entire System “reflect the diverse composition” of Pennsylvania.
“This is arguably the most important thing we will do because it so deeply affects the success of our students, our faculty, our staff, indeed our entire system,” said Shapira. “Our institutions have been working hard for decades to make their campuses more inclusive and diverse places to learn, live, and work, but until recently, we have not been in a position to truly leverage the power of being a system in order to advance DEI efforts farther and faster.”
The board’s DEI statement was the work product of the Board’s commission on diversity, equity, and inclusion that delivered a report outlining a range of recommendations for supporting DEI at every campus, in the Office of the Chancellor, and at the Board-level. The Board also affirmed a new DEI strategy with priorities and actions related to: addressing racial harassment and racist speech on campus; recruiting, nurturing, and retaining students, faculty and staff of color; enhancing mental health resources for all students; improving equity outcomes for all students; creating more inclusive communities; diversifying the curriculum; building a supportive infrastructure; and providing resources for all of these efforts.
“We must continue to look at every aspect and in every corner of the System, from our academic programming to our student cohort to the campus cultures we cultivate,” Greenstein said. “We are the state’s public higher education system, and as such, every student and employee—regardless of background—must feel welcomed and their success supported. We will hold ourselves accountable and ask the public to hold us accountable for living up to our ideals and values.”
The public can learn more about the System’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by visiting its DEI accountability dashboard at passhe.edu/DEI.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education oversees 14 four-year public universities educating more than 93,000 students. The State System offers more than 2,300 degrees and certificates in more than 530 academic areas. The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities of Pennsylvania.