The annual conference for the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees (PACT) was held March 24-25 at the Hershey Lodge. It was wonderful to see old friends and make new friends over those two days. Our topics and speakers were impressive. They supported our conference theme, "Trustees in Action." Those in attendance came away with a sense of urgency for the upcoming 90 days remaining in the current fiscal year.
PACT is asking all trustees to be an active voice by issuing a “call to action” during the next 90 days. We know trustees provide ample service to their universities by attending meetings, graduations, and programs; however, if you can do one item or if you can add one more item to your dedicated service, please make the call or write to your Representative and Senator to ask them to support the State System's funding request for the 2022-23 state budget.
Partner with Us!
The meeting kicked off with Representative Curt Sonney, Chair of the House Education Committee, who gave us background on the budget process and how the State System has made important changes of the past several years. His points and parting advice tied nicely with the advocacy presentation the next morning by Cody Jones and Randy Goin Jr. A point Chair Sonney closed with is that he never hears from his constituents about funding for higher education. He reiterated that constituent voices matter. He encouraged all trustees to reach out to their Pennsylvania Representatives and Senators in the next 90 days to ask them to support funding to the State System.
Cody Jones, the State System's Chief Strategic Relations Officer, encourages all trustees to visit the System’s
Advocacy Resource Center or contact your University President for assistance from their staff. Essentially, trustees need to act in the next 90 days to help the State System secure its funding request.
The new trustee orientation program presented by Randy Goin Jr., Deputy Chancellor, and Andy Lehman, Chief Counsel, was informative and very well attended. The presentation starts with PA’s higher education landscape as it relates to the State System, then moves to governance structures, roles and responsibilities, and closes with the status of
System Redesign. The slides summarize the major points and also serve as a review of trustee’s roles and responsibilities. (Presentation: System-Level Onboarding for University Trustees)
The Presidents panel, facilitated by President Daniel Wubah, Millersville University, and panelists President Dale Elizabeth Pehrsson, Clarion University, and President Bashar Hanna, Bloomsburg University, brought trustees up-to-date on
university integrations and the new allocation formula for appropriations. (Presentation: Aligning the Allocation Forumula for Student Success)
Next followed a presentation from Dr. Denise Pearson, Vice Chancellor and Chief DEI Officer, that ended with a robust discussion on how trustees can be involved in
DEI. All trustees are asked to read the
Board of Governors Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. One attendee felt that a key takeaway was “treat everyone with human dignity so our universities are welcoming.” (Presentation: DEI: Beyond Case Making)
Friday morning started out with goals and data on the state of higher education in Pennsylvania from Dr. Tanya Garcia. The Commonwealth has a Postsecondary Education Attainment goal of 60% by 2025. Although we have moved the needle in the right direction on college attainment, the Commonwealth is almost 20% short from accomplishing the goal in less than 3 years by being currently at 50.7% college attainment (60-50.7=9.3/50.7=20%). This presentation builds off of the DEI discussion of a culture of human dignity and the feeling of belonging based on the 11 social identities outlined in her presentation. (Presentation: Pennsylvania's Master Plan for Higher Education)
We had an update from the Dr. Jamie Martin, APSCUF President, that informed us on the struggles of faculty during COVID and how they responded to ensure a quality education for our students.
We closed with an update on the State System from Board of Governor’s Chair Cindy Shapira and Chancellor Dan Greenstein. We are coming into Stage 3 of the System Redesign. We have made significant progress and are coming into a full drive focus on enrollment and success for students. (Presentation: System Redesign: Purpose and Progress to Date.)
We had our PACT Annual Meeting where we thanked officers for their service and commitment to higher education. Jeff Smith, PACT President from 2018 to 2020, accepted his award and made the plea that trustees show their power with their voice. Jack Wabby, current PACT President, was unable to attend; however, we thank him for his leadership during the COVID era.
PACT announced officers commencing July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2024. Congrats to the following:
1st Vice President elect – Rich Frerichs, Millersville University Trustee
2nd Vice President elect – Mike Ross, Shippensburg University Trustee
Secretary – Mary Coploff, Lock Haven University Trustee
Treasurer – Karen Russell, Mansfield University Trustee
President Elect – Milissa Bauer, Clarion University Trustee
I hope each of you will be active by reaching out regarding State System funding so that the Commonwealth’s taxpayers have the opportunity to have the highest quality education at the lowest possible cost! So let’s hit the ground and see all "Trustees in Action" this year!
Thank you for all your time and support of the PACT, and we look forward to seeing many more of you at our summer and fall meetings.
Finally, I want to close with a special thank you to Charissa Williams who planned a wonderful experience for all trustees.
Milissa Bauer, President Elect of PACT