We were all surprised yesterday morning to learn that Dr. Angelo Armenti, the longest tenured university president in the state system, was no longer president at California University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Armenti’s departure comes in the aftermath of some damaging headlines, which may best be summarized in this Post-Gazette article. A statement today from the university Council of Trustees trumpets Dr. Armenti’s accomplishments in growing CalU from one of the smallest of the fourteen PASSHE schools to one of the largest, and doing so, in part, by having the foresight to be the first to build apartment-style student living spaces. Fair enough.
But the recent news coverage, and statements from local APSCUF, the local Senate, and the department chairs indicate that this growth and perceived prosperity was done at some cost. CalU leads the system by almost two standard deviations in the number of credit hours generated per faculty member; meanwhile, the news reports keep talking of budgetary shortfalls. How can the two go together? Another story cited a number of lawsuits from former employees. It is an open secret (since APSCUF documents are not in the public domain) that for several years the summary provided by APSCUF legal counsel to Legislative Assembly has identified Cal as the largest user of legal hours — by a multiples, not a mere handful. This all signals that all that “success” did not come without a price.
Now, Dr. Armenti is gone. There is no reason to pile on. Cal will move on without him — they have energetic students and skilled, professional faculty and coaches, and the commitment now from the Council, Board of Governors, and Chancellor to succeed. Interim President Jones will start with some “honeymoon” credit and may be able to bring a new tone to the community there.
One thing is certain: the PASSHE landscape looks different this morning than it did when we went to bed Wednesday night. Dr. Armenti, as the senior-most PASSHE president, sometimes spoke at Board meetings for that group; he leaves Dr. Cevallos as the senior president, having served 10 years, and a brace of brand new presidents and two other institutions currently searching for new ones. These are indeed fluid times in our system.