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State System Chancellor John Cavanaugh spoke today to the Pennsylvania Press Club, a monthly luncheon series that features elected officials and other leaders discussing hot topics in national and state government. Since Gov. Corbett introduced his budget in March and proposed slashing higher education funding, there is no hotter topic in state government right now.

Cavanaugh took the invitation to speak as an opportunity to highlight the high-profile programs located at each of the 15 PASSHE schools and recognize the faculty and staff that have built these programs. He also emphasized the following:

  • About 90 percent of the system’s 120,000 students are Pennsylvania residents;
  • More than 80 percent of graduates stay in Pennsylvania;
  • The State System schools are the best value out there for students pursuing a four-year degree in Pennsylvania.

During a brief question-and-answer session moderated by Harrisburg Patriot-News reporter Jan Murphy, Cavanaugh sidestepped answering whether he would volunteer to take a pay cut or freeze and emphasized that the Board of Governors sets his compensation package. Cavanaugh also declined to answer whether administrators would be asked to return their recent raises, as has been proposed for the AFSCME workers at the State System.


On the topic of whether higher education funding should follow the student as Gov. Corbett has been advocating, Cavanaugh offered a more detailed response. He noted that Pennsylvania has operated under a hybrid model of funding – with billions in federal, state and private dollars going directly to students as grants and loans­­ – for several decades. Another state, Colorado, had tried to move away from direct funding for public universities, but the model forced their state schools to shift toward larger numbers of out-of-state enrollees, and it was quickly abandoned.

There’s more coverage of the Chancellor’s talk on the APSCUF Twitter feed. You can watch the Chancellor’s Press Club discussion on PCN (check your local cable listings) Monday night at 8:30 p.m. or Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. You can also check the PCN website for the video.