Scarnati a leading advocate for Mansfield

PHOTO PROVIDED Sen. Joe Scarnati, third from left, is shown with Mansfield University President Fran Hendricks, second from left, and Mansfield students at a gathering in Harrisburg earlier this week.

From staff reports

Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Brockway) emphasized his continued support for ensuring the future success of Mansfield University this week.

Scarnati said he has been actively engaged in conversations with university President Fran Hendricks, PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan, and Mansfield students, trustees, alumni and faculty regarding the challenges facing the university.

One of these is falling enrollment, which many state universities have experienced, including Lock Haven University.

“Mansfield University has undoubtedly had a positive impact upon our region and the many past and present students who have called the campus home,” Scarnati said. “Providing quality educational opportunities within our region continues to be a top priority of mine. It is important that as we move forward we provide Mansfield and the other PASSHE schools with the flexibility they need to make positive changes to ensure their success for years to come.”

According to Scarnati, Brogan has assured him that at this time, closures of the universities will not take place. While PASSHE (the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education) is not looking at immediate closures, a great deal of attention has been drawn to the struggles facing many of the institutions. Two studies are currently underway, one by an outside firm and another by the state Senate.

“Mansfield must be given the tools they need to evolve with our changing times,” the senator said. “I have asked that Mansfield show the Legislature a plan to turn the situation around, and I am pleased that the university is putting a plan into action. President Hendricks has already been extremely proactive in his approach and is moving forward with consolidation of functions. He has also made it clear that incremental funding to attract students is a necessary part of Mansfield’s future success plan, which is something I will be fighting for in Harrisburg.”

Hendricks, ’79, expressed gratitude for Scarnati’s support of the university.

“Mansfield University is a difference-maker,” Hendricks said. “It changes lives through its array of high quality academic programs, affording its graduates opportunities previously unimagined. Sen. Scarnati is a champion of public higher education for the State of Pennsylvania. His support of Mansfield University has ensured this institution which is strategically located in Pennsylvania’s northern tier continues to serve as a center of educational excellence and workforce provider for the region it serves and the Commonwealth. I salute the senator’s efforts in helping us prepare Mansfield University for its next 160 years of making a difference in the lives of our students, their families and our great state.”

Scarnati also noted the Senate recently approved a resolution that requires an independent study of the future of PASSHE to be completed by the end of the year. Senate Resolution 34 requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the future and sustainability of the 14 state-owned universities across the state.

“The LBFC study will take place following the study that PASSHE is currently engaged in and will help us understand, from an unbiased perspective, why enrollment at certain universities is declining, what the urgent needs are and how we best move forward to ensure the students of Pennsylvania can receive a quality and affordable degree,” Scarnati said. “Mansfield is certainly an important part of our community and an institution that we want to see thrive for generations to come.”