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Who’s keeping PASSHE accountable?

The downsizing and integration of Lock Haven University is playing out like a tragedy, especially to those who bleed crimson.

Elimination of various programs of study.

Multiple layoffs of professors and staff (the most in the state system).

And the latest: Giving away 22 Steinway pianos.

LHU has become the unwanted poster child of integration within higher education in Pennsylvania.

A small college nestled along the Susquehanna, known over the ages for its teaching programs of study, then graduating to training future health-care professionals, including physician assistants and nurses.

Recreation managers and planners.

Business managers and entrepreneurs.

Computer geeks.

Scientists.

Mental health counselors.

In the last three years, longer term declining enrollment against increasing costs put LHU in the crosshairs of the state Legislature demanding a right-sizing of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

The bigger schools are winning out.

The Legislature passed legislation opening the door to PASSHE reconfiguring the 14 schools to cut costs, eliminate duplication of programs and staffing.

The PASSHE administration was given significant authority to make change and it’s doing just that after also being given unanimous approval by the state system Board of Governors.

The local university board of trustees is powerless — really has been all along based on PASSHE’s policies and protocols.

We’re surprised there hasn’t been a mutiny.

Our local state lawmakers have quietly sat by and watched all of this unfold, with barely a word — if any — of fight.

The PASSHE administration needs to be more accountable to what it’s doing at and to LHU.

And there needs to be some local involvement in decision-making. Is there?

The proud Crimson and White deserve a regular and transparent accounting of most every cost-cutting move being made.

It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Those brick and mortar buildings, the archway, the lawns and amphitheatre and the entire atmosphere up on the northwestern hill overlooking Lock Haven represent a special place to many, a place where lifelong friendships were forged, many couples met and built a life together.

Where education and hard work has brought a career and family.

The integration is a bitter pill to swallow, and it will remain that way for some time.

Anger over the loss of jobs and programs affecting families — affecting the community — continues to manifest and will linger.

The conversation must turn to the new LHU, as Chancellor Dan Greenstein said, a small but great university of 3,000 students. (www.lockhaven.edu says the college is at 2,920 right now.)

To PASSHE — and to the Legislature — that’s the feasible size of a future and sustainable Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania.

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