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As university integration moves forward, your voice matters

Last month, the Pennsylvania State System’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the process and next step for university integrations after Chancellor Dan Greenstein presented findings from an initial financial review of the proposed integrations. Together with Bloomsburg University and Mansfield University, we now begin work to develop an implementation plan, which could be presented to the Board as early as April 2021. The process, laid out in Act 50 of 2020, includes a 60-day public comment period and periodic updates to members of the General Assembly.

As this process moves forward, we will continue to keep our campus and local community up to date on the progress, process, and next steps. The goals of integration are many. The first and most important is creating more opportunities for students through access to a broader array of courses, disciplines, degrees, faculty, student services, internships, and hands-on learning. Integration is also about meeting the needs of our region’s workforce, developing non-credit programs and stackable credentials along with programs aimed specifically at adult learners. As we look to grow in new markets we are also focused on maintaining affordability and access-two hallmarks of an LHU degree. The proposed integration stands to reduce costs by leveraging the combined strengths of three universities and streamline our infrastructure.

As we embark on this next step and begin to turn our vision into a plan it’s important to know that we are just at the beginning of this process. This is the first mile of a marathon and there are many questions to answer along the way. There are however several things we know to be true that will not change.

1. LHU is not going away: The University we know today has seen many changes in its 150-year history. We have grown, evolved, and changed to meet the needs of students. From Normal School to State College to University, we have adapted with history and circumstance. We will keep evolving — and we should — so we may better serve current and future students. That is our number one mission and goal.

2. Current and prospective students will be able to start and finish their course of study at LHU: No matter what degree program a current student is pursuing, they will be able to finish that program and graduate from Lock Haven University. Integration will create more opportunities and options for prospective students. There’s never been a better time to be a student at LHU. You’ll be able to start, and finish your degree at The Haven at a time when new experiences and possibilities abound.

3. Integration will not lead to solely online classes: LHU students can continue to expect a traditional, residential campus experience at LHU with courses delivered on campus and with the close personal interaction of professors that is a hallmark of an LHU education. Integration will create many new opportunities to access courses, majors, minors, degrees, and stackable credentials. Some courses and programs may be conducted remotely or through hybrid modalities across the identified campuses. This is a model that LHU has undertaken with great success in the Physician Assistant and other programs.

Your voices-your thoughts, feedback, and ideas-are critical to shaping this new entity. This week LHU launched an integration website, available at www.lockhaven.edu/integration with information regarding the planning process and timeline, frequently asked questions, and an opportunity to share your comments and questions. I encourage you to visit the page, which will be updated as new information is available, and to reach out with questions regarding the process. I will continue to keep our community apprised of updates in the process and to address questions. We are in this process together and together we will continue to serve the students in our region and offer them a strong academic experience that will lead to a bright and prosperous future.

Dr. Robert Pignatello is president of Lock Haven University.

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