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The new chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education visited the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus Friday and spoke about his goals for the system and proper decision-making before taking questions from the audience.
On a tour of the 14 state schools, Chancellor Frank Brogan requested an hour-long open forum,
which was attended by more than 100 students, faculty and staff members at 11:30 a.m. in Wallwork Hall.
Brogan arrived a few minutes late and joked briefly with the students in the audience.
“I wonder how many of you thought, ‘How long do I have to wait for a chancellor before I
can leave?’ when you were told we’d be late,” Brogan said.
He spoke briefly about the scenic beauty of Indiana but then jumped into discussing the
topic at hand.
“You’ll get what I’ve got, all that I’ve got,” Brogan said.
Brogan told the crowd that he did not come to the commonwealth with all the knowledge and solutions, but his 37 years in the educational system in Florida has provided him a good base of reference.
“I have a lot of goals for the system,” Brogan said. “But my major goal is to try to help this system in the years to come so that these 14 schools become one strong system that is recognizable across the country.
“We should think about what the system will be like 25 years from now, not what it has looked like for the last 150 years.”
Brogan suggested evaluating the nature of online education.
“The thought that just by taking it online that you will have higher graduation rates and retention rates are folly,” Brogan said.
In order for nontraditional students to succeed they need to be offered the same services traditional students have, such as access to financial aid, information and assistance, advising, counseling and office hours with professors, Brogan said.
Brogan also said he thinks that before decisions are made or implemented they need to be good decisions based on solid data and research.
He recanted a personal anecdote of how when he was a boy the whole world changed the day he and his classmates were told they had to use the metric system and the old curriculum was tossed out.
“Here I am so many years later, and I still don’t know the metric system,” he said.
There are many examples of education jumping at new ideas without thinking of the importance of them and if they are grounded in solid research, Brogan said.
“Children are not laboratory rats, nor are college students,” he said.
“Therefore, the changes we make for this system going forward have got to be grounded in good research, good data and strong judgment before we put them in place on our campuses.”
Before ending the event, the chancellor was able to answer two questions from the audience.
A man asked the chancellor what more system involvement would mean for the structure of shared services already in place.
Brogan said he is for local control.
“I don’t live in Indiana, you do,” he said. “And, therefore you know the needs of this region better than anybody in Harrisburg. That is a fact.”
Brogan said he wants to learn all that he can about IUP, Indiana and the region so that he can understand how the university fits into the system.
But, there are times system impact is going to be felt.
“We’re still not in a vacuum; the things we do matter to other people,” he said.
“There is either direct impact or indirect impact.”
The job of shared services within the system is to join the schools together and see what potential impact the schools have on one another, Brogan said.
An international student asked about the financial aid issue facing international students.
According to Brogan, while it is certainly more expensive for foreign students if they are not being supported by their sending country, it’s not just an issue of affording to an international education but making sure the these students have the support services necessary for success.
“There are cultural issues they have to overcome,” he said.
“There are economic issues they have to deal with, and there are language issues that become a barrier if not dealt with.”
One student said she was hoping the question-and-answer segment would be longer.
“There wasn’t enough time for questions,” Ashley Hartung (junior, journalism) said.
Hartung was there as part of her presentation making class. Hartung commented that while Brogan’s speech was decent, he answered the audience questions in a round-about way.
“He bridged the questions,” she said. “He answered them the way he wanted to instead of directly answering the question.”
However, Hartung did say she has a good feeling about the new chancellor.
“I like him,” she said. “He has a lot of experience, and I hope he can help the PASSHE system.”
IUP President Michael Driscoll also shared his opinion of the new chancellor, saying that he is a leader who knows how all the pieces work together.
Driscoll also cited the many years Brogan spent within the educational system and the terms he served as lieutenant governor of Florida.
“He is certainly charming and engaging,” Driscoll said, “but the important thing people don’t always see is what he has to offer.”