The chancellor for higher education is visiting all 14 state-operated universities in Pennsylvania.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -- One of Judy Hample's concerns when she came to Pennsylvania was that the state-run universities were among those that had some of the highest tuition costs compared with other state-operated schools across the country.
Then Hample, named chancellor of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education in August, took a closer look.
"I think tuition and fees are always contextual," said Hample, who visited Slippery Rock University on Friday as part of a tour of all 14 state-operated universities.
Hample noted that though the state's tuition rates for residents are the fourth-highest nationwide among state-operated schools, those fees are far less than the private colleges and universities in Pennsylvania that the state schools are competing with for students.
"Coming in I was very concerned we were pricing ourselves outside the market. Now it is unequivocally clear that we are the best buy for the money in Pennsylvania," she said.
Hample called the tuition rates extremely affordable when matched with the state's education assistance program, which provides grants and loans to college students.
Slippery Rock officials pointed out that one year's tuition, not including room and board, is $3,900 for Pennsylvania residents. That cost increases for those who live in other states.
Listened, too: Hample listened to students and faculty about their concerns. As part of her tour, she has visited eight of the 14 state-run universities and intends to wrap up her visits by the end of the year.
Hample said her goals as chancellor include providing a strong voice for public higher education in the state and enhancing undergraduate programs.
She dodged questions about proposals of name changes for state universities, saying that she is not interested in changing the names of all 14 schools, but she wouldn't "close the door" if an appropriate offer was presented.
Name change: California University of Pennsylvania underwent turmoil recently when the school president proposed renaming the school after a wealthy donor. The name change was abandoned when it was heavily criticized by students, alumni and faculty.
Hample said she also plans to examine policies concerning tuition costs for out-of-state residents and revisions in formulas used to disburse state money to the universities.