Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rescuing Troubled Cheyney U. Task Force Makes Recommendations to Save Historic College

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rescuing Troubled Cheyney U. Task Force Makes Recommendations to Save Historic College

Article excerpt

Cheyney University, one of the nation's oldest historically black colleges, would remain an independent, degree-granting institution under recommendations that a task force agreed Thursday to forward to the State System of Higher Education, officials said.

But the 180-year-old institution, on financial life support and hemorrhaging enrollment, would have to adopt a significantly revised business model. It would have to re-examine the size of its workforce and consider tearing down some buildings and selling off some of the 625 acres of land it owns on and off Cheyney's campus near Philadelphia, State System spokesman Kenn Marshall said.

It also would have to consider eliminating NCAA teams in favor of club and intramural sports, as part of a wider look at ways the school can live within its means.

The task force's recommendations were expected this month, although some within the state system did not expect a vote this week. The unanimous vote came near the conclusion of a campus forum that ran about 90 minutes and drew 100 or so people.

The blueprint will be forwarded to the system's board of governors for additional discussion and then a vote, Mr. Marshall said. The board's next scheduled meeting is not until mid-July.

The campus task force was announced in February after the state system approved the latest in a series of emergency lines of credit totaling nearly $31 million since 2012 so Cheyney could meet payroll and keep its doors open.

The future of the campus is being decided as the state system undergoes a strategic review of all 14 member universities, many of which are reeling from enrollment losses, rising costs and lagging state aid.

Cheney supporters have expressed profound concern that the school might be closed or its identity would be lost.

"There was absolutely no discussion of Cheyney changing to anything other than a four-year degree-granting institution," Mr. Marshall said by phone after the session. He said merging with another institution was never discussed.

The recommendation includes proposed creation of an applied research institute in areas including social activism and social justice, officials said. …

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