Baker’s Higher Education Modernization Act to Benefit Mansfield University, All 14 State-Owned Universities Headed to Governor’s Desk

HARRISBURG – A package of bills that would update laws governing the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities to enhance economic development opportunities and establish applied doctorate programs has been approved by both the state House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature to become law, said Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga), the architect behind the package and a member of the PASSHE Board of Governors.

“I was inspired to author the legislation after several discussions and meetings with the chancellor of PASSHE and officials at Mansfield University, who want the ability to increase the school’s economic opportunities and to offer a wider field of higher education opportunities through applied doctorate programs,” said Baker.

The package of bills repeals some outdated laws so that faculty would be able to participate in entrepreneurial activities. This would open the door for the development of potential commercial products and services and put PASSHE schools on a more level playing field with other higher education institutions. In addition, PASSHE would be in a better position to recruit creative faculty and staff, provide students internship opportunities and be mentored by entrepreneurs.

“It is also worth pointing out that the legislation would allow university employees to engage in fundraising activities with private-affiliated entities, such as the alumni association or organizations providing scholarships, that can benefit students, the university or the state,” said Baker. “Currently under the law, university employees are prohibited from raising funds for these entities.”

In addition, PASSHE schools would be permitted to offer applied doctorates, which would draw a wider field of potential students to the schools.

“By permitting the schools to provide applied doctorates, we can increase student enrollment and compete with what some of the private higher education institutions are offering,” said Baker. “Today, it is all about choices. If we can relax some of the regulations that are pigeon-holing the PASSHE schools, we will be able to see them really flourish and better meet student needs.”

The package of bills includes House Bill 1343, sponsored by Baker; Senate Bill 1308, sponsored by Sen. Robert Tomlinson (R-Bucks); and Senate Bill 1322, sponsored by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster/York).

The bills are expected to be signed by the governor in the coming days.

State Representative Matt Baker
68th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tricia Lehman

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