Public comment opens on proposed Pennsylvania university mergers

The public comment period for the merger of six Pennsylvania universities into two started today.

The first two of four sessions focus on the plan to merge Clarion, Edinboro and Cal U.

During Wednesday's morning session, around 20 people spoke - all but one against the plan, including Cal U professor Lynne Langley.

"Please, at least put the brakes on," she said. "Think what you're going to be doing to our students that don't have good access to online."

Speakers like Cal U grad Fred Smith felt the process was moving too quickly and were concerned a merger would eliminate beloved programs and activities.

"I fear that these specialized niche skills will kind of fall to the wasteside when we move online as we consolidate," said Smith.

Edinboro professor Roger Wolbert said "The plan is something that I currently am not proud of. Let's slow down and let's do more reflection on lasting effects so that we don't have regrets."

At the end of the session, Board of Governors Chair Cindy Shapira said it's clear better communication is needed. "A lot of the comments we think we've addressed and clearly we haven't."

There was also concern about too great an emphasis on online learning.

Marc Stempka - a Cal U grad - was the only speaker in the first session who approved.

"The state system needs to be right-sized for the future and for online education," he explained.

A second virtual session is scheduled for 4:30.