Interim chancellor Whitney visits Cal U


Photo of Interim Chancellor Karen M. Whitney courtesy of Cal U of PA Public Relations.

Rachael Kriger, Editor In Chief

After holding the office of president at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Karen M. Whitney has taken over as the interim chancellor for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

“With a lot of thought and interest, and love of the system and Pennsylvania, I accepted,” Whitney said.

Whitney has numerous jobs in the position, but clarified that keeping all 14 universities open is a must.

“They’re vibrant and important to the Commonwealth,” Whitney said, during her visit to California University of Pennsylvania on Thursday. “It is my vision as chancellor that they will continue to succeed.”

“All are important, all are distinctive.”

Whitney said that there are five universities – including Cal U – that posted increases in enrollment. However, that’s not her priority.

Whitney’s priority is strategic planning.

“The point isn’t the universities’ enrollment going up and down,” Whitney said. “It’s about the strategic plan, and how to pursue and achieve their mission. The question you should ask, if I may be so bold, is your enrollment where you desire it to be. More sometimes isn’t always better.”

According to the interim chancellor, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is decreasing their enrollment due to a strategic plan.

Whitney also mapped out three priorities for the universities in the state system: ensuring student success, leveraging the strengths of the 14 universities to advance the Commonwealth and transforming governance and leadership “to achieve points one and two.”

“We’ve got game,” Whitney said.

The interim chancellor noted that she talked to students on campus during the Liberal Arts Festival at the Manderino Library and students in Student Government.

Whitney praised the relationship between students and faculty/staff.

“Students love the faculty and staff,” Whitney explained. “They feel an extraordinary of sense, care and voice. At the same time, they’re very clear that they need to work really hard to achieve the expectations of the faculty.”

“I also heard from the faculty and staff, that that’s why they’ve stayed here,” she continued. “They’re here because they have that ethic of care, and they can practice that here. They very much appreciate a dedicated leadership, the ethic of care and the way the university has evolved. Things that need to be changed is that there’s a great story and needs to be told.”

Whitney explained that 90 percent of students in PASSHE schools are from Pennsylvania. For graduating students, Whitney said that 89 percent are working full-time jobs and 82 percent are working jobs directly related to their program of study.

Whitney also stressed that 72 percent of students are working in Pennsylvania after their graduation. She cited a survey conducted by the state in Spring 2015.

“Our students are good, hard-working students,” Whitney said. “And they’re Pennsylvanians. They’re working hard to make their dream come true.”

“I think that’s a good investment.”

Even though she was formerly a president at Clarion, Whitney said she’s looking forward to helping all 14 state schools.

In regards to Cal U, Whitney complimented the staff, faculty, students and the beauty of the campus.

“It’s a beautiful setting, which I think is important because it enables students to be ready to learn,” Whitney said.

Whitney also explained that a national search for a permanent chancellor will take place this year, and a possible confirmation will occur next summer.

Whitney said she is not interested in the full-time position.

“I’m a sprinter,” Whitney said. “I’m very intense to this task this year. I will serve until the new person comes on board.”

Whitney is still finishing up her tours of the 14 schools. Cal U was her seventh visit since Sept. 12, the date of her appointment.

Whitney finished off her meeting going back to the students.

“Our job is to make life-changing experiences. After meeting your students, they are ready to take on the world.”