If Pa. state universities merge, how will their most vulnerable students fare?

When the system board casts what could be a historic vote, members and others will have hashed and rehashed the mergers’ impact on athletics, on massive construction debt, suitable pathways to careers and whether Pennsylvania’s Legislature and governor are to blame for the predicament by underfunding the state’s universities for so long.

But another consideration — if perhaps less visible — involves the system’s most vulnerable students — the underrepresented minorities, first-generation students and the poor. Staff like Mr. Croskey work under already strained campus budgets to keep a double-digit graduation and persistence gap — 20% or more in some cases — from getting worse.

How will those students fare once support and advising are combined at California, Clarion and Edinboro universities in the west and Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield universities in the northeast?

Asked that question at a board workshop recently, State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein offered what arguably is his most remarkable prediction yet.

Read more from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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