Rep. Mike Hanna | Brogan good fit for state education system

As a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors, I welcome our newest chancellor, Frank Brogan, to the commonwealth on Oct. 1.

I am excited to work with such a well-qualified educator and administrator who brings with him a wealth of experience from the Sunshine State, where he had led the 335,000-student State University System of Florida since 2009.

In that position, he led the development of a new strategic plan that includes 39 distinct benchmarks — an integral part of Florida’s new nationally recognized accountability framework that tracks progress of university and system goals.

The university system increased enrollment by 7 percent, increased degree production by 12 percent and saw record high attainment in academic standards, graduation rates, national rankings and research.

He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in education from the University of Cincinnati and Florida Atlantic University. His academic career began in 1978 as a teacher at Port Salerno Elementary School in Martin County, Fla.

After working his way up through the Martin County school system — including serving six years as superintendent — he was elected Florida’s commissioner of education in 1995.

He later served as president of Florida Atlantic University and lieutenant governor of Florida.

Brogan seems to be a truly genuine and good man who will serve our commonwealth and its college students well.

Under the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett, state support for Pennsylvania’s SSHE universities in the past three years is lower than before he took office. This is despite the fact that Corbett’s own hand-picked Commission on Postsecondary Education issued a report in November 2012 that recommended establishing a long-term finance and accountability funding model.

As a result of Corbett’s budget cuts, you may have heard that Clarion University recently announced plans to eliminate its College of Education in an effort to cut costs. I’m sure that was not an easy decision for university officials to make.

Cuts like those at Clarion would not be necessary if Republicans in the state House of Representatives had agreed to the House Democratic budget amendment that would have begun a three-year restoration of the Corbett education cuts.

Unfortunately, the Republicans voted in lock-step and defeated the pro-education amendment.

I’m confident that in coming budget years Chancellor Brogan will work with the Pennsylvania General Assembly, as he did in Florida, to ensure that our state schools are not left behind.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education not only educates our young adults; it directly contributes more than $1.6 billion a year to Pennsylvania’s economy and is the 13th largest employer with more than 12,000 employees.

It is estimated that SSHE campuses also support more than 44,000 jobs and have graduated 500,000 current alumni who earn $7 billion in aggregate income in Pennsylvania every year.