CLARION – Clarion, California and Edinboro universities are forming a partnership that could change the face of higher education in Western Pennsylvania, the schools announced on Monday.

Under PASSHE’s plan for System Redesign, the universities will “affiliate, build on their institutional strengths in order to expand high-quality educational opportunities for students throughout the region and beyond, position themselves for growth, and create greater efficiencies.”

“An integration that includes California, Clarion and Edinboro will provide great opportunities for our current and future students,” said Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, president of Clarion University. “In addition to supporting our traditional and legacy face-to-face residential programs, we’ll work collaboratively to create an online program that is truly unique.”

In July, the State System’s Board of Governors authorized a financial review of potential integrations between three pairs of State System schools — California/Clarion, Edinboro/Slippery Rock and Lock Haven/Mansfield — with the understanding that data and analysis would drive the process and could point toward alternative combinations.

Early results of that review suggest that three-school affiliations could hold greater promise, according to System officials, all while honoring the local identity and traditional face-to-face programming of each institution.

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PASSHE’s initial plan for university integrations paired California and Clarion, two schools with a history of offering nationally recognized online programs, to stand up a low-cost, high-quality online undergraduate degree and degree-completion program.

“Edinboro is a welcome contributor to that initiative and to the trio’s collective efforts to enhance opportunities for students in Pennsylvania and beyond,” the press release states. “The three universities already share successful academic programs and, collectively, serve more than 16,000 students.”

“A partnership among California, Clarion and Edinboro has the potential to create a powerhouse,” said Geraldine Jones, president of California University of Pennsylvania. “Collectively, we would be among the largest providers of higher education in Western Pennsylvania. Through collaboration, we can serve our region even better, meeting the needs of all who will benefit from access to affordable, high quality education.”

The three universities already collaborate on a limited number of academic programs. The schools are like-minded partners, their presidents said, with similar missions, goals and campus cultures.

“This combination will be a good fit for all three universities, given their histories of serving students with diverse economic backgrounds and offering them transformative experiences that lead them to places they may never have imagined,” said Edinboro University President Guiyou Huang. “We’re excited about the possibilities presented by this partnership and what we might achieve together.”

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