PLBC applauds plan to forgive Cheyney University debt

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, applauded the board of governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s plan to forgive Cheyney University of more than $30 million in loans.

Harris said, “I am thankful that the stewards of this nation’s first historically black college have demonstrated their desire and will to take another step in ensuring that the people of this great state continue to have in their treasure chest the crown jewel of black college life. Saving Cheyney is not just the moral responsibility of the university’s governing bodies, but a centerpiece in preserving one of the greatest incubators of black intellect in the region. It is important that those responsible for this effort are applauded by those who have and will continue to benefit from this great institution. It is also of critical importance to remember that this is only one of the many steps needed to ensure that this illustrious university is returned to prominence.”

“I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Cindy Shapira, the chair of the board of governors, for her leadership and action in preserving the legacy of our nation’s oldest historically black college.”

Harris, along with state Sen. Vincent Hughes, is a member of the Cheyney University task force. Both Harris and Hughes have been outspoken advocates of saving Cheyney University’s accreditation and worked on the task force’s report of recommendations for reinventing Cheyney University into a 21st century historically black college.

Hughes said, “I would like to personally thank PASSHE Board Chair Cindy Shapira, and the PASSHE board for their commitment to America's oldest HBCU, Cheyney University. Their action yesterday sends a positive message about the recent steps taken at Cheyney to make significant administrative changes along with a reimagining of the university that is completely necessary. Now it is time for all of us to rally around Cheyney University and dig deep and provide the appropriate support to move Cheyney to become the 21st century institution of higher education that our children and this nation needs."

State Sen. Sharif Street said, “I am pleased that our collective efforts to strengthen Cheyney University have proven successful. Governor Tom Wolf’s forgiveness of 30 million dollars of debt for Cheyney is a sound investment to help secure the future of the nation’s oldest HBCU and the students of Pennsylvania."

Harris said, “While the house is no longer on fire, the embers are still smoldering. To ensure the safety of this university, we must continue to act swiftly. Forgiving the more than $30 million in loans is only partial justice for the state system’s history of underfunding the school. I will continue to work with the task force to see that Cheyney is just as competitive as our other state-owned schools.”