Bill to expand voices in higher education governance passes PA House

HARRISBURG, July 2 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation (H.B. 1168) introduced by state Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, to enhance the governance structure of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

"With continued conversations about higher education policy and how our State System operates, it is time to ensure that employees' voices have an official place in those discussions," said Briggs. "This bill recognizes the contributions of faculty and staff and ensures their perspectives are included in decision-making processes that affect the entire state system."

This bill proposes the addition of voting seats for faculty and staff on the PASSHE Board of Governors, ensuring that the voices of those who work within the system are formally recognized and represented.

Under the current structure, the legislature, administration, business community, and students all hold voting seats on the board, in addition to a non-voting faculty liaison position that was recently created to serve board. However, faculty and staff, who are integral in the day-to-day operations and success of PASSHE institutions, do not have a voting presence.

The bill would guarantee that representatives from AFSCME and APSCUF, the two labor organizations with the largest memberships within PASSHE, have seats on the Board of Governors.

Briggs said their inclusion is valuable as these employees have been instrumental in operationalizing the system's redesign over the past four years and because they offer a unique and valuable perspective on higher education policy and system operations.

“House Bill 1168 represents a significant step forward in promoting equitable and inclusive governance within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education,” Briggs said. “The introduction of this legislation reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that all voices are heard and that the future of higher education in Pennsylvania is shaped by those who are directly involved in its success.”