By Cody Straub-
It has been a year of changes for Penn State. A new football coach, a new president, and no Joe Paterno. Now Penn State is considering another major change for the university: switching from a public university to a private university. Penn State trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz called it, “the Cornell model,” in a recent report.
The reason Penn State is considering the option of becoming a private University officials say is because PA Governor Tom Corbett warned Penn State to open its records to the public or he will cut off their taxpayer funding.
“I hope if Penn State goes private it doesn’t affect the tuition too much,” said senior Ian Toomey, who will be attending Penn State next year.
Currently, Penn State benefits from exemptions to some parts of the state’s Right to Know law. The law’s agenda is the following: “Providing for access to public information, for a designated open-records officer in each Commonwealth agency, local agency, judicial agency and legislative agency,” according to PA Freedom of Information Coalition.
So what records does Penn State have that they want to keep out of the public’s eyes?
With the recent child abuse scandal at Penn State involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, Penn State may want to keep the records involving the scandal private and not comply with the Right to Know Law. These could include records for court cases involving Sandusky, and current and former employers who will stand trial for related charges in the scandal.
Peetz stressed that this decision will not be rushed and no changes should be expected in the near future.
“The Cornell model is of great interest. But this can’t be rushed. I don’t think that’s going to be a quick decision,” said Peetz in a recent article in The Patriot News.
Penn State officials have already met with officials from Cornell University, which used to be a public university, but changed to a private school. Cornell though still receives some New York state aid for four of its colleges for research and teaching.
“It was only a discussion of ideas and nothing more,” said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers of the meeting.
People involved with Penn State want to know what changes they will face if Penn State decides to go private.
One definite impact, according to the article in The Patriot News, is the cost of tuition to attend to Penn State.
Senator Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican, stated in the article that, “Trustees would move away from setting tuition based on what students could afford and shift to how much they’re willing to pay.”
Matt Brouillette, president of the conservative-leaning Commonwealth Foundation, thinks Penn State going private is a great idea, and that tuition price will not change drastically.
“We obviously know higher-education subsidies don’t lead to lower tuition, so eliminating those subsidies is not going to directly affect tuition costs,” Brouillette said in a recent article in The Patriot News.
Currently the tuition at Penn State for Pennsylvania residents is about $15,250, about ten thousand dollars less compared to tuition for out of state residents. Because Cornell still receives some aid from the stat of New York their in state and out of state tuition also differ. A new York resident pays about $27,000 in tuition compared to $ 43,000 for out of state students.
Under Governor Corbett’s proposed budget Penn State will receive a 30 percent cut in state funding. This fact makes the idea of going private more plausible because Penn State is relying less and less on state funding to help off set costs.
In a year of change for Penn State a major decision now looms over the university. Will they continue to operate as a public university and receive state funding? Or, will they switch to a private university and follow the “Cornell Model?” Only time will tell.