Monday, August 07, 2017

Help Us Save Cheyney University


                                          Help Us Save Cheyney University
                                                   Junious Ricardo Stanton

            On Tuesday August 1, 2017 Heeding Cheyney's Call an alumni coalition of which I am a proud founding member, along with distinguished clergy, elected officials such as Philadelphia Councilman David Oh, Congressman Dwight Evans, Karen Warrington from Congressman Brady's office, State Rep Stephen Kinsey and State Senator Vincent Hughes along with a hundred other concerned alumni, community and political activists held a press conference and rally outside the Philadelphia office of Governor Tom Wolf.
            The purpose of the rally was to persuade Gov. Wolf to become more involved in saving historic Cheyney University. I say more involved because since his inauguration in 2015 Gov. Wolf has voiced support for saving Cheyney and has assigned his staff  to work with Heeding Cheyney's Call to remedy its troubles. But now Cheyney is facing an existential crisis and only Gov. Wolf can save this venerable institution from imminent demise.
            We called on the Governor to directly intervene on Cheyney's behalf by calling the Middle States Commission on Higher Education whose offices are in Philadelphia and tell them the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has called for a search for a permanent president, that only letting a contract for a consulting firm to conduct the search is holding the process up. We also are asking Gov. Wolf to intervene and vouch for Cheyney's fiscal sustainability until a new administration can be put in place to put Cheyney on a solid financial footing.
            While by all accounts our rally was a huge success: we received excellent press coverage, we had a hundred people out in sweltering heat and received the verbal and written support of extremely influential people several who were unable to attend; we still need your help whether you have a Cheyney connection or not! We are asking folks to call or E-mail the offices of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf  (717) 787-2500, Fax (717) 772-8284 or write to him at Office of the Governor, 508 Main Capital Building Harrisburg, PA 17120 thanking him for his continued support of Cheyney but ask him not to sell Cheyney's land, cut back on degree programs and to notify Middle States he will vouch for Cheyney's fiscal sustainability. We are asking you to do the same thing, contact PASSHE Board of Governors Chairlady Cynthia Shapira (717) 720-4028 Fax (717) 720-4011 or mail her at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Dixon University Center 2986 N. Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17110-120. Finally reach out to Cheyney University Interim President Aaron Walton (610) 399-2275 or write to him at 1837 University Circle Cheyney PA, 19319 and ask them nor to carry out the Task Force's agenda to cut degree programs, sell Cheyney's land or eliminate NCAA sports programs.
            If enough of you sacrifice just a few minutes of your time to do this, we can save Cheyney University the oldest institution of higher learning for African-Americans in this nation. Cheyney started out as the African Institute. The name was subsequently changed to the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney, later became the Cheyney Training School for Teachers, Cheyney State Teacher's College, Cheyney State College and finally Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. This institution has a major legacy of education, social activism, training and pedagogy primarily for African-Americans but unlike most colleges in Pennsylvania, Cheyney has never refused entrance to anyone based upon skin pigmentation, national origin, ethnic background and history or religious orientation.
            You ask, why should I help save Cheyney? Because higher education is in crisis in twenty first century America, especially Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania ranks forty-ninth in college affordability. Only one state in the nation costs more for its in state students to attend public colleges that is New Hampshire.  Pennsylvania spends more on prisons, incarceration and corrections than it does for higher education.
            These public policies do not bode well for working class families especially people of color in Pennsylvania! This means if you live in Pennsylvania and you want to attend a Pennsylvania public college or university it will cost you more than anywhere else in America except New Hampshire. As Cheyney goes so goes PASSHE. The fact of the matter is PASSHE is in trouble but Pennsylvania's elected officials try to suppress this fact.
            Cheyney is an HBCU the first institution of higher learning for Africans in America and many HBCUs is facing existential challenges. Frankly unless we intervene  many HBCUs will not survive.  If you care about quality, affordable higher education then you will join us in the fight to save historic Cheyney University.



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