The Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education formed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett gathered for its first meeting this morning with the governor himself in attendance. Corbett announced the panel in February, alongside deep proposed cuts to higher education funding from the state budget.
The high-powered, 31-member commission includes the presidents of several top universities, representatives of private colleges, technical schools, businesses and law firms, and is chaired by former Lehigh County State Senator and current CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Robert Wonderling. He drew a distinction between the education panel and past commissions specifically tasked with solving money problems.
"This is not a funding commission," said Wonderling. "This is a commission that will determine what is the long-term plan for current and future users of the system from which three key objectives are affordability, accessibility, and employability."
In his brief speech to the commission, Corbett said one worthwhile step might be to go "back to the future" and emphasize training in technology and the trades.
The panel will meet once more in April and is planning five public hearings throughout the commonwealth in May and June.
"To create a process over the next several months, where we are a conduit for ideas, reach consensus around those ideas and do so in a way that isn't a report that's on the shelf," said Wonderling.