5 of 14 state-owned Pa. universities warned of possible cuts

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Watch Walter Perez report from Action News at 5 p.m. on April, 4, 2017. (WPVI)

Five of Pennsylvania's state-owned universities have been put on notice that layoffs and program cuts COULD be ahead.

Notifications have gone out at California, Clarion, Cheyney, Edinboro, and Mansfield Universities.

All five schools have been struggling with dropping enrollment in recent years.

Founded in 1837, Cheyney is the oldest historically black university in the country. But students we spoke with here say their pride in the school's past is eclipsed by their concerns over the Cheyney's future.

"I want to stay, I want to graduate from here. So it's kind of like, I want them to get everything together," said sophomore Kadijah White.

The concern is over the recent announcement that lay-offs and program cuts are possible beginning in September of 2018 at five of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities.

The impending cuts are linked, in large part, to an overall dip in student enrollment within Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

At Cheyney University, for example, enrollment dropped 53-percent since 2010.

On a brighter note, the possible changes could also include new programs in emerging fields, along with reductions in established programs that are waning in popularity.

But many of the Cheyney students we spoke with say cuts and lay-offs would only make it tougher to attract new students to a school located in a rural part of the Delaware Valley.

"I would say, we're in the middle of nowhere. It's really hard to get anywhere, so for those who go here we do need things to do," said senior Jada Phillips.

"We have a lot of other state schooled that have gotten different dormitories in my time of being a student, they've gotten new athletic buildings, and we're stuck with the same old stuff and it's not fair," said senior Roi Walker.

To be clear, at this point we're talking about possible cuts and layoffs. The notice was put out so that discussions can begin on how to minimize, or even avoid, those reductions.

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