State Senator Tommy Tomlinson is a member of the West Chester University Council of Trustees, and over the weekend, news emerged that it is that group which is pushing for the right to separate from the State System of Higher Education, and to take other schools with it. Harrisburg lobbying firm The Bravo Group revealed that it has been hired by the West Chester University Foundation at the request of the university’s council of trustees. It’s the first real link between a State System school and the legislation introduced by the Republican Tomlinson and Democratic Senator Andy Dinniman, who used to teach at West Chester.
The Bravo Group’s spokesperson Jeanette Krebs says the effort has the support of other university foundations, but she declined to say which ones. The firm has set up a website, “Stronger Pennsylvania Public Universities”, along with a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Organizations such as The Foundation for IUP are independent of the university with which they are affiliated, and are set up as nonprofit, charitable corporations to support their university. Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, an IUP graduate who has already come out against the bill, said he was surprised and disappointed that West Chester foundation money was being used to help pay for an effort to leave the State System.
State System spokesman Kenn Marshall says they will not weigh in at this time with reaction to West Chester’s actions. Officially,West Chester says it is going to do a feasibility study to determine its best course of action, even though a spokesman says there is already much support for a move.