Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Courageous conversation and courageous action

Today begins my journey as chancellor. I’m thrilled to be here, and I’m laser-focused on helping to ensure that our 14 universities are places that every student can achieve success—an affordable degree that leads to a sustaining career and an opportunity to contribute to their community. And I do mean every student, regardless of where they come from or how improbable their success might have once seemed.

That is my passion, and that is our mission. It’s that mission that brought me here to Pennsylvania to help move the System Redesign forward so that future generations have even more opportunities to thrive and contribute to our economy and to the health and well-being of our commonwealth.

First things first, I want to find out more about ‘us’—about who we are and what we can become. I’ll be visiting all 14 universities this fall to hear from everyone—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and others—to begin a dialogue. I want to hear your stories, listen to your ideas, and understand the challenges and obstacles that we face—that you face. I want to know what makes us good, to know about the issues that keep us from becoming better, and to know how we can address those issues.

Through that conversation, let’s work together to foster a culture in which we are unafraid to engage in courageous conversations—conversations that don’t eschew the difficult questions or the difficult answers. Conversations that draw upon something remarkable about our culture, which I have observed and been inspired by even before my arrival—our desire to respect one another with openness, honesty, a willingness to offer one another trust, and unfailing civility.

As we get to know each other, you may see me as an unabashed optimist. I am. I can’t help myself. I see great opportunities for our universities, for our System, and—especially—for our students. I do not believe we face any obstacle that cannot be overcome with our collective talents and creativity. You’ll also hear me speak about transparency. This is something that truly drives me as a person and as a leader. You’ll know exactly where I’m coming from on every issue; and I want the same from you. This blog will serve as one of the many ways for us to exchange ideas, and I’m hoping you’ll use it to provide feedback.

So, let’s start today. I encourage you to share your thoughts on any issue; no subject is out of bounds. If you need a prompt, then know that top-of-mind topics for me right now are: What do you need most from me as your Chancellor? What topics should I cover when I come to your campus? Is there a specific question we should address? Is there a specific opportunity or challenge we should tackle?

Help me kickstart this grand conversation by posting a comment below or emailing me at chancellor@passhe.edu.



  1. Welcome, Dan!

    Your energy and optimism are needed.

    In my view, we need you to be an advocate and educator for the State System with the PA legislature and the public. There are a lot of misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge about PASSHE.

    Looking forward to working together for the future of our students,

    Beth Mabry (IUP)

  2. Positive PR!!! Let's lift up the entire system by praising the successes of our faculty, our students, and our programs. We have a lot to be proud of in this System, and the media needs to hear about it. I'm very proud of my PASSHE degrees and my work at Kutztown Univ. It saddens me when I hear people talk about PASSHE as the safe choice or the last resort. We have SO much to offer students at a quality that can match or exceed other universities. Yet that isn't the message they hear from some of the politicians or community members. Information about our quality and our dynamic programs needs to get out to the media, into the K-12 schools, and into the communities so that PA citizens flock to the System as the right choice for their future.

  3. Welcome, Dan! I am thrilled that you will be visiting each of our incredible campuses over the next month or so. You will be impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm of our faculty and staff as well as our students. I'm looking forward to meeting you!

  4. Welcome Chancellor Greenstein!

    I was one of those students for whom success seemed improbable. My amazing Shippensburg professors provided me with the foundation that launched both my social work and academic careers. As a tenured professor now at West Chester, I share your optimism, because I know the impossible is possible for our students!

    I ask that when you travel the state, you also take the time to visit our Philadelphia campus to see the amazing work being done in the nation's sixth largest urban center.

    Looking forward to seeing what's next for our state system and commonwealth.

    Tina Chiarelli-Helminiak

  5. The Slippery Rock University Community looks forward to working with you and supporting you in your goals for the system! We are excited about your visit to our campus.

  6. As a twenty year member of the faculty at California University of PA, I am a staunch believer in public education and the vital role it plays in our nation as well as in the lives of our students and their families. I think that higher education is at a nexus of competing forces and we must urgently work together to determine a pathway that honors the role of higher education but takes into account new ways of ensuring quality, affordability, and access. So, welcome! Many of us are ready to roll up our sleeves and use innovation, experience,expertise, and good will to shape the future of public higher education in PA.

  7. Friends,

    I genuinely appreciate the feedback here and in the many emails I’ve been receiving from around the System. (Keep them coming!) Your personal stories and your observations confirm what I had hoped and expected: that collectively we possess incredible talent, enormous creativity, and above all a passion for what we do for our students, our communities, and our state.

    And I am inspired by the courage so many of you have demonstrated in identifying our challenges and the boldness of the approaches to them that you have proposed.

    Together we will establish a new benchmark for excellence in higher education and build the 21st century university system that this commonwealth and our nation requires. Of that I am increasingly convinced.

    So much more to come.

    With kind regards and unwavering commitment,


  8. I feel inspired and energized reading your messages. In addition to the wide array of degrees each of our 14 universities offer, we also have an additional educational and research facility called the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, at Wallops Island, VA that provides opportunities to our students and faculty to gain invaluable hands on and feet wet experience in marine research. Hope you will visit all of our 14 universities and the CBFS soon to see for yourself what a resourceful System we have! We are eagerly waiting to meet you on our magnificent campus at Lock Haven.

  9. Welcome to the State System! It is great to read your writing and feel your optimism. I think you are the real deal and just what we need to lead us into the future. Looking forward to meeting you when you come to Edinboro University.

  10. I echo Dr. Khalequzzaman's comment above! We are a system of 14 mostly independent universities, but perhaps my favorite part of teaching, researching, and serving here is that we also work together across campuses to collaborate and share resources and expertise to provide even more opportunities for our students, faculty, and the communities we serve.

    The field station (also known as the Marine Science Consortium) turned 50 years old this year. And over this time, well over 100,000 students (mostly from PA's middle/high schools and colleges/universities) have had amazing opportunities to engage and learn hands-on! Our alumni (of both PASSHE universities and the field station, are embedded in nearly every facet of PA's economy and workforce! Some of our alumni are literally distributed across the country and around the world.

    We look forward to your leadership, and courageous conversations with you and others so that we can further innovate and sustain this unique and special resource so that ALL of our students and faculty, regardless of their home university, can take advantage of the infinite opportunities of this collaboration, just as it was nearly 50 years ago.

  11. Dr. Greenstein.

    Welcome to Pennsylvania and our State System. We look forward to you visit here at East Stroudsburg University. Bring your bike … fall is a wonderful time to see the Poconos!

  12. Chancellor Greenstein,
    Welcome to Pennsylvania. There is quite a bit of excitement surrounding your start—I share in that excitement. Reading your background and blog, I was happy to see you were an avid cyclist (those folk seem to always be good folk). You might want to consider a trip on the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Every leg of it has beauty.

    In any case, our mission in the state system is a special one. Often, we take our students on a longer journey (or cover more ground) than surrounding private institutions, but by the end of their tenure here, they can compete with anyone. I believe this and embrace it. One of our biggest hurdles, has been decreasing state funds towards each state school. If you trace the percentage of each school’s budget that is shouldered by the state you will see the trend which ultimately leads to, as one of our past presidents used to say, is “privatization without a plan.” I would think we either need to start acting like private institutions or change the state budget trend of decreasing funds. Challenges to be met with courage—no doubt.

    I’m sure I state the obvious, but I wish you well. Please know you have many partners, collaborators and cheer leaders out here wishing you success and strength.

    Yugo (CalU)

  13. Chancellor Greenstein,

    Welcome to Pennsylvania and our system. Your enthusiasm and transparency are appreciated. As Chancellor, my request is that you advocate the vision and mission of state supported higher education. As mentioned by Yugo Ikach in his post, we do more for our students, with less resources, than other institutions of higher-education. Please allow us to continue being just and caring communities for our students.


  14. Chancellor Greenstein,

    Welcome from another eternal optimist.

    I love what you have to say so far and am excited to see a shared vision for PASSHE turn into positive actions.

    All best,

    Chauna Craig
    Department of English

  15. Chancellor Greenstein,
    Welcome. You mentioned wanting to know things to do in PA. Come up to the Poconos! Hiking trails along Rte 209 on both the PA and Jersey sides of the Delaware River. If you like jazz, the Deer Head Inn is the longest continually running jazz club in the States. Some wonderful artists and musicians in our area. Look forward to your visit to ESU. Jan Selving, ESU English Dept.

  16. Chancellor Greenstein,
    Welcome! I echo the remarks above. Top of mind for me were the comments by Karen Wanamaker about Positive PR!!! I see tv ads for the Maryland State System. Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education should be better known. We all deliver excellent in person and online programs that await eager learners. Help spread the word at home and nationwide. Joseph Croskey, Clarion University Advising

  17. Chancellor Greenstein,
    I wish you the best as you start your new role in Pennsylvania. I look forward to your thoughts on how we can continue the mission of the system, providing access to quality higher education, and perhaps become even more of a system rather than 14 rivals. All of our schools have value and are important to the regions we serve. Again, welcome and all my hopes for the coming years.
    Rick Sabousky

  18. Dear Chancellor Greenstein,
    Welcome to Pennsylvania! I am also a transplant to the region and am still exploring all this wonderful state has to offer. As an earth scientist, specifically a Marine Geologist, I am very optimistic that you will recognize the strength of our STEM programs across PASSHE, and especially the unique shared resource we have in the Chincoteague Bay Field Station. For 50 years, the CBFS (formally the Marine Science Consortium) has served as a marine and environmental field station where PA’s college students were prepared to enter careers as scientists, engineers, and technicians, and also where faculty and students alike could directly contribute to cutting-edge research.

    It is my earnest hope that you will lend your leadership skills to help us find collaborative and permanent solutions that ensure this incredible resource remains sound and vital for our students and for our Commonwealth.

    All my best,
    Adrienne Oakley

  19. Hello Chancellor Greenstein,

    I would like to warmly welcome you to the state system and recognize that since you’re new to the system you may not be aware of the turmoil going on at Edinboro University.

    First, I would like to give you a little background information about myself. My name is Alyssa Briglio, I’m 20 years old, and I’m attending Edinboro University to complete my bachelors degree in biology. I am slightly different than traditional college students, however since I’m wheelchair bound due to a progressive form of muscular dystrophy. I’ve required extensive personal care my whole life and will continue to require it as my disease progresses. Yet, the one thing unaffected by my disease is my brain and I hope to put it to the test by becoming a pediatric neurologist.

    Edinboro University, for at least the past 30 years, has been known around the country for their 24/7 personal care staff and other disability related services. This service is vital to my success as a student, and if nothing else, to my existence. Yet beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, this service will be terminated. This decision was made without the input from the students and senior staff members directly involved in the program.

    Edinboro University should realize that taking this program away is equivalent to taking the students’ independence away. They should realize that there is no correlation between the functionality of our legs and the functionality of our brains. They should realize that although we may need to be lifted out of bed, or need help picking something up off the floor, or need medication placed on our tongues because we simply can’t reach our mouth, we deserve a fair chance at getting an education in a place where we feel safe.

    Please help the students and staff who are apart of this program shine a light on all of the benefits this program has to offer. Please help us keep the ability to attend college without worry of being stranded in bed.

    Thank you very much for your help and understanding,

    Alyssa Briglio