Supporters of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania held a rally at the State Capitol in Harrisburg urging legislators to provide increased financial support to the historically Black university. Cheyney has seen enrollments decline to about 700 students, a drop of 50 percent since 2009.
Last December, the auditor general of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued a report that concluded that “the future of historic Cheyney University is bleak and projected to worsen, unless drastic action is taken at the state level to address escalating debt, falling revenues, and declining enrollments. We cannot sit idly by as this historic and prestigious university fights for survival.”
A year ago, a coalition of alumni, students, faculty, and community leaders called Heeding Cheyney’s Call filed a federal lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to “end decades-long and intolerably worsening racial discrimination against historic Cheyney University, an all-time great institution that now has an all-time low student enrollment and an all-time high budget deficit.”
Heeding Cheyney’s Call wants the state to “enhance existing academic programs at university, acquire, new, high-demand academic programs, to provide for adequate resources, including (but not limited to) increased funding, improved facilities, state-of-the-art equipment, effective recruiting, and experienced marketing.”
Officials of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education note that Cheyney now receives the most money per student of all 14 universities in the state system. But they told the delegation in Harrisburg that they were committed to helping Cheyney recover.