Whitney reflects on chancellor job

Amanda Betts – News Editor

CLARION, Pa.- With nearly three months of work as the interim chancellor of the State System under her belt, Dr. Karen Whitney is confident in her role and its responsibilities.

After making the decision to leave Clarion University after more than five years of service as the president, Whitney remains determined to prove time and time again that “Clarion is special” and hopes to utilize her passion for Clarion to aid her in helping all of the 14 schools in the Pennsylvania State System.

It was revealed by current interim President of Clarion University Peter Fackler that Whitney had direct involvement in his being considered for the job. According to Whitney, she felt that Fackler’s values and skills as an educator aligned with the needs of Clarion University.

“He has what Clarion needs for this year,” Whitney explained.

Since Fackler had been a part of the staff at Clarion University previously, Whitney felt that this gave him a leg up on the competition for interim president. His familiarity with Clarion and its inner-workings and values coupled with his knowledge of finance instilled a confidence in Whitney that he was a good fit for the job.

After only about 60 days down in her role as interim chancellor, Whitney admits that she is still getting used to her life away from Clarion University.

“I miss it,” she said with a shrug and a sad smile, “but I know that in this job I can help not only Clarion but the rest of the schools in the state system. That’s really important to me.”

While Whitney still lives in Clarion part time, she misses the activities that came with being president of the university. When asked what she missed about Clarion University, Whitney replied confidently, “Everything.”

She talked lovingly about the students, events and faculty, and how she hopes to take what she learned at Clarion and help the entire system.

Contributed Photo / The Clarion Call
PASSHE Chancellor Karen Whitney (middle) stands with Jen (left) and Gina (right) of Starbucks.

In Whitney’s opinion, the state system has become “too bureaucratic” in recent years. With emphasis being put on policies and rules, Whitney questioned whether this method is benefitting or holding back the 14 universities.

One of her main goals as chancellor, according to Whitney, is to ask one simple question about every step that is taken in the state system: “Does this advance student success?”

While Whitney is extremely busy with her work as chancellor, she hopes that her continued passion for Clarion University remains apparent to students and faculty.

She intends to work closely with President Fackler and be directly involved with the search for someone to fill the permanent position. “I want the students to be involved,” she said. “This is your university. We want to know what you want.”

In order to find a suitable person to fill the position, there will be a competitive national search. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has already begun advertising nationally and is confident that they will find a fit for Clarion University. “Everyone I work with is extremely interested in student success.”

A national search is also underway for the next chancellor of the state system. Interim President Fackler invited students to take a survey regarding what they would want in a chancellor, which can be found here.

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