State System chancellor resigns to take job in D.C.

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John Cavanaugh, chancellor of the State System of Higher Education, is resigning his position to head a group that supports colleges and universities in the Washington, D.C., area, officials announced Thursday.

His departure from the $327,500-a-year position, which he has held since July 2008, is effective at the end of February.

As chancellor, Mr. Cavanaugh, 58, has overseen Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities, among them California, Clarion, Edinboro, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities in Western Pennsylvania. The system has nearly 115,000 students and more than 5,000 faculty.

His new job puts him at the helm of the D.C.-based Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, a group that advocates for 14 institutions, including Georgetown University, University of Maryland, American University, Catholic University of America and George Mason University. He succeeds John Childers, who is retiring as the consortium's president and CEO.

The transition comes as State System leadership navigates financial stresses, including sharp state funding reductions imposed in recent years. The system also is attempting to settle the longest faculty contract dispute in its three-decade history.

The State System's board of governors accepted Mr. Cavanaugh's resignation, and its board chairman Guido Pichini later issued a statement praising the chancellor.

Executive vice chancellor Peter Garland will serve as acting chancellor upon Mr. Cavanaugh's departure in accordance with the system's succession plan. Mr. Garland's current duties include those as State System chief operating officer.

Members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties have been without a contract since June 30, 2011. Members authorized union negotiators to call a strike on short notice, but the union has pledged that any potential job action would not occur before the spring semester.

Asked what impact the transition would have on the negotiations, State System spokesman Kenn Marshall said, "We don't believe it should have any."

He said the board sets parameters for the talks. The next bargaining session is set for Jan. 4.

Mr. Cavanaugh's contract with the State System runs though June 2015. He provided the system with appropriate notice under his contract, which stipulates that he be paid through his departure date but does not include any additional compensation, Mr. Marshall said.

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Bill Schackner: or 412-263-1977.


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