Northern exposure: A Florida chancellor for Pa. universities

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The Pirates and Phillies hold spring training in Florida, but who knew that state was the unofficial training ground for chancellors of Pennsylvania's public university system?

With the hiring Wednesday of Frank T. Brogan, Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education will have its third consecutive chief executive from Florida. Mr. Brogan is resigning as chancellor of the State University System of Florida to begin the Pennsylvania job on Oct. 1.

He will succeed John Cavanaugh, who came to SSHE in 2008 from the University of West Florida. Mr. Cavanaugh replaced Judy Hample, who held the same post as Mr. Brogan.

Previous location aside, Mr. Brogan, 59, brings a distinguished resume to the challenges facing Pennsylvania's 14 public universities that include Slippery Rock, Indiana, California and Edinboro. The Cincinnati native was an elementary school teacher and middle school principal in Florida's Martin County before becoming the county schools superintendent. Later, he was appointed president of Florida Atlantic University and then chancellor of the state system, which has 12 universities and 335,000 students -- nearly three times that of Pennsylvania's SSHE.

The most unusual aspect of Mr. Brogan's career may be his four years as Jeb Bush's lieutenant governor. No doubt he honed political skills then that will come in handy during budget time in Harrisburg.

Perhaps the biggest change Mr. Brogan will face in Pennsylvania is demographic. He leaves a state and a university system that is growing for a place where the population is static and a student enrollment that has dropped 4 percent since 2010.

It won't take long for Mr. Brogan to realize he's not in Florida anymore. In a Pennsylvania where college-bound students have a multitude of choices and where public dollars for education are limited, the new chancellor will have his work cut out for him.

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