California University, Edinboro University, and Clarion University could merge into one university in the near future.By Nicole Ford

CALIFORNIA, Pa. (KDKA) – After a unanimous vote of “yes” from the State System of Higher Education Board, plans are moving forward to integrate three universities on the western side of the state into one.

Those schools include Edinboro, Clarion and California University of Pennsylvania.

“We have a can do attitude. We serve many first-generation students, our faculty and staff are extremely dedicated to our students. This will ensure top quality education in Western PA for generations to come,” said Dr. Dale Pehrsson, who’s the Clarion University President.

Photo Credit: Clarion University/Facebook

Pehrsson said the goal is to have one university with three campuses, which is a cost saving move by the State System of Higher Education.

“We’ve been cutting and cutting to try to be efficient and we are at the point if we cut anymore we are going to lose our programs,” Pehrsson said.

She told KDKA coming together will allow the school to offer more and reinvest in programs to students at a lower cost.

“Up at Edinboro, they specialize in the arts and have unique disability programs so that probably will not go across all three because it’s already set there, but nursing we offer at all three universities and that is a big need,” Pehrsson said.

For many alumni, the big question surrounds athletics and extracurriculars.

“Currently we have 1,200 to 1,400 students that are student athletes across all three schools. We don’t want to lose those numbers of students so does that mean we have three continuous programs or one program where we advance the sports? That’s a question we are working to figure out what is best for the students,” Pehrsson said.

Over the next few months, university leaders will work together to formulate a plan on what the three campuses will look like moving forward.

(Photo Credit: California University of PA)

In April, those plans will be up for discussion at a 60-day public comment period before it gets final approval.

“We know we are building a new future in Western Pennsylvania and we need the support of the people to do this and do it right,” Pehrsson said.

For the next two years, students can still apply to the individual schools.

The new university plans would go into effect in 2022.