Though Penn State insists it is not looking to become a private institution, education experts aren't surprised the school is considering its options in light of state funding cuts that have led other public universities to the same types of discussions.
The talk of privatization resurfaced this week at a Faculty Senate meeting during which trustees chairwoman Karen Peetz mentioned that she was intrigued by a private-public model used by Cornell University. A Penn State spokeswoman later downplayed the remark.
"Penn State is not exploring how to become private," spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in an email. "Penn State is exploring how to remain public in the face of declining public funds."
Many public college systems have had conversations about restructuring over the past decade as state legislatures continue to cut higher education funding, said Michael Tanner, vice president for academic affairs at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.