After passage of the Pennsylvania Normal School Act in 1857 and two failed attempts to establish a teacher training facility in the area, a group of prominent citizens, encouraged by the state Department of Public Instruction, signed a charter to create a normal school at Shippensburg in March of 1870. Private funds for building construction were raised and the first class of 217 men and women was admitted in 1873. Two-year programs of study leading to certification were available in three areas-elementary, scientific and classical-and a laboratory or model school was established to assist in training the undergraduates.
The institution was named the Cumberland Valley Normal School and, despite early financial difficulties, it prospered and reached an enrollment of 500 by the end of the century. During World War I, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased Cumberland Valley and its sister normal schools throughout the state in an effort to regulate and to manage institutions that received public subsidies more efficiently. In 1927, a state charter changed the name of the institution to Shippensburg State Teachers College, and the curriculum was amended to provide four-year programs in elementary and secondary education leading to a bachelor of science in education degree. A business education major was added in the next decade and, in 1939, Shippensburg became the first teachers college in Pennsylvania to receive accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
After World War II, Shippensburg's enrollment grew rapidly and its programs diversified and expanded. By 1960, there were over 1300 students and undergraduate programs were expanded, and a two-year general education requirement for all students was added. Masters degrees in elementary education, secondary English and secondary social studies were authorized in 1959 and, in 1962, a small liberal arts curriculum was begun. Business administration followed as a major in 1967. In recognition and anticipation of the rapid curricular and structural changes at the school, the institution became Shippensburg State College in 1960.
By the mid-1970s, the new state college had achieved much of the shape that it has maintained in the last two decades. Undergraduate enrollment reached approximately 5000 students, with another 1000 in graduate masters programs in both education and the liberal arts. The undergraduate population was balanced among four areas-education, the arts and sciences, business and professional studies-in over 40 majors and numerous minor programs and concentrations. A Division of Undeclared Majors was created to accommodate the increasing number of students who entered the college without a major. The number of faculty increased from 59 in 1960 to almost 300 by the end of the decade and they were grouped within academic departments assigned to newly established schools within the college. After 1972, the faculty was unionized, and their salaries and working conditions were negotiated as part of a state-wide master contract that included professional staff at the other state colleges. The physical plant was also greatly expanded with the addition of classroom and residential structures that more than doubled the usable space on campus.
In 1983, Shippensburg and its sister colleges became universities and part of the State System of Higher Education (State System) by act of the Pennsylvania legislature. The legislation created an Office of the Chancellor to oversee the system and an appointed Board of Governors to establish overall policy. Local Councils of Trustees were retained, but their responsibilities for institutional governance were reduced. At Shippensburg, numerous structural changes followed university status. Some schools became colleges, giving the university three new divisions-the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Education and Human Services. Masters programs remained within the School of Graduate Studies.
Perhaps the most visible change after 1983 was the adoption of a new academic and co-curricular governance structure for the university. With the cooperation of the faculty union and the administration, a system was implemented and remains in place that allows professors, managers and students to participate together in the decision-making process that determines courses, programs and student life matters at the institution. The apex of this system is the University Forum, which makes recommendations to the president of the university. The Forum has several standing committees, each of which includes representation from the three constituencies. These include the Student Affairs Committee, which serves as a liaison with the undergraduate and graduate student organizations, and the Governance Review Committee, which recommends changes to the structure itself.
Two groups, however, are central to the work of the shared governance structure. The University Curriculum Committee (UCC) provides the Forum with most of its activity. This group receives and recommends course and curriculum changes that have originated with individual faculty or departments and have also been reviewed by college councils composed of department chairs. In addition, the UCC has a subcommittee that considers academic policies and standards and, from time to time, creates ad hoc groups that address issues such as periodic review of the university's general education program. The Planning and Budget Council is also a branch of the University Forum. It has several important responsibilities including review of university budget submissions to the State System each fall, the drafting of procedures affecting the range of planning processes on campus and consideration of changes to the mission and strategic directions of the university. By design the university governance structure does not supersede or infringe upon faculty or administrative interests that are part of collective bargaining. General issues of contractual concern are handled at monthly meetings of the Faculty/Management Committee or through frequent contacts between union and management leadership. Similarly, the structure complements the organization of both the undergraduate and graduate student associations.
Parallel to the shared governance structure of the university is its administrative organization. The responsibilities of the president of the university are defined by the same legislation that created the State System, and two groups directly assist the president in the operation of the institution. The first is the Executive Management Team (EMT), which meets bi-weekly and includes the Provost, who is also the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice Presidents of Student Affairs and Administration and Finance, and the Executive Director of the Shippensburg University Foundation. The EMT advises the president on all university policy. The second is the President's Cabinet, a larger group that includes academic deans and directors, selected administrators and the chair of the Forum, who is a faculty member. The latter group discusses issues and serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of policy.
The respective vice presidents direct the divisions of the university. The Student Affairs division of the institution contains eight departments, all of which deal directly with student life on campus and range from supervision in the residence halls to the scheduling of co-curricular programming and student counseling, health, financial aid, and career services. The Administration and Finance division has five departments that supervise all institutional funds, maintain the university's physical plant and provide safety and security for the university community. The Academic Affairs division, headed by the provost, directs the three colleges of the university, the School of Graduate Studies, Special Academic Programs, which includes the undeclared division and developmental assistance programs, and Library and Media Services. The deans of each area meet regularly with the provost and comprise the Dean's Council. Academic Affairs also supervises the Office of Admissions, the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, and Resource Management, which is the special responsibility of the associate provost.