Chatham News

Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement on behalf of higher education

March 22, 2010

Hershey, PA (March 22, 2010) … The Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) is the 2010 recipient of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania’s (AICUP) Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement on Behalf of Higher Education. The award will be presented on Monday, March 22, 2010 in Hershey during the Association’s Annual Meeting of its 87 member college and university presidents. The Benjamin Franklin Medal, named for one of our nation’s and Pennsylvania’s earliest and most recognized leaders, is reserved for individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the ongoing vitality and effectiveness of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities.

The AICUP Board of Directors this year broke with the tradition of presenting the award to an elected official, instead recognizing the critical work of a group of college and university leaders who resolved a potentially explosive proposal from Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to impose a one percent tuition tax on students. With the national press watching and with implications for students attending all post-secondary institutions of higher education, the PCHE presidents were united and worked closely together to find an appropriate resolution to this unacceptable proposal. After weeks of public hearings, student rallies and negotiations, the PCHE presidents, Mayor Ravenstahl and members of City Council managed to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion that did not impose a first-in-the-nation tuition tax on students. Mayor Ravenstahl instead has invited representatives of PCHE to work with him to find a long-term solution to the structural fiscal problems confronting the City of Pittsburgh.

While AICUP is composed of private college and university presidents, the Association’s Board recognized that the tuition tax proposal would harm students attending all sectors of higher education—including community colleges, public universities, theological seminaries, and for-profit trade schools as well as private colleges and universities. The Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) is comprised of the following institutions (all located in Allegheny County): Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, Community College of Allegheny County, Duquesne University, La Roche College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Point Park University, Robert Morris University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

According to AICUP President Don Francis, “The ability of the presidents in the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education to resolve successfully the Pittsburgh tuition tax proposal was as important as any accomplishment in Pennsylvania higher education in the last decade.”

The Association of Independent Colleges & Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP), the only statewide organization that serves exclusively the interests of private higher education within the Commonwealth, exists to complement and support the work of campus leaders. With a membership of 87 private colleges and universities within Pennsylvania, the Association provides a variety of services and programs tailored specifically to the needs and situation of independent higher education. A list of AICUP’s member colleges and universities is included on its website at