Comprising the fourteen publicly owned state universities, the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) was created by Act 188 of 1982. Its twenty-member board of governors includes the governor and the secretary of education (both ex officio), fourteen others appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate (one of whom must be a student), two members of the senate, and two members of the house of representatives. The chancellor, appointed by the board, is the chief executive officer. The board establishes broad fiscal, personnel, and educational policies, as well as procedures. The mission of SSHE is "the provision of instruction for undergraduate and graduate students to extend beyond the master’s degree in the liberal arts and sciences, and in the applied fields, including the teaching profession."

The beginning of the State System of Higher Education can be traced to the Act of May 21, 1857 which set up a procedure for establishing "normal schools" to provide professional training for common school teachers. The state was originally divided into twelve normal school districts. A thirteenth normal school district was recognized with the creation of Clarion State Normal School in February 1887, but the last of the originally planned twelve districted institutions was Slippery Rock, which was not recognized until February 1889. Cheyney State Normal School was the successor to "The Institute for Colored Youth" located in Bristol Township, Philadelphia County, which had been chartered by the state in 1842. In 1904 this institution was moved to Cheyney in Delaware County and began functioning as an industrial normal school. By a decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in July 1914, the name was changed to Cheyney Training School for Teachers.

The School Code of 1911 established a method for the state to buy schools through appropriations to be made in succeeding sessions of the legislature. Once the state acquired ownership of a school, the trustees were appointed by the State Board of Education. On July 30, 1913 the state acquired sole ownership of its first normal school, West Chester. On June 24, 1920, Cheyney was acquired, and by 1922 the state had completed its acquisitions with Mansfield. Until 1923, the normal schools were essentially secondary schools with students being admitted without receiving a diploma from a four-year high school. In 1925 the State Council on Education authorized normal schools to confer bachelor of science degrees for particular curricula as soon as the school proved these groups of courses met standards set by the American Association of Teachers’ College. As a result, the fourteen schools acquired their first bachelor of science in education certifications in 1926 and all subsequently changed their names to "State Teachers’ Colleges." On May 23, 1932, the last of the fourteen, Cheyney, made this change. By an act of January 8, 1960, all state teachers’ colleges were reclassified as state colleges. University status was achieved in 1982.

Cheyney University Yearbooks, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1949-53, 1955, 1957-1960, 1962-1972, 1974-1979, 1983-1988. (3 microfilm rolls) Arranged chronologically by year. As a result of the Historical Records Microfilming Project, master negative copies of records from select state schools were given to the Pennsylvania State Archives. Among those records are microfilm copies of the yearbooks of Cheyney University. These yearbooks provide some valuable information on African American students, the bulk of whom were from Pennsylvania. Cheyney had its beginning in 1837 with the establishment of the Institute for Colored Youth, made possible by a bequest from the estate of Richard Humphreys. Information in the yearbooks includes the graduate’s full name, hometown, and occasionally the street address; the history of the college; biographical information on the president; identification of the administrative staff and faculty; and a pictorial record of activities and campus life. Also included are advertisements from the surrounding area, fraternity and sorority members, and alumni chapters throughout the state and country.

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