Gov. Corbett’s special adviser on higher education steps down

Photo: Ron Tomalis

Governor Tom Corbett’s special adviser for higher education has handed his resignation, Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq announced Tuesday.

Tomalis took the job 14 months ago after being selected by Gov. Corbett to the newly created special adviser role. Tomalis had previously been state education secretary and was permitted to keep his $139,542 salary when he moved to the adviser role.

Tomalis’ resignation is effective Aug. 26, 2014, Dumaresq said in a news release.

“Ron has truly been an asset to me and the department since I assumed the role of education secretary,” Dumaresq said.  “He has been instrumental in overseeing the creation and re-establishment of important educational programs that benefit the students of the commonwealth.  I wish him all the best.”

In addition to serving as an adviser to the secretary for Pre-K to higher education, Tomalis worked on several education initiatives, including the Ready to Succeed Scholarship program, which was signed into law with the 2014-15 state budget; re-establishing three Governor’s Schools: the Governor’s School for the Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, the Governor’s School for Agriculture at Penn State University and the Governor’s School for Engineering and Technology at Lehigh University; and the upcoming Pennsylvania STEM Competition, which will bring together talented students from across the state to showcase their skills and expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Ron has been committed to Pennsylvania’s education system since the early days of my administration,” said Governor Tom Corbett.  “He has worked closely with Secretary Dumaresq and the Department of Education to shape programs and policies that are in the best interest of students.  I thank him for his work and commitment to education.”

The full text of Tomalis’ resignation letter is below:

Dear Madam Secretary:

 It has been a great pleasure and honor to serve and assist you, fellow members of your leadership team at the Department, and the Administration in implementing many of the Governor’s accomplishments in education.  I know of your pride in the significant progress in many of these initiatives and I am extremely grateful to have assisted you in these efforts.

However, as you also know, I have been engaged in conversations with other organizations regarding new opportunities, and given recent events, I believe it is in the best interest of the Administration that I resign my position with the Commonwealth, effective August 26, 2014, to pursue those endeavors.

In addition to serving as an adviser to you on many critical issues, notably and certainly not all inclusive, I have also appreciated having the ability to oversee or assist in the:

  • Re-establishment, after having been eliminated in earlier years, of the Governor’s Schools program, most notably the two recent additions of the School for Engineering and Technology at Lehigh University and the School for Agriculture at Penn State University;
  • Creation and development of the Pennsylvania high school STEM competition, which will bring together students from all across the Commonwealth to showcase the important opportunities in STEM-related fields;
  • Evaluation of the Department’s role in the approval and rigorous oversight of Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools;
  • Development of the Governor’s Ready to Succeed Scholarship program – enacted with this year’s budget —to provide financial assistance to middle-income higher education students in Pennsylvania; and
  • Evaluation and potential application of many of the recommendations of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education, albeit as you know somewhat constricted due to the ongoing difficulties associated with the Commonwealth budget.

Again, it has truly been an honor to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and the Corbett Administration.

Sincerely,

Ron Tomalis