Dan Gilman joins Pa. higher education assistance board

Courtesy of Duquesne University | Gov. Josh Shapiro appoints Dan Gilman to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency board.

Emma Polen | Editor-in-Chief

Dan Gilman, chief of staff and senior advisor to the president at Duquesne University, has taken on an additional role as a board member for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).

While Gilman has nearly 20 years of background in city government, serving as the chief of staff to former Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and on Pittsburgh City Council representing the 8th District, his appointment to the PHEAA board will be his first role of direct involvement with affordability in higher education.

Gov. Josh Shapiro appointed Gilman in December to the board, and his new board member is looking forward to working alongside local government.

“[Shapiro] and I have had several meetings to talk about ways that I’d be able to help him implement his vision for Pennsylvania after he was elected governor, given my role at Duquesne, combined with my previous role with the City of Pittsburgh,” Gilman said.

Shapiro’s goals for higher education include working with institutions to “rethink” the state’s system of higher education to improve access.

“It’s time for a blueprint for higher education focused on competitiveness and workforce development, and grounded in access and affordability,” Shapiro said in his budget address last March. “That’s how we keep the doors of opportunity open for generations to come.”

PHEAA is closely linked to the Pennsylvania Department of Education with their goals of accessibility and affordability of higher education. University funding for individuals all over the nation in post-secondary institutions rely on Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, which has been delayed by months this year due to an updated form to determine students’ eligibility for federal aid.

PHEAA offers the first state-based student loan program in Pennsylvania, called PA Forward, which provides a low-cost way to pay for college.

While Gilman’s previous government positions have not necessarily connected him with the world of higher education affordability, he said he has always had to remain knowledgeable of the role higher education played in the Pittsburgh area.

“Pittsburgh is a city whose rebirth has been heavily dependent on the institutions and what the universities have done,” Gilman said. During his time working in the mayor’s office Gilman knew how critical it can be for the economic future of a region and watched state and national trends for higher education.

Gilman has always attended educational institutions in the Pittsburgh region himself. Being a Carnegie Mellon and Shady Side Academy graduate, he appreciates the “lived experience” education provides.

“I had great opportunities that I was provided by my family and want to make sure that everyone gets those same opportunities,” Gilman said.

With elementary-age students of his own, Gilman finds the future affordability of higher education a personal commitment.

“We’re all aware of the challenges of college affordability and wanting to be able to provide the best opportunity for our kids,” Gilman said.

Even with activities to attend to at home, Gilman is confident he will find time for both his family and his volunteer position on the PHEAA board.

“I love work and I find passion in my work,” he said. “My family is incredibly supportive and especially my wife in taking more on so I can do these things that she knows provide me great pleasure and public service.”

In Gilman’s position, he will be responsible for networking and working with Pennsylvania state officials, elected officials and representatives from other universities. With these relationships, and his involvement in conversations about college financing and affordability, Gilman said his position with the PHEAA benefits his role at the university by having a representative in the room.

“Gilman’s role on the PHEAA Board will provide Duquesne with even greater insight into cost-effective options for the students and families who will be considering the University to achieve their educational goals,” the university said in a press release.

“I’m not in this position for directly the benefit of Duquesne,” Gilman said. “I believe my service can only add to the great work already happening as we look to make college more affordable for Pennsylvanians broadly, which will of course impact Duquesne in a positive way.”