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Dec. 13, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU Council of Trustees learns about adapted program

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – The Slippery Rock University Council of Trustees today learned more about the work professors and students are doing to improve the quality of life for hundreds of Pennsylvania adults and adolescents with disabilities.

Robert Arnhold, SRU professor of physical and health education, presented a report to the trustees on SRU’s nationally recognized Adapted Physical Activity Program, which includes undergraduate and graduate programs.

Arnhold said 300 students volunteer in adapted physical activity programs every week and log 3,000 hours in service each semester helping others. Four students spoke about their life-changing experience in the program, which teaches students how to organize and manage programs for people with disabilities.

Arnhold said 60 adolescents with disabilities participate in programs weekly. His presentation was part of the trustees’ quarterly meeting.

As part of the action items, council approved a formal “Order of Succession Policy,” as required by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board of governors, should the sitting president become unable to fulfill presidential duties The SRU policy lists the order of succession as provost and vice president for academic affairs, followed by the vice president for finance and administration, the vice president for student affairs and the vice president for University advancement.

Trustees, also in accordance with PASSHE board of governor policy, certified that both the Slippery Rock University Foundation Inc. and the Slippery Rock University Alumni Association are affiliates of SRU, make financial contributions to the University on a regular basis and exist solely for the benefit of the University. Affiliates are required to submit an annual external audit to the University and the Office of the Chancellor.

Thomas Breth, a trustee from Butler, was elected the council’s secretary.

Cheryl Norton, SRU president, updated the trustees concerning efforts to eliminate an estimated $5.2 million deficit for the current fiscal year, adding, “The ink was barely dry on the revisions we made to balance the current budget, when we began to address fiscal year 2015 issues.”

Both the finance and audit committee and the academic affairs committee had earlier been updated on the 2014-15 budget and steps the University was taking to close the budget gap. Norton said much of the budget details remain uncertain, including the upcoming fall enrollment, state funding, personnel costs, operational costs, and the decision on next year’s tuition increase.

“We are currently addressing what we anticipate could be nearly a $10 million deficit through strategic reductions in the workforce, cuts in operating budgets and by increasing revenue opportunities,” she said.

“Each division is being asked to achieve a 9 percent reduction in their cost structure. This is a painful task, but one that is necessary to protect the financial integrity of the University and allow SRU to continue to provide the exceptional learning opportunities for which it is known,” she said.

“Because of deadlines in the APSCUF, faculty union, collective bargaining agreement, tenured faculty members were notified of workforce actions Oct. 30. Seven faculty members were affected. Six were moved from low enrolled programs to higher-need program areas in which they were fully credentialed and qualified to teach. One faculty member, at her request, was formally retrenched,” she said.

“Tenure-track faculty and APSCUF coaches will be informed of any workforce reductions by Dec. 15. All other bargaining units – AFSCME, SCUPA, OPEIU, SPFPA – and managers will be notified by March 31,” she said.

“To the degree possible, we are using natural attrition and retirements as a means of capturing the needed FTEs. However, it will be impossible to meet our goals without some furloughs and/or changes in work assignments from 12- to 10-month contracts,” Norton said.

The president said, “Our Winter Session, now in its third year, is far-exceeding credit-hour expectations. Our new MBA program will launch next week with a fully subscribed cohort. The program will be taught online and at the Regional Learning Alliance and will provide a visible presence for the University in the center of one of the fastest-growing business regions in the state.”

She pointed to a number of positive activities at the University. “The SRU online "World Literature" English course has received the University's first Quality Matters Certification from Quality Matters, an international organization that works to improve and certify online courses,” Norton said.

first-year and senior-year students participating in the bi-annual National Survey of Student Engagement indicated higher levels of engagement than students at other U.S. masters-level institutions in a number of categories,” she said.

Norton said she was pleased that “Nearly 300 racers - and walkers - took to the streets in September when SRU hosted the second annual President's Scholarship Fun 5k Run/2k Walk. The event raised nearly $4,500 for undergraduate scholarships. My thanks to Trustee Robert Marcus who greeted folks as they crossed the finish line and handed out water.”

Norton also praised athletic teams, saying, “We had an incredible fall sports season. Football won the PSAC-West championship before losing a heartbreaker to Bloomsburg in the championship game. Their winning season was rewarded with a spot in the NCAA Atlantic Regional where The ROCK bowed out of the tournament after a loss to Winston-Salem. George Mihalik, Slippery Rock University’s head football coach, was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-Western Division "Coach of the Year" and he was awarded the American Football Coaches’ Association Regional Coach of the Year honors.”

“The men’s soccer team won the PSAC championship and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Tournament. Their season ended with an upset loss in their first match. The women’s soccer team was upset in the PSAC championship game, but was rewarded for their season with a second seed in the NCAA Division II tournament. The women made it to the NCAA elite eight before bowing out of the tournament. Our student athletes earned numerous individual awards including 8 All-America honors,” she said.

Norton reminded council that SRU would celebrate its 125 anniversary in 2014 kicking off a year’s worth of activities Jan. 30.

In routine action, council approved the minutes of the Sept. 27 quarterly meeting, the contracts, fixed assets, and service and supply purchase orders reports as presented.

Trustees were told of 16 faculty and staff hirings, and 14 retirements, including nine faculty.

Retiring in January or following the end of spring semester, are: William Lundgren, 43-year professor of mathematics; Nanette Kaplan Solomon, 37-year professor of music; Cornelius Cosgrove, 27-year professor of English; James Hathaway, 26-year professor of geography, geology and the environment; Stacey Steele, 26-year assistant professor of music; Wendy Stuhldreher, 21-year professor of public health and social work; Jane Smith, 15-year assistant professor of library; Beverly Gocal, 11-year professor of computer science; and Anna Lusher, seven-year professor of computer science.

Paula Olivero, assistant vice president for student development, and a 25-year employee, will retire Jan. 31.

Other staff retiring include: Linda Forrest, 36-year clerk typist in the special education department; Roy Burns, 20-year refrigeration mechanic and facilities and planning; Doran Keeley, 21-year building maintenance supervisor in facilities and planning; and Melvin Nagy, 19-year equipment operators in facilities and planning.

Council committees will next meet March 27-28, with the quarterly meeting March 28.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.