SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – A contingent of Slippery Rock University students, faculty, staff and members of the Council of Trustees will join the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s “Advocacy Days” in Harrisburg April 4-5 as a means of helping legislators better understand the benefits the system brings to the commonwealth.
“We need to make the case to legislators that our system deserves their support. We need to focus on issues that distinguish us from others groups,” said Karen Ball, PASSHE vice chancellor for external relations, speaking Tuesday to nearly 150 SRU students, faculty and staff in the Multi-Purpose Room of the University Union.
The Student Government Association is coordinating the advocacy project at SRU.
Ball and Arthur Stevens, PASSHE vice chancellor for strategic initiatives, visited campus to promote the legislative advocacy program and PASSHE’s newly created Web site.
Stevens said the new site is designed to aid potential PASSHE students and their parents when considering where to attend college.
“The site presents information potential students can use to help determine which of the 14 state system universities best meet their needs. The site allows visitors to search for specific majors and academic programs, search by location or enrollment as well as a number of other criteria,” he said.
The PASSHE homepage offers information about affordability, financial aid and why students should chose the system to further their education.
The site has moved its internal operations information, such as staff biographies, budget details and employee data to an “Inside PASSHE” page on the new site.
Two students at Kutztown University designed the new site.
Each of the 14 state system schools, including SRU, is featured on the site with information links to the individual university’s homepage.
The site is located at: http://www.passhe.edu.
In outlining the advocacy program, Ball told the assemblage that teams of volunteers would be created representative of all 14 state system universities to meet with state legislators during the two-day program.
“To be an effective advocate, we will provide volunteers with materials. We urge you to practice your presentation before the visits. Advocates should also do research on the legislators we will be meeting with to know what district the represent and their interests,” she said.
“One of the key messages we want to be able to convey is that one of the important strengths of the system is affordability, which is directly impacted by state funding. Nearly 120,000 students, 90 percent of whom are Pennsylvania residents, are currently enrolled at PASSHE universities. Four of five of them will remain in the commonwealth after graduation,” she said.
She said PASSHE graduates are the future of the commonwealth. “These are the small business leaders and entrepreneurs of the future,” she said.
“We want to speak with a unified voice about the state system. We want to provide key data about the impact of the system on the commonwealth’s economic development and educational efforts, and we want to request support for the system in very difficult financial times,” Ball said.
Sixty-one Pennsylvania House and Senate members either have a state system university in their district or are a PASSHE graduate.
Ball said PASSHE receives about one-third of its total funding from the state budget. “This year we are receiving approximately $444.8 million in a total PASSHE budget of $1.5 billion. The amount of state funding we receive directly impacts the tuition and fees you pay. Legislators turn to their constituents for the information needed to make an educated decision, and we need to be on the priority list.”
Ball said by meeting with the legislators the teams could help them determine their funding priorities when the commonwealth budget comes to a vote in late spring or early summer.
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.