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 SRU Budget Challenge: Serving More Students with Less Revenue than Four Years Ago, Trustees Told 



June 10, 2005

Contact: Ross Feltz – 724-738-2919; e-mail:; cell: 724-679-1376



     CRANBERRY, Pa. --  Slippery Rock University trustees heard university president Robert M. Smith explain the challenge of overcoming a more than $4 million shortfall for 2005-06 from expected lower state appropriations and the governor’s desire for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors to not raise tuition.

      The council of trustees held its quarterly meeting today at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Woods Corporate Office Park, a concept conceived by SRU.

      In discussing the budget, Smith explained “this year’s SRU allocation from the legislative appropriation is 95 percent of what was received five years ago. Yet we have grown by 12 percent in those years to serve nearly 1,100 more students. We quietly balanced last year’s budget through reductions in management positions, non-contractual assignments for faculty and a new phone system that significantly reduced our phone maintenance operating costs.”

      “This coming fiscal year presents more serious challenges,” he said. “The projected budget shortfall is more than $4 million.”

      Smith explained salaries and benefits comprise $4 of every $5 of the university’s budget and contractual obligations for increases next year amount to 86 percent of the $4 million shortfall.  “The increases for the following year are even more severe,” he said. “Based on no tuition increase, the shortfall in 2006-07 could be $8.9 million.”

      “We have to reduce costs and do so immediately where strategically feasible and then set in motion a series of strategies for reducing costs in 2006-07. One of the major cost categories that must be considered is personnel,” he said. “The largest category and the source of the largest increase in personnel costs is faculty. However, the faculty is the primary source of revenue, so every faculty position eliminated represents less opportunity to teach students. Consequently, any strategy to reduce the faculty has to be fine-tuned so that we do not set off unintended reductions in our budget, triggering further cost-cutting spirals.”

      Smith emphasized, however, that budget decisions at SRU will be made with a focus on two primary goals: “First, we remain committed to our long-range goal of enhancing the value of the Slippery Rock University degree. And, we remain resolved to gaining control over our destiny.

      “As for the first goal, we have worked very hard to enhance the academic reputation of Slippery Rock University and have invested significantly in gaining stature in the national academic community,” he said. “We cannot let our efforts be wasted by not continuing investment in academic quality and the student experience.

      “For the second goal, we have to significantly step up our efforts to acquire more funds through our fund- raising work and increase income from our strategic lines of business,” he said.

New officers elected

     Council elected Dr. Dennis Murray, superintendent of Altoona Area School District and a 1963 SRU graduate who has served as a trustee since 1997, as chair; Suzanne Vessella, a resident of Ellwood City and an operations auditor for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, as vice chair; and Angele Waugaman, a senior from Kittanning, pursuing majors in accounting and marketing, as secretary.  The council has one trustee who is a student, and Waugaman is the first to serve as one of the three council officers at SRU.

      In other action, council approved contracts, fixed asset additions, service and supply purchase orders and reviewed the annual inspection of facilities.


      Trustees were informed of the following retirements:

     Dr. Kenneth Calhoun, associate professor, School of Business, from Pittsburgh, with 18 years service;

     Dr. James Hughes, professor, geography, geology and the environment, from Grove City, with 34 years;

     Dr. Elizabeth Joseph, associate professor, secondary education/foundations of education, from Allison Park, with 17 years;

     Dr. Paulette La Doux, associate professor, counseling and development, from Harmony, with 21 years;

     Francis Manfredi, assistant professor, special education, from New Castle, with 36 years;

     Dr. Dineshnandini Manocha, assistant professor, special education, from Warren, Ohio, with 19 years;

     Dr. Erich Vierthaler, assistant professor, sociology/anthropology/social work, from Butler, with 15 years;

     Linda Beatty, student health services, from Grove City, with 25 years;

     Dr. Duncan Sargent, graduate studies, from Slippery Rock, with 10 years;

     Donald Bickel, finance and administration, from Grove City, with 17 years;

     James North, information systems and technologies, from Slippery Rock with 34 years;

     Janet Croll, retention services, from Slippery Rock, with 16 years;

     Leslie Edwards, student health services, from Slippery Rock, with 16 years;

     Madlyn Englehart, physical eduation, from Grove City, with 31 years;

     Cathy Lake, financial aid, from Slippery Rock, with 31 years;

     Karen McKnight, graduate studies, from Harrisville, with 36 years;

     Jack Thompson, facilities, from Petrolia, with 32 years; and

     James Wallace, facilities, from Butler, with 19 years.

Professor Emeritus

     Trustees also were informed that Dr. Albert Ward, retired professor, geography, geology and the environment, was award professor emeritus status.

     The next meeting of the council is 1:30 p.m. Sept. 9.

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Ross C. Feltz -- PN, PgN, WPN, PR, S





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