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 SRU trustees discuss budget challenges 



June 19, 2009

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab



SRU trustees discuss budget challenges


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University President Robert Smith today told the Council of Trustees that the number one issue facing the University was budget planning for 2009-10. "The only thing we know for certain at this point is that we will have a deficit, we just don't know the total scope of the problem," Smith said during his report at the trustees' quarterly meeting. 

            "Our two primary revenue streams, our state appropriation and tuition, have yet to be determined, so we are dealing with a shifting target" Smith said.

            "We have a number of short-term strategies to address what is already a $5 million deficit. These include operating budget cuts of more than $1 million; hiring delays that are expected save an additional $1.2 million; deferred maintenance of $350,000; and $1.7 million in delayed bond payments. Any additional gap will be covered by the use of reserves," Smith said.

            "We're going to tighten our belt in many areas, but what we will not sacrifice is the quality of education we provide our students," Smith said.

            "Our commitment to quality education remains our top priority. Our emphasis will continue to be about providing a rock-solid education to our students," he said. 

            Smith told the trustees that the short-term strategies "work only if we believe that the current economic and political environments are short term. We believe we are facing structural problems in the way our institution is financed, and therefore, these problems are likely to persist for a long time if not addressed at the state level from a structural perspective."

           "We are already looking to how we will balance a similar deficit in the 2010-2011 budget and beyond. Our goal is to emerge from the current economic downturn in a stronger position and not allow ourselves to be weakened by a lack of courage in addressing these important issues," he said.

           In acknowledging financial difficulties faced by others, Smith told the trustees that the University had launched a Rock Opportunity Scholarship program to provide need-based assistance to in-state students facing financial hardship because of the current economy. He said the Slippery Rock University Foundation Inc. and the University have committed funds to provide aid to help approximately 240 students.

           "The need for this program was made clear when 1,900 applications were received." Smith said.

           Smith also reported that the Middle States Commission accreditation review was under way, and said plans for the new University Union were proceeding with an anticipated January groundbreaking.

           Trustees presented Rita Abent, executive director of public relations, with a citation acknowledging her "leadership and guidance to the campus community during the power outage and threat of the H1N1 influenza virus occurring within days of each other" earlier this year. "Your professionalism and diligence in responding to the needs of the campus and exhibiting excellence in service to our students was evident in your actions, and we applaud your efforts." The citation was signed by Robert Taylor, trustee chair.

           Trustees also used the session to salute previous trustees. "We want to thank those who have previously given of their time, talent and finances in service to Slippery Rock University," said Taylor before introducing:

      Ken Blair, from Sarver who served on council 12 years (1995-2007), including service as secretary, vice chair and chair;

      Eric Holmes, from Pittsburgh who served as a student trustee from 1992-93. Holmes later served as president of the Slippery Rock University Alumni Association. He has been nominated for a trustee post at SRU. The nomination is awaiting Pennsylvania Senate approval. 

      Donald Kelly, from Grove City who served from 1991 to 1997; and 

      Angele (Waugaman) Stoebener, from Tarentum who served as a student trustee from 2004 to 2006.

           In formal action, council's full slate of officers, including Taylor, chair; Grace Hawkins, vice chair; and Joshua Young, secretary; were re-elected to their second, one-year terms following a recommendation of the nominations committee.

           Trustees approved an addition to the Student Code of Conduct establishing graduated penalties with educational components for students who violate campus smoking rules. The request was presented by the Division of Student Life.

           In routine formal action, trustees approved the minutes of the April 17 meeting as well as reports covering contracts, fixed assets and service and supply purchase orders.

           Council was told of 39 instructional appointments for summer and fall, and 39 staff appointments.

           The retirements of Walter Powell, 44-year professor of political science, Robert McIlvain, 37-year English professor, Sandra Stevenson, 18-year director of training and employee services in the Office of Human Resources, and Rosemary Grgurnia, 21-year clerk typist III in the Office of Graduate Admissions, were announced. Powell was also granted professor emeritus status.

           Council's next scheduled meeting is Oct. 2.


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.


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