March 28, 2011
Advocacy efforts gain traction
I learned this weekend from legislators and others closely associated with the budget debates in the Pennsylvania legislature that our advocacy on behalf of SRU is getting traction. We still need people to contact their legislators to let them know how important public higher education is in Pennsylvania. This is working!
Our legislative friends want your help in letting them know that you believe that SRU is a quality institution at an affordable cost. Our six-year graduation rate is well above the national average for public universities. Our graduates stay in Pennsylvania, including a disproportionate rate of our out-of-state students, to contribute to building the state’s economy. SRU is a “brain-gain” source of talent for Pennsylvania. According to an independent economic analysis study, every dollar invested in SRU by Pennsylvania taxpayers returns $18.60 in tangible benefits to the State (higher income taxes, lower crime, better health).
March 26, 2011
Parents, first-year students express concern
Today I met with incoming first-year students and their parents at Orientation. As you can imagine, they have heard all the newscasts and are rightfully concerned with what this means to them.
I was honest in my response. The proposed budget would mean a reduction of $24 million for the 2011-12 year for Slippery Rock University. This would be a great challenge for us, but at this point in the budget process we do not know exactly what that means. What we do know is this:
* We will not compromise on the quality of education a student receives at SRU.
* Our faculty will remain with more than 90 percent full time teaching professors without using any graduate students to teach or hiring less qualified adjuncts to staff lecture halls.
* The return on a student’s educational investment through successful careers and enhanced quality of life is still very high.
* We remain committed to providing a high quality education at an affordable cost. While it is anticipated that we will need to increase tuition, we remain committed to continuing our efforts to make Slippery Rock University an affordable choice for higher education.
My overall message to our incoming freshman and their parents was that in these uncertain times, they could put aside their worries about one matter: We are focused on our commitment to each student’s success and achievement. We will deliver on our promise to provide a ROCK SOLID education.
March 21, 2011
Rally energizes advocacy efforts
An APSCUF organized rally today drew more than 150 participants who came out to protest the proposed cuts to higher education. The message was one we have been sharing since the day Gov. Corbett made his budget recommendations – SRU provides a quality education at and affordable price and we have the data to prove it.
* SRU’s six-year graduation rate (60.6) is comparable to many private, four-year liberal arts colleges. The national average (2008) was 55.9 percent.
* SRU and its alumni contribute approximately $334 million each year to the regional economy – the equivalent of 9,020 average wage jobs.
* The percent of SRU students who settle in the county (16.4 percent) is greater than the percent of students who come from Butler County (14.5 percent)
* SRU activities encourage new business, assist existing business and create long-term economic growth. The University enhances worker skills and provides trained workers to local business and industry.
* State and local taxpayers earn a 5.5 percent rate of return on their investment in SRU.
* We are a “brain gain” for Pennsylvania; not a “brain drain.
Our best strategy is to continue to tell our story in the language the governor and legislature understands, and refrain from doomsday histrionics. As Josh Young, the chair of our Council of Trustees put it, “SRU was here long before this crisis and we will be here long after this crisis.”
March 18, 2011
Budget forums bring pleasant surprise
This week I hosted two open forums to discuss our budget challenge and begin the process of engaging the campus community in budget discussions. I honestly expected to have about 50-60 people at each of the sessions. Boy was I surprised. More than 800 students, faculty and staff turned out to listen and offer their support.
First and foremost, my goal was to assure everyone that SRU remains fully committed to our core mission of providing a quality education at an affordable price and to creating opportunities that will ensure our students’ success, both in their careers and in their lives.
As I told the gathering, it is important at this point in the process for each person to (1) stay informed; (2) participate in the process; and (3) advocate for higher education. Web sites such as this one and our budget planning site http://administration.sru.edu/president/budget/index.php will provide you with timely updates, budget news from around the Commonwealth, and talking points you can use as you advocate for SRU.
The Slippery Rock University facts, found in the tools section of this site tell a wonderful story about the great work we are doing. Learn them and use them in your personal conversations and letters to your elected representatives and media outlets. Now is not the time to be humble. You have permission to brag.
March 10, 2011
Governor drops budget bombshell
The campus, indeed all of higher education, is reeling from the Governor’s announcement this week that he is proposing to cut the state appropriation to the State System of Higher Education by 50 percent.
It is true that the Governor faced an enormous challenge in putting together a budget during these difficult economic times. It is also true that a cut of this magnitude would be a significant challenge for Slippery Rock University. About 36 percent of our budget comes directly from state appropriations. Based on the proposed budget, this would mean a reduction of $24 million for the 2011-12 year for SRU.
My executive team is already looking at several scenarios as to how we could meet this challenge. As we’ve done in the past when faced with other challenges, we will take a reasoned and deliberate approach, stay true to our strategic plan and core values, and seek the input and guidance from our entire campus family.
I continue to have to remind myself, and others, that this is just a proposed budget and only the first step in what promises to be a lively discussion in Harrisburg and across the Commonwealth. Still, the Governor’s announcement was difficult to hear.