SRU President Karen Riley provides updates on enrollment, finances and strategic plan at Fall Assembly
Slippery Rock University President Karen Riley speaks at the Fall Assembly, Sept. 14, where she shared updates about the University’s finances, enrollment and strategic plan.
Sept. 14, 2023
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University President Karen Riley addressed the campus community, Sept. 14, at the Smith Student Center Ballroom, as part of a Fall Assembly and Town Hall Meeting. Riley provided updates regarding the University's finances, enrollment data and projections, as well as the forthcoming strategic plan. The event marked Riley's first in-person meeting open to all faculty, staff and students since she began her role as president July 1.
"We are all contributors to the SRU community and our shared mission," Riley said. "Now is an important and exciting time for everyone to come together and acknowledge where we are now and where we are going."
Riley gave the audience a preview of the University's next strategic plan that is being implemented with input from a committee representing a diverse array of perspectives from the campus community. The strategic planning process, which began in late 2021, is in the revising stage and the plan will be implemented later this fall.
"The strategic plan will guide us as a University and we'll continually assess what we do, evaluate our outcomes and amend the plan," Riley said. "We must be nimble and adapt to the ever-changing needs of the people we serve and the landscape of higher education. Our mission to provide the highest quality education at the lowest possible price will remain constant, but the way we deliver on that promise must evolve."
The proposed strategic plan has four pillars the represent the University's commitments to:
- Robust, supportive and inclusive culture;
- Academic discovery and human growth;
- Community impact and collaboration;
- Financial sustainability and resources stewardship.
Carrie Birckbichler, SRU vice president of finance and administration, provided an overview of the University's finances. SRU is expecting a balanced budget in 2023-24, which includes a 7% state appropriation increase and no tuition increase for a fifth consecutive year.
"We can't assume that what worked in the past will continue in the future," Riley said. "For the University to remain financially viable, we must invest in new programs, new partnerships and new approaches, all while reducing spending where we can."
Riley also shared news that SRU's enrollment has increased 1.4% compared to last year. There were 8,362 students enrolled as of the 15th day of classes in the Fall 2023 semester, which is 119 more students compared to the same day last year. These numbers are subject to change as Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education will verify and report enrollments by Oct. 9. However, census data for schools are taken on the 15th day of the semester for national and state reporting purposes.
Included in the 8,362 students are a record 1,547 graduate students, surpassing SRU's previous high of 1,503 in Fall 2021, as well as 1,535 first-year students, the largest class size since 2019 and a 5.2% increase from last year.
"We are encouraged that SRU remains an institution of choice," Riley said. "Despite many economic challenges, we continue to thrive, and that's a testament to the people we have here. Our faculty and staff are committed to creating a place for our students to succeed, and our students and their families believe in the value that comes with earning a college education. It's important, not only in the job market, but in students' development as citizens, community members and people."
To further develop and maintain SRU's positive campus culture, Riley introduced a new initiative called "You Rock" that was inspired by faculty at one of her previous institutions, the University of Denver. Members of the campus community will be recognized by each other for acts of kindness with small rocks that say, "You Rock." The name of a person recognized for their kindness will be entered into a prize drawing. More information for this initiative will be shared by email with the campus community.
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