Budget situation continues as topic at Faculty Senate

University Park, Pa. — Penn State officials hope to keep tuition increases for 2011-12 very moderate, despite a potentially significant cut to the University's appropriation from the Commonwealth, President Graham Spanier said Thursday (April 28) speaking to the University Faculty Senate.

"We are determined that this tuition increase will not be unusual, despite the unusual challenge with which we are faced," Spanier said. "If we can, we want to make it the typical increase students expect in a normal year."

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed a $182 million reduction in state appropriations to the University, a cut of more than 52 percent. Spanier said in order to moderate the tuition increase, the University will have to make some difficult choices. The University already has implemented a salary freeze for the coming year, put on hold new construction until project funding is certain and continued aggressive internal cost-savings measures, as well as offered an early retirement plan for faculty and staff in two units hardest hit by budget projections.

Spanier told the Senate he is hopeful the proposed cut to the University will be moderated in the General Assembly, but does expect a reduction in funding.

"We acknowledge the state's situation, and the governor has inherited a significant problem," Spanier said. "The governor is in a tough spot and we are supportive of his efforts to get the state's budget in order. We will do our fair share, but we are continuing to make our case for moderation in the level of cuts to our appropriation."

A number of state legislators have indicated that they wish to complete the state budget by the July 1 deadline and would prefer to have it finished earlier. Spanier said an early completion of the budget would be beneficial to Penn State because it would allow University officials more time to plan Penn State's own budget, including tuition rates, which will be set at the July 15 Board of Trustees meeting.

Penn State officials have explained previously that a significant cut in state appropriations would have profound impacts across the University.

The president and Rod Erickson, executive vice president and provost, also provided an update on the work of Academic and Administrative Services Review Core Council, the group chaired by Erickson and charged by Spanier with identifying millions in permanent cost savings and new non-tuition revenue sources for the University for the coming fiscal year.

Erickson said nearly all academic colleges at University Park now have received recommendations from the Core Council. About two-thirds of academic support units have received their recommendations, and campus chancellors are expected to receive their recommendations in about a month. Erickson said he expects most recommendations to be delivered by the end of the summer, and that a majority of savings identified by the Core Council will come from operations and administrative cost savings rather than academic programs.

He added that implementation of recommendations affecting core academic programs, including program phase-outs or departmental reorganizations, would not be acted upon without normal consultation with appropriate Faculty Senate committees.

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Last Updated May 02, 2011