SRU President forecasts ‘perfect financial storm’
At the State of the University address Thursday, it was announced by President Cheryl J. Norton that if no changes are made to the budget within the next three years, SRU is predicted to have a deficit of $28,901,329.
According to Norton, most of the money earned by SRU goes towards paying faculty salaries.
SRU has $37,780,426 in reserve, but that money is already allocated for specific uses.
“It’s reserve money, it’s one time only money,” Norton explained. “It’s not being replaced and it’s being used for annual costs that are not being litigated. It’s like using you’re savings account to cover your rent.”
Faculty cuts are being utilized at other PASSHE universities, and Norton stated that it is not out of the question for SRU. No cuts have been announced yet.
Norton explained that as state funding has decreased, SRU’s dependence on tuition has increased. This is a problem because the number of students enrolled at SRU has been decreasing.
Each 100 students lost costs the university approximately $765,220, explained Norton.
Other universities are considering lowering requirements for students to enroll in order to increase the amount of revenue coming from tuition.
“We do not want to bring into this institution students just to be paychecks,” Norton explained. “We will always want quality students who can take advantage of our institutions excellent educational opportunities.”
Norton said that even if tuition increased by 10%, that would still not be enough to keep SRU from going into deficit. She added that SRU would never increase tuition by that much.
“We’re consistently being told, ‘do not anticipate any tuition increase at all,’” explained Norton.`
SRU plans to employ new strategies to attract new students, including the use of more online classes and more year-round classes. Attracting nontraditional students is another strategy that SRU is planning on using.
Norton stated that she is open to any ideas that faculty or staff could provide to help with the financial situation.
“Folks, we’ve looked, we’ve measured, we’ve added, we’ve subtracted,” Norton said. “There’s no golden bullet. There’s no pot of money out there that can satisfy this need when you’re in this perfect financial storm. It doesn’t exist.”
Norton remains optimistic for the future of the university.
“Will we get through this?” Norton asked. “Absolutely. I’m just not saying that it will be easy. But we will get through it. Next year is this institution’s 125 birthday. We’ve been through many challenges Maybe not all of us at the same time, but we are in this boat together. We will grow together and make it work.”