SRU weighs in on Edinboro’s deficit

Published by adviser, Author: Kevin Squires - Assistant News Editor, Date: September 19, 2013
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The Edinboro University Operations and Workforce Plan reported a focus directed toward phasing out of the German, music, music education, philosophy and world languages and culture baccalaureate programs.

Students will have the opportunity to finish out their degree if they are already enrolled in the program, but new students will not be admitted for the programs. General education courses will still be offered within the various departments.

This announcement comes as the second Pa. state school to make substantial alterations to programming, following Clarion’s workforce plan which cites 22 expected faculty eliminations in a variety of departments including English, geography, music, modern languages, psychology, and theater.

Creating a stir amongst media sources, the schools have drawn a lot of attention to themselves and have become a topic on the mind of some Slippery Rock University professors.

Dr. Colleen Gray, a professor of music at Slippery Rock University and a member of the executive council with SRU APSCUF,  feels that this may have done significant damage. She said “They [Edinboro and Clarion] made a big pronouncement which I think was a PR fiasco and was very, very negative…they’ve done tremendous damage to their programs.”

Gray depicted Slippery Rock University’s approach as seeking to alleviate the problem. She added,“They[SRU Administration] are going to be more deliberative, more careful…They’re looking at how they can alleviate the problem”

Edinboro is facing a $5.5 million deficit for the current fiscal year according to the plan.

In justification of the cuts, Edinboro University’s plan explained, “Our current student-faculty ratio is 16.5; our budget model indicates that it must be just above 20 to break even.”

Many sources for the issues are cited for the deficit, including declining high school enrollment, declining enrollment at the University, and declining state funding.

SRU President Cheryl Norton described a similar phenomenon for the University, describing a “perfect financial storm” during the State of the University address last week, preparing for a $5.2 million deficit. Clarion University also cited declining enrollment and a decrease in state funding partially accounting for their projected deficit in their workforce plan.

Dr. Bradley Wilson, chairperson of Slippery Rock’s philosophy department, cited state funding as the main problem source for Slippery Rock University’s financial woes. “I believe that Governor Corbett’s actions are to blame for the situation Slippery Rock University is in.” he said.

Gray added in support, “If we get a new governor who’s more positive, who’s more supportive of public education, then we could do really well.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures released a report this summer showing that state general fund spending on higher education grew 5.1 percent for higher education. That growth, on average, was more than for any major category aside from Medicaid.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania State funding for the State System was cut 18 percent in 2011-12, from $444.5 million to $412.8 million, and that appropriation has remained stagnant ever since.

Though Wilson admitted that there were budgetary issues that needed resolved, he stated that the University has seemed very conscious of addressing the problems early on.

“I’m pleased in everything I’ve heard publically from the President and Provost.” Wilson stated, “They support a liberal arts philosophy and we [as a department] hope to provide that role to students.”

Wilson mentioned the University communication with Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) has been very open. “It’s much more frequent now than in the past.” Wilson said. The groups have been meeting on a weekly basis to maintain clear communication.

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