Despite a projected $4.6 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, Slippery Rock University’s Council of Trustees unanimously approved their fiscal year 2020-2021 budget during their quarterly budget meeting on Sept. 24.
The university projects it will fall short $1.8 million of its education and general funds obligations. The other $2.8 million shortfalls will affect the school’s auxiliary operations.
Trustee William McCarrier, who chairs the finance and administrative affairs committee, told the council that while the deficit is substantial, it can be completely covered by university reserves. While the current pandemic and move to more remote instruction was stated as the cause for the majority of the deficit, McCarrier said the shortfall in the education and general funds was a lot smaller than originally projected due to stable enrollment and cost savings implemented by the administration that are making hard decisions.
“I just want to commend on behalf of the committee and all of you trustees, the fine job our administration, our faculty and everybody connected with the university has done to bring this deficit down,” McCarrier said.
According to slides provided to the council, the university’s education and general funds and auxiliary budgets saw surpluses of $4.2 million and $1.3 million respectively last fiscal year. The documents state the cause of these large surpluses were due to decreased costs concerning the campus closure and funding provided to the university by the CARES Act.
SRU has received approximately $6.7 million in CARES relief funding, according to documents provided by the finance committee.
Along with budgetary shortfalls, Slippery Rock University’s Advancement Office reported that it had missed its gift income goal by 4.6%.
Despite this, SRU did receive two big donations related to its safety management program. The university advancement committee stated it was receiving an in-kind gift totaling $204,950, which will consist of five years of arc flash awareness training and SRU specific case studies, from Falcon Power Consultants.
The university will also receive an in-kind gift totaling $112,187 in training and equipment will be provided by New Pig Corporation. New Pig’s training, which makes absorbents for the hazardous material and waste management industries, will provide safety management students with knowledge in the latest with spill control and handling.
With their donations, the university advancement committee recommended that classroom 201 and 204, along with administrative suite 106 in the Strain Safety Building be renamed to honor the two companies’ relationship with the university.
The council unanimously approved the measure, renaming rooms 201 and 106 the Falcon Power Consultants Classroom and Falcon Power Consultants Administrative Suite. Also approved was renaming room 204 to the New Pig Classroom.
The council also took the time to recognize two former trustees for the work they did while a member of the council.
The former trustees, Thomas Breth and former State Sen. Mary Jo White were recognized by the council for their outstanding service and leadership while “having to make hard decisions,” as was stated in their commendations.
“I think it is wonderful that you’re thanking me, but I should be thanking you for having the opportunity to serve on that board at Slippery Rock [University],” White said. “What a wonderful place.”
McCarrier, who served as a Butler County Commissioner while White was in office, said of White that she was never selfish and “lived to serve people.”
White said her personal favorite accomplishment was getting the performing arts building project off the ground. Council Chair Matt Lautman said he looks forward to when things get better and they can invite White and others back to open the building.
Joey Scuito, Slippery Rock Student Government Association (SGA) president, briefed the council on the new senate structure implementation and where the senate stands after holding its elections last month.
Scuito said that in an act of transparency, the executive board will be publishing a list of each member’s goals for the year. Each board member will have two to three goals with at least one of those focused on diversity.
The council also received an update on new Title IX regulations that were implemented over the summer as required by the Department of Education, along with PASSHE’s new amorous relationship policy.
The policy officially bars employees from engaging in consensual relationships with other employees and students who they may have managerial oversight over, provide instruction to or have a professional responsibility for. Any pre-existing relationships had to be disclosed to the university by Sept. 12.
The Council of Trustees will meet for their next quarterly meeting on Dec. 10.