Harrisburg – Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Chancellor Frank T. Brogan and other System leaders today urged members of both the House and Senate appropriations committees to support increased investment in the state-owned universities as they consider the proposed 2017-18 Commonwealth budget.
The State System’s Board of Governors has requested a 2017-18 state appropriation of $505.2 million to help support the operations of the 14 universities. That total would represent an increase of $61 million from the amount the System is receiving this year, and would partially offset nearly $80 million in increased costs projected for next year.
“All of our universities continue to face enormous cost pressures,” Mr. Brogan told members of both committees. “They continue to be innovative and are much more efficient with the resources they have available. But increased investment by the Commonwealth is essential as they strive to provide the high-quality, high-value educational opportunities our students, their families—and you—have come to expect.
“Those opportunities not only are essential to the students who attend the universities, but also to every one of us living here in Pennsylvania. We’re really talking about an investment if the Commonwealth’s future.”
The State System has received increased support from the state in each of the last two years, but the funding total remains about $60 million less than the amount the universities received a decade ago, just prior to the beginning of the recession. Since then, the universities have eliminated an estimated $325 million from their base budgets and have trimmed their workforce significantly. There are about 1,000 fewer full-time employees on the campuses today than there were just seven years ago. The impact of those reductions has been felt across all of the universities, affecting virtually every area of campus operations.
The chancellor appeared today before both of the appropriations committees along with Dr. David L. Soltz, president of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; Logan L. Steigerwalt, president of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania’s Student Government Association; and Lois Johnson, State System associate vice chancellor for administration and finance.
Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira also attended the budget hearings to express the Board’s appreciation for the past support the State System has received from both the General Assembly and the governor, and to encourage even greater investment in the System and its students.
“Our students obviously are our top priority, but everyone truly does benefit from the state’s investment in its public universities,” Ms. Shapira said.
The State System will continue to seek support for its appropriations request in the coming weeks and months as the 2017-18 state budget discussions move forward.
“Today’s hearings were important, but are just part of the process,” Mr. Brogan said. “We will continue to advocate on behalf of our students and our outstanding faculty and staff for the investment necessary to support our universities and the outstanding educational opportunities they provide.”
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, enrolling more than 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more in certificate and other career-development programs. Collectively, the 14 universities that comprise the State System offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. Nearly 520,000 State System university alumni live in Pennsylvania.
The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operate branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP), and Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and in Center City in Philadelphia.