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President Whitney's Update on 2011-12 PA Proposed Budget

Whitney - 2011 PA Budget Clarion University President Karen M. Whitney provides regular updates to the community on Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget for Pennsylvania. Below are her updates, with the most current appearing first. 

 

Aug. 2, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

As we move from July into August with less than 30 days until the start of the fall semester, I am pleased to send you an update on our budget. There are two key items I want to say up front:

1. We have a balanced budget for this year; and
2. As of the date of this email, we have no plans to eliminate any programs or services that would result in a retrenchment or furlough of any full-time, regular employees.

Let me go over the key items.

What we know:

Regarding Our Revenues
State appropriations: Our funding from the state for 2011-12 is 18 percent less than the previous year. This is better news than we anticipated earlier this year, but please be clear this is a difficult and challenging time for the university. When all the numbers are added up, this results in an $8.9 million gap in funding. After months of hard work and planning we have balanced the budget by asking students to help pay for one third of this shortfall and, at the same time, we reduced our operating expenses by two thirds.

Student tuition: The PASSHE Board of Governors approved an increase in student tuition this fall of $323 (or 11 percent) for each full-time student per semester. The board voted to increase the Technology Tuition Fee this fall by $100 (or 10 percent) for each full-time student per semester. We estimate this decision will increase revenue by $1.1 million.

Student fees: On July 21, the Clarion University Council of Trustees approved a recommended increase to student fees. We estimate this decision will increase revenue by $2 million.

Regarding Our Expenses
Our operating budget was reduced by $6 million this year. This was achieved after many hours of discussion and hard work on the part of faculty and staff, led by deans, directors and department chairs within each of the responsibility centers (RCs). A description of the reduction in expenses can be found on the Financial Planning website http://www.clarion.edu/262718/.

The Last Unknown: Our Enrollment
A key factor in our funding is the number of students we enroll each year. Our projected enrollment continues to be 5 percent lower than this time last year. All of us need to work hard to recruit and enroll more qualified students. I ask everyone throughout the university to continue to contribute to our student enrollment. At this point, this is the only item that remains in flux. As an FYI, a 5 percent increase in enrollment could add $2 million to our budget each year.

Going Forward
To be sure, we will have less money this year than last year. As the 12 RCs continue to cut costs and increase revenue to achieve a balanced budget, the leadership and governance bodies of the university will continue to work together. We will maintain our mission and commitment to students, teaching, research and public service.
Go Eagles!

Karen

 


June 30, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

As we finished the spring semester, we all knew that this would be a difficult summer for our budget. While we have the privilege to do what we love to do - teaching, research, public service, as well as offering services, programs and facilities in ways that make Clarion so special - at the same time we are also taking action across the university to ensure our continued financial capacity by eliminating, adjusting and expanding what we do in ways to increase revenues and decrease expenses. This is difficult. This has required a tremendous amount of hard work, determination and courage on the part of many, and I thank you.

What we know:
The state:
In March the governor proposed a 54 percent reduction in state funding to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and therefore Clarion as a member university. After budget hearings before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees (I joined the chancellor at the house hearings), the house introduced and passed a budget outline that reduced the loss of funds to 15 percent. In subsequent negotiations between the governor and the General Assembly an agreement was reached to set the PASSHE reduction at 18 percent, which was adopted as part of the final budget document. This translates into a combined total loss of $90 million in federal and state funding, or approximately $800 per full-time student.

PASSHE Board of Governors:
This week the PASSHE Board of Governors voted to increase student tuition this fall by $218 (or 7.5 percent) per full-time student each semester. The adopted tuition rate retains the pledge made by the chancellor and the other leaders of the system that students and their families would not be expected to share the full burden of replacing lost state and federal funding.

The University Council of Trustees will meet July 21 to set student fees for the fall semester.

Our enrollment:
A key factor to our funding is the number of students we enroll each year. At this time our projected enrollment is 5 percent lower this year than last. All of us need to work hard to recruit and enroll qualified students. I ask everyone throughout the university to work to contribute to strengthening our student enrollment.

Reorganizing to thrive:
As outlined in the Presidential 500 Day Plan, we have divided our university operating budget into 12 centers of responsibility which will guide us as we create revenues and manage our expenses. A Planning, Assessment and Improvement website, which will provide updates, information and resources, is under development and should be available by Aug. 1.

The best guess budget for 2011-12:
Our best guess takes our budget from 2010-11, reduces the state share by 18 percent, adds a tuition increase of 7.5 percent, and assumes a 5 percent decrease in enrollment. The state portion and the tuition are now known. The fees and our actual enrollment are not known as of this date. As of this date we have calculated a best guess budget shortfall for the entire university of $8.8 million. Everyone responsible for an RC is working closely with finance to come to terms with their operating budget for 2011-12 in light of this shortfall. Please know that this shortfall is being shared by all responsibility centers.

To be clear, until we know exact numbers of all our revenues, expenses and enrollment for 2011-12, this will continue to be a best guess. We must guess and not wait for the final calculation, because budget decisions must be done in a timely manner to be most effective.

Filling in the budget gap: To be sure, we will have less money this year over last year. As the 12 responsibility centers take action to achieve a balanced budget through cutting costs and increasing revenues, this information will be posted to the Planning website.

Going forward: The leadership of the university - the folks in the offices of provost, vice presidents, deans and intercollegiate athletics - has been working all summer to review how we can maximize revenues and reduce costs. We will redouble our efforts and report back to you.

Keeping to our mission: This is a time that we must keep to our mission.

Students Count.
They are why we exist. Every one of us is key to each student choosing to attend and choosing to stay. Between what the state allocates and what the student pays to Clarion University, we will receive over $11,400 per full-time student this year.

Teaching Counts.
We earn the majority of our funding from the credit hours our faculty teaches. Organizing ourselves to make the most of our teaching is important to our mission and to funding our mission.

Applied Research Counts.
The research our faculty conducts builds our academic reputation, brings cutting-edge knowledge to the classroom and informs practitioners.

Public Engagement Counts.
It is the way we distribute our teaching, learning and research to our many communities outside of the university.

We will first balance our budget, then we will invest, and then we will thrive.

Go Eagles!

Karen

 


 

June 10, 2011

In February the governor proposed a 54 percent reduction in state funding to Clarion University. This proposal was sent to the State Assembly, which is the State Senate and the State House of Representatives. The house passed a bill that would reduce our state funding 15 percent. This bill has gone to the senate. The senate continues to work on the legislation and we remain available to answer any questions and to make the case for the state's continued investment in higher education. The governor and legislature had promised to deliver a completed budget for 2011-12 (our fiscal year starts July 1) by June 1. As of the date of this email, the budget has not gone to the governor. So, we wait. We will continue to operate based on our best financial assumptions with or without a budget from the state.

The PASSHE Board of Governors plans to meet June 29 and 30. A major outcome of this meeting we believe will be tuition rates for 2011-12.

The Clarion University Council of Trustees will meet July 18. A major agenda item for that meeting will be setting the fees for 2011-12.

After receiving information from the legislature, board of governors and the trustees, we will know if we have any further gaps in our budget. I know that everyone has been working hard for the last several months under the leadership of our deans, vice presidents and the provost to review all funds and to adjust our revenues and expenses to best position us to meet our budget obligations for 2011-12.

There will be a series of important meetings with campus governance and our union leadership. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss in detail the impact that each of the events listed above will have on the university. After each milestone point, I will provide an update to you via email.

The meeting schedule with campus governance leaders (faculty and student) and with all unions is as follows:

June 22, 3 p.m., 108 Eagle Commons
July 28, 3 p.m., 108 Eagle Commons
August 11, 1 p.m., 108 Eagle Commons

We will continue to work hard to advance our vision, mission in service to our students, their families and our community.

 

 



 

April 28, 2011

 

As promised, this email is the weekly update related to the governor's proposed budget and its impact on Clarion University. This will be the last update for this semester. I expect to issue the next budget update June 1.

Let me go over with you what we know today in terms of our budget situation.

Still the facts:

The governor's proposed budget cut and the need to fund unavoidable, projected cost increases currently mean a $17.5-million or 21-percent overall budget reduction next year at Clarion University. Our budget year is July 1 - June 30.

Actions:

Please advocate now.
If you have not reached out in person, by phone or via a personal letter to your state senator or representative, please do so before commencement. Given that we are a state-owned university, it is fair to ask the state to reinstate its financial commitment to Clarion and the other PASSHE universities. Because the state has historically made a greater commitment to Clarion, a 50-percent cut is a much greater portion of our budget in real dollars than it is for state-related institutions. Clarion educates students who are from Pennsylvania and who stay in Pennsylvania after graduation.

Planning for our future.
In collaboration with campus governance, we will hold meetings during the summer to determine how best to collaborate in constructing a budget that will allow us to serve our mission next year. In June and July, as we come to know our actual funding from the state, our actual tuition approved by the system board of governors, and the actual fees approved by the university council of trustees, we will work together in making decisions on how to increase our revenues and decrease our expenses. In this way we can balance our budget then invest in the strongest fiscal, enrollment and employment areas of the university in order to thrive.

Continue sending me suggestions on how to increase our revenues and/or reduce our costs.
I am working with our folks in finance and administration and the campus leadership to review the many good ideas received so far, and I hope to post our review next week on the Clarion University website. I will keep you updated.

Click on the "Get Connected with PASSHE" button on our site for the latest news on the budget and other information that affects all of the PASSHE universities.

 

 


 

 

April 18, 2011

Colleagues,

As promised, this email is the weekly update related to the governor's proposed budget and its impact on Clarion University.

Let me go over with you what we know today in terms of our budget situation.

Still the facts:

The governor's proposed budget cut and the need to fund unavoidable, projected cost increases currently mean a $17.5-million or 21-percent overall budget reduction next year at Clarion University. Our budget year is July 1 - June 30.

Actions:

  • Planning for Our Future. Today Jamie Phillips received a letter from me which provided the the required official notice of possible retrenchments of faculty. To be clear this is a serious letter that was only sent now because of the current state of the budget process for the next fiscal year. It was important to send this letter now so that the local APSCUF chapter leadership and the campus leadership can coordinate a series of meet and discusses over the summer. By coordinating in April how we will work together in May, June, July, and August, we can best collaborate in constructing a budget which will allow us to serve our mission next year. In June and July, as we come to know our actual funding from the state and our actual tuition approved by the System Board of Governors and the actual fees approved by the University Council of Trustees we will work together in making decisions how how to increase our revenues as well as how to decrease our expenses. In this way we can first balance our budget, invest in our strongest fiscal, enrollment and employment areas in order to thrive.
  • Keep sending suggestions to me on how to increase our revenues and/or reduce our costs. I am working with our folks in finance and administration and the campus leadership to review the many good ideas received so far and hope to post our review on the web soon. I will keep you updated.

 

Click on the "Get Connected with PASSHE" button on our site for the latest news on the budget and other information that affects all of the PASSHE universities.

Many thanks to everyone who has advocated for Clarion University by calling and writing your elected officials and by talking with you family and friends about how public higher education makes a difference in our community and in the lives of our students and their families.

 

 


 

 

April 12, 2011

Colleagues,

As promised, this email is the weekly update related to the governor's proposed budget and its impact on Clarion University.  

It is clear to me that over the next few years we will face many financial challenges that will require us to be focused, work hard and be clear about our priorities as we plan for our future.  We must act in ways that, whenever possible, allow us to build our financial resources to ensure our ability to teach, research and serve.   It is easy to believe that the proposed extraordinary reduction in state funding is a crisis. I ask that we step back and, with courage and conviction, work to identify and pursue opportunities that may be around us. To be sure, there are risks and dangers, but there are also opportunities.  One thing that makes a situation become a crisis is holding on to old ways of coping that no longer work and, as such, we must move to new ways of doing our important work.  This is the opportunity.

Together, in a civil and thoughtful manner, we will strategically shape our future.  We are currently working to balance our budgets.  This may take years, and it may be difficult.  Then we will move to a point of making more money than we spend, and at that time we will be able to strategically invest in the university in ways that will allow us to service our mission.  We can only balance our budgets in two ways: grow our income and/or reduce our expenses. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, we will achieve a balanced budget, and we can move to investing in growth. 

The investments will be informed by three planning principles: 1) fiscal strength, 2) enrollment strength and 3) employment strength.  We have talked about these financial planning principles and will continue to discuss and define them further.  Through respect, trust and dialogue, we will move the university forward as good stewards of our mission and resources. 

Let me go over with you what we know today in terms of our budget situation.  

Still the facts:

The governor's proposed budget cut and the need to fund unavoidable, projected cost increases currently mean a $17.5-million or 21-percent overall budget reduction next year at Clarion University.  Our budget year is July 1 - June 30.

Actions:

  • Planning for Our Future. I had hoped to start university planning this year, but given all of the changes and challenges I suggest that we table our planning efforts until fall 2011. In 2011-2012, we will develop a university strategic directions plan. Once this plan is completed, we will develop an academic plan, a student life plan and a finance and administration plan to guide, in greater detail, these important divisions that comprise the university. These plans will define our university's future.
  • Keep sending suggestions to me on how to increase our revenues and/or reduce our costs. I have received many good ideas and welcome more.

Click on the "Get Connected with PASSHE" button for the latest news on the budget and other information that affects all of the PASSHE universities.

Together we have the opportunity to showcase what makes Clarion great:  commitment to our students, respect for one another and support of our community and the commonwealth.

Keep advocating for Clarion University.  If you are interested in advocating for our university, please contact Brooke Murray, executive director of the alumni association, at 814-393-1784 or bmurray@cuf-inc.com.



 

April 5, 2011

As promised, this e-mail is the weekly update related to the governor's proposed budget and its impact on Clarion University.

The legislature continues to review the governor's proposal and is considering for themselves how best to move forward in funding public higher education, including the extent they will fund Clarion University.

Let me go over with you what we know today in terms of our budget situation.

Still the facts:

The governor's proposed budget cut and the need to fund unavoidable, projected cost increases currently means a $17.5-million or 21 percent overall budget reduction next year at Clarion University.

Actions:

*Taking our message to Harrisburg.   Two important activities took place recently:
--Last week PASSHE Chancellor John Cavanaugh, Bloomsburg University President David Soltz and I met with the State House Appropriations Committee where we discussed PASSHE's 2011-12 appropriations request. Their questions were tough, but fair.
--PASSHE Advocacy Days are taking place this week in Harrisburg (April 4-5). The activity is designed to help legislators better understand the benefits the system brings to the commonwealth. The following have joined me as part of the Clarion delegation: Pat Kahle, president, Clarion University Alumni Association; David Bailey ('68), treasurer, alumni association; Shawn Hoke ('95), director, Center for Leadership and Involvement; and Clarion University students Greg Goreczny, Mark Liberto, Craig McFeely, Chris Myers and Benjamin Sturtz. We met with state representatives on Monday and will meet with state senators on Tuesday to talk about how the governor's proposal would affect students and their families.

*Keep sending suggestions to me on how to increase our revenues and/or reduce our costs. I have received many good ideas and welcome more. We will soon post these suggestions on our website with an analysis of the possible increases in revenues and/or cost savings.

*Advocate for Clarion University. The alumni association has been working with our student leadership to tell their stories. If you are a student, a parent of a student or an alum, and have not yet called or written to your legislators, please contact Brooke Murray, executive director of the alumni association (phone 814-393-1784 or e-mail bmurray@cuf-inc.org) to learn how to contribute.

*A focused and disciplined approach to our finances. Last week I met with the union leadership. We had a candid discussion about concerns related to the budget. We will continue to keep in touch as we learn more about the state's funding, the tuition approved for next year and how these decisions could affect any gap between our revenues and our expenses.

Click on the "Get Connected with PASSHE" button on our site for the latest news regarding the budget and other information that affects all the PASSHE universities.

Together we have the opportunity to showcase what makes Clarion great: commitment to our students, respect for one another and support of our community and the commonwealth.

 


 


April 4, 2011

The current budget proposal and debate have caused stress for all of us as we attempt to anticipate and plan for what the final funding appropriation from the Commonwealth will be for 2011-2012.

I am impressed with the level of concern employees have expressed, not only for the university but, more importantly, for the students we serve. I am also appreciative of the various suggestions for helping with the budget that have been provided to members of the university leadership team.

As I have communicated to you and, as you have seen in news accounts, the appropriation process is just that - a process. It is important that we plan for all possible outcomes but also that we keep in mind it is a process and that there is no certainty at this point as to what the final state appropriation provided to the University will be.

It is a testament to the quality education that is provided to our students that many of them have chosen to participate in both the advocacy efforts as well as the debate on the Commonwealth Budget Process. We recognize that the process, advocacy efforts, and debate on the appropriation present a valuable educational experience for students. I would ask that all employees, whether faculty in the classroom or staff who work with students, be thoughtful in their interactions with students to not unnecessarily alarm them regarding the future cost of education at Clarion. I also want to express that students have a right to agree or disagree with any budget proposal.

I ask for your continued support as we plan appropriately during the budget process. Please feel free to share any suggestions, concerns or comments you have that you feel would be beneficial as we work through this process together.

Click on the "Get Connected with PASSHE" button on our site for the latest news regarding the budget and other information that affects all the PASSHE universities.

Together we have the opportunity to showcase what makes Clarion great: commitment to our students, respect for one another and support of our community and the Commonwealth.

 


 


March 28, 2011

As promised, this e-mail is the weekly update related to the governor's proposed budget and its impact upon Clarion University.

It is clear to me that we are in the middle of a political process. The governor has presented his position and now the legislature is reviewing his proposal and considering for themselves how best to move forward in funding public higher education, including the extent they will fund Clarion University.

Let me go over with you what we know today in terms of our budget situation.

Still the facts:

The governor's proposed budget cut and the need to fund unavoidable, projected cost increases currently means a $17.5-million or 21% overall budget reduction next year at Clarion University.

Actions:

  • Taking our message to Harrisburg. PASSHE Chancellor John Cavanaugh, Bloomsburg University President David Soltz and I will appear this afternoon (March 28) before the State House Appropriations Committee to discuss PASSHE's 2011-12 appropriations request. PASSHE's budget hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. It can be viewed live at http://www.pcntv.com and will be aired this evening on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.
  • Keep sending me suggestions on how to increase our revenues and/or reduce our costs. I have received many good ideas and welcome more.
  • Advocate for Clarion University. The Clarion University Alumni Association is working with our student leadership to tell their stories. Anyone interested in advocating for our university should contact Brooke Murray, executive director of the alumni association. Phone 814-393-1784 or e-mail bmurray@cuf-inc.org.
  • Develop a focused and disciplined approach to our finances. The provost, vice presidents, deans, department chairs and directors are meeting and considering how we should best organize ourselves to move forward in spite of possible reductions in state funding. A committee of staff and faculty, called the Budget Review Information Committee, has been formed to review and develop detailed recommendations on how we should organize ourselves. There are a multitude of details that are being reviewed in order to do our best for the plan's launch on July 1, 2011.

Click on the "Get Connected with PASSHE" button on our site for the latest news regarding the budget and other information that affects all the PASSHE universities.

Together we have the opportunity to showcase what makes Clarion great: commitment to our students, respect for one another and support of our community and the Commonwealth.

 

 


 

 

March 21, 2011

Last week I met in Harrisburg with the other PASSHE Presidents and the Chancellor. As you can imagine, the bulk of our time together was to review and consider how best to lead our respective universities, as well as work together during our engagement with the Governor and our state elected officials. It is clear to me that we are in the middle of a political process in that the Governor has presented his position based upon promises he has made to his constituents. Our state senators and representatives are working hard to consider the Governor's position in relation to their own constituents priorities. To be sure, this is a tough time for everyone.
Let me go over with you what we know today in terms of how the Governor's proposed 50% reduction of state support to public higher education would affect Clarion University:

The Facts:

  • For Clarion University the Governor's proposal would be a state appropriation cut of 52% of the state's share of our budget, which would be a reduction of $13.2 million for 2012.
  • Over time, the state has reduced funding to Clarion University and currently funds less than one-third of the budget; the proposed state budget cut would be a 18½% reduction when all revenues are considered.
  • Clarion University has existing contractual obligations and expected increases in expenses, such as fringe benefits and utilities which total another $5½ million in additional costs
  • As a result, the Governor's proposed budget cut and the need to fund unavoidable projected cost increases currently means a $17.5-million or 21% overall budget reduction next year at Clarion University

Actions:

  • Send suggestions on how to increase our revenues and/or reduce our costs. Please send any ideas to my email at President@clarion.edu. In collaboration with the Vice Presidents and Deans we are working on a comprehensive set of possible actions to increase revenues and to reduce costs. These ideas will be analyzed as to their potential fiscal impact and then through dialogue with the campus leadership and faculty, staff and student governance we will prioritize actions. Until the legislature has approved a budget for next year we are in planning mode. After the budget is actually approved then we will move into action.
  • Advocate For Clarion University. The Alumni Association, in partnership with our student leadership, will be working with our students and alumni to tell their stories about how reductions in state support, the likelihood of significant increases in the price to students who attend Clarion University and the reduction of academic and support programs and services could affect students, alumni and the community.
  • A focused and disciplined approach to our finances. We are moving ahead with RCM (Responsibility Centered Management) and establishing a Financial Planning Model to guide us as to who makes decisions and how decisions are made regarding our budget. As promised, we will launch these efforts July 1, 2011.

We will continue to place the needs of our students, prospective students and their families as priority number one. Our actions will keep in mind their challenges and how potential decisions will impact them.

Together we have the opportunity to showcase what makes Clarion great - commitment to our students, respect for one another, and support of our community and the Commonwealth.

 

 



 

March 14, 2011

This is the first of weekly updates I will send you related to the governor's proposed budget and its impact upon Clarion University. Please know that we are at the beginning of the budget process. Much is not known at this point, but as more information is revealed, please know that I will do my best to keep you informed. I firmly believe that it is in our best interest to move forward in a civil, reasoned and informed manner that supports our historical core values and mission.

First and foremost, we will continue the Clarion tradition where we place the needs of our students, prospective students and their families as priority number one. Our actions will keep in mind their challenges and how potential decisions will impact them.

I want to emphasize that the state legislature wants to help us serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. We will work with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in a proactive way. We will use positive dialog to make our point.

Between my weekly e-mail messages to you, I encourage you to stay current by visiting the Clarion University website. A special section related to the proposed budget will be developed as part of our news section. In addition, PASSHE will provide current information as part of the PASSHE news section. A prominent "Get Connected with PASSHE" button will be added to the Clarion website, which will offer easy access to the PASSHE news site.

A great challenge has been placed before us. Together we have the opportunity to showcase what makes Clarion great - commitment to our students, respect for one another, and support of our community and the Commonwealth.

 


 

March 10, 2011

President Whitney's initial response to the proposed budget:

First and foremost, Clarion University is deeply concerned about the dramatic impact Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget could have on our students and their families. We will do everything possible to avoid disruptions in their education. We are most committed to providing quality education at an affordable cost and to creating opportunities that will ensure their success, both in their careers and in their lives.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), of which Clarion University is a part, historically has accepted the challenge of being responsible stewards of public funds. I agree with PASSHE Chancellor John Cavanaugh who said, While we cannot address the impact of the proposed budget cuts only by reducing costs, we will build on our successful record of $200 million in cost reductions during the past decade. He noted that those efforts were key to our ability to hold annual tuition increases below the rate of inflation in four of the last six years.

Our decisions will be guided by the four major strategic initiatives recently endorsed by the PASSHE Board of Governors, all of which are focused on student success measured by:

  • The quality of education we deliver;
  • The creation of the best learning environments, which includes the appropriate use of technology to expand and enhance student learning;
  • Generating sufficient resources to support our universities; and
  • Working in partnership with our communities and the Commonwealth to help create and sustain a strong economy.

We will keep you informed as we work together to solve this problem.