Monday, July 25, 2011

What the new PA budget means to us

It is no understatement to say our faculty, staff and, especially, our students closely followed this year’s budget discussions after the proposed 50 percent cut to our allocation.

Fortunately, the budget enacted on June 30 contained a smaller cut (18%) than first suggested; however, it still impacts our institution and our students as we face a reduction of $90 million in state and federal funding for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, equal to about $802 per full-time student.

Many times during the lengthy budget process, PASSHE Chancellor John Cavanaugh and I pledged we would not ask our students and their families to bear the entire burden of a reduction in state funding. Consequently, the PASSHE Board of Governors approved a tuition increase of $436 for 2011-2012.

Although this is a larger increase than in recent years, our annual tuition remains among the lowest of all four-year colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and well below the national average among all public institutions.

I am extremely pleased to say our institution will continue to operate with a balanced budget in 2011-2012, in spite of this year’s decreased allocation.
Bloomsburg University has a long history of fiscal responsibility upon which to build as we assess how we may decrease our costs while seeking alternative sources of revenue.

Strong stewardship of public funding and private donations, coupled with sound business practices, means we will continue to move forward with the priorities established by our strategic plan, Impact 2015: Building on the Past, Leading for the Future:

  • Enhancing academic excellence

  • Achieving excellence while ensuring financial sustainability

  • Designing an enrollment vision in terms of demand, program mix and capacity

  • Fostering and developing a strong sense of community

If you have not read our strategic plan recently, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with Impact 2015.

In this era of steadily declining fiscal support for public higher education we have to make difficult fiscal decisions about the programs and services that we offer. In line with our strategic plan, we will move forward with our innovative general education model developed through the collaborative efforts of faculty and staff.

The model, which melds academic and co-curricular opportunities to achieve a set of comprehensive and challenging learning outcome designed to “prepare students for personal and professional success in an increasingly complex global environment," is on track to launch in fall 2012.

We are committed to combining operational efficiencies with identifying and raising the funding necessary to support high quality academic programs and student support services across campus that enable our students to earn their college degrees regardless of their family’s financial picture.

This academic year the entire Bloomsburg community must work together to continue to implement our strategic plan in light of the realities of the “new normal” for public higher education. As we confront budgetary challenges, it is important to remain focused on the lifetime value a Bloomsburg University education provides to our students and their families, the region, the commonwealth and the global community.

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