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March 2012 Grassroots Information Update

Penn State Grassroots Network

GRASSROOTS NETWORK INFORMATION UPDATE
Volume 10, Issue 3 / March 2012

Erickson addresses House, Senate appropriations committees
Steele: Capital Day needs you
Penn State launches new website for information


Erickson addresses House, Senate appropriations committees

Appearing before two Pennsylvania legislative panels in late February, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said that direct state support to Penn State makes it possible for Pennsylvania resident students to pay from $10,000-$12,000 less in tuition each year than out-of-state students.

Erickson addressed the Senate Appropriations Committee Feb. 29 and the House  Appropriations Committee Feb. 22. He gave opening remarks to the Senate committee and responded to questions from legislators at both committee hearings.

The tuition reduction for in-state students is part of a two-pronged approach developed by Penn State and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to make a college education affordable for children of working families, Erickson told the Senate panel.

The second part is Penn State’s 19 undergraduate campuses across the state. The regional campuses’ “multiple points of access [have] allowed generations of Pennsylvania students to afford a top-notch degree in a wide range of fields that otherwise may have been out of their reach,” Erickson said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed flat appropriations in 2012–13 for Lincoln University and a 30 percent cut each for Temple, Pitt and Penn State.

For Penn State, the proposed reduction of $64 million would drop Penn State’s general support line to less than $150 million. It is the second consecutive deep cut proposed by the governor, following a 52-percent cut mitigated by state legislators to roughly 20 percent, or $68 million, for 2011–12. In addition, a statewide budget freeze announced in early January has held back Penn State's current appropriation by an additional $11.4 million.

During the meeting, Erickson thanked the legislature for its help in restoring a significant portion of last year's proposed cuts and acknowledged the Commonwealth's current fiscal challenges.

Erickson emphasized that Penn State’s original land-grant mission—“to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes”—is as alive at Penn State now as it was in 1863.

But Erickson asked the Senate committee whether the Commonwealth still wants Penn State to pursue that mission and “whether the state is willing to continue to invest in that mission. Or does the state want us to continue to pursue the land grant mission, but in a different way? If that is the case, I would urge you to enter into a dialogue with us about changes you’d like to see at Penn State, rather than simply cutting our appropriation so severely that we’re forced to consider a future with little or no state support."

During the House committee hearing, Erickson said Penn State will continue its long-standing efforts to identify savings and efficiencies and to pass on any reduction of the proposed cut as lower tuition to Penn State students.

In the past year, Erickson said, Penn State has eliminated hundreds of jobs through layoffs and attrition, held the line on salaries for the second time in three years, and cut academic programs and merged academic departments—all while managing to keep the most recent blended tuition increase to 3.8 percent.

Last year, tuition for Commonwealth campus students increased 2.9 percent. For resident students at University Park, tuition increased 4.9 percent.


Steele: Capital Day needs you

More than 100 Penn State students and alumni have signed up for Penn State Capital Day, an event in Harrisburg April 4 that includes a rally in the Capitol rotunda and visits to state legislators’ offices in the state Capitol complex.

The main objective is for volunteers to ask legislators for support for Penn State and its annual state appropriation.

“The turnout so far is great,” said Kevin Steele, chair of the Penn State Alumni Association’s Legislative Education and Advocacy Committee. “But we need more Network volunteers and other friends of Penn State to turn out in force to make Capital Day a complete success.”

For the third consecutive year, the Penn State Grassroots Network is organizing and co-sponsoring Penn State Capital Day with three Penn State student government groups: Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG), University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), and Graduate Student Association (GSA).

Alumni and student volunteers must pre-register online to take part in Capital Day events. Detailed information about Capital Day is available at the registration site.

Direct state support for Penn State helps the University in many ways, such as providing reduced in-state tuition for Pennsylvania resident students, keeping its 19 undergraduate campuses strong, and supporting agriculture and agricultural research.


Penn State launches new website for information

Penn State has created a new "openness" website as part of its commitment to open communication with the public to the fullest extent possible.

The website has information under various categories, including frequently asked questions and messages from Penn State President Rodney Erickson and the University’s Board of Trustees. It also includes links to the Penn State budget office, right-to-know information, hotlines, and other sources.

The budget office website, for instance, includes the equivalent of 3,000 pages of Penn State budget information.

Questions about the “openness” site may be e-mailed to
L-openness@lists.psu.edu.


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