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April 2011 Grassroots Information Update


Volume 9, Issue 4 / April 2011

More than 400 volunteers take part in Capital Day

More than 400 alumni, students, and friends of Penn State—easily more than two and one-half times last year's attendance—traveled to Harrisburg April 5 to take part in Penn State Capital Day. The annual event includes visits to state legislators and a rally in the Capitol rotunda for continued state support for the University.

Volunteers asked legislators to "put the state back in Penn State" by restoring state funding at a level that will allow the University to maintain its in-state tuition rate for Pennsylvania resident students and its 24 locations across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The rally opened up with an appearance by the Nittany Lion mascot and fight songs played by six Blue Band members, followed by remarks from Penn State Alumni Association President Barry Simpson '69 and three student government leaders.

“Let your legislative legacy be the preservation of a quality and affordable education,” Simpson told legislators in the rotunda. “Let your legacy be that you did what was good and right for Pennsylvania college students.”

Throughout the day, teams of volunteers made about 90 prescheduled visits to state legislators, and each of the 253 legislative offices received an information packet about support for Penn State.

With representatives of Pitt, Temple, and community colleges also in the Capitol building the same day, along with other education advocates, media attention was heavy.

An Associated Press story on Capital Day was picked up by many newspapers in Pennsylvania and as far away as the Beaumont Enterprise in Texas, and even Forbes magazine and a newspaper in Australia. Among the many other media outlets running stories on Capital Day were WFMZ-TV in Allentown and the Penn Stater magazine blog.

Network volunteers helping keep the "state" in Penn State

Since January 2011, the Penn State Grassroots Network has added more than 4,200 new volunteer members, including alumni, students, and parents.

During the same period, the Network has also helped more than 700 individual advocates for Penn State send a total of nearly 1,400 messages to the governor, state legislators, and other elected officials.

Gov. Tom Corbett's budget proposal, announced March 8, would slash Penn State's state budget appropriation from about $347 million to about $165 million—a cut of more than 50 percent.

In response, Network volunteers have been asking elected officials to restore state funding at a level that will allow Penn State to maintain its in-state tuition rate for Pennsylvania resident students and its 24 campuses across the state.

Recently, a column by Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, and a newspaper op-ed piece by Rodney Erickson, Penn State's executive vice president and provost, have shared related messages with Penn Staters and the general public, including:

  • Penn State shoulders many missions for the Commonwealth, and for nearly 150 years the Commonwealth has shown its faith in the University by providing funding that supports those missions.
  • Penn State leverages state appropriation dollars to provide an in-state tuition rate for Pennsylvania resident students that's about half what an out-of-state student pays.
  • The state appropriation also helps Penn State make huge contributions to the Commonwealth's economic vitality and quality of life. Penn State generates more than $17 billion a year in overall economic impact. Every dollar invested in Penn State by the Commonwealth returns more than $25 in total economic impact to the state.
  • Penn State is “absolutely willing” to take its fair share of the cuts. But the state is cutting its overall budget by only 3.5 percent, while Penn State has been asked to take a 52.3 percent cut.
  • Penn State provides a world-class education to 96,000 students, conducts $780 million in research supported mainly from sources outside the state, touches one out of every two Pennsylvanians through its outreach work, and provides solutions and discoveries that help society solve some of its most pressing problems.
  • Penn State's appropriation today is the same as it was in 2000. For 10 years Penn State has operated with flat state funding, while at the same time its enrollment grew by 14,000 students. During that same time period, the state increased its budget by 41 percent.

Anyone who wants to support Penn State—even those who are not subscribed Network members—can do so by visiting the Grassroots Network website and responding to action alerts on the site.

Legislative directories available

Legislative directories for 2011 are available to subscribed members of the Penn State Grassroots Network and others interested in serving as advocates for Penn State.

The directories can help Network volunteers and others be more effective advocates for Penn State. They provide key information about elected officials in Pennsylvania, including:

  • contact information for state and federal officials;
  • committee assignments for state legislators and members of the U.S. Congress from Pennsylvania;
  • names, parties, districts, and graduation years of Penn State alumni in the state legislature and Congress.
  • maps of state and federal legislative districts.
  • contact information for key staff members in the governor's and lieutenant governor's offices.

To request a copy of the legislative directory, e-mail the Network at

Overhauled Network website launched

A redesigned Penn State Grassroots Network website was launched in recent weeks. The new site is designed to make it easier for alumni and friends to find the information they need.

The overhauled website includes more photos, new typefaces, more links, and a new section called “Breaking News.”

The website's home page also includes links to the Network's Facebook and Twitter sites.

From the Alumni Association home page, there are a couple of ways to reach the Grassroots Network pages:

  • Under the “How Do I?” section, click on “Help/Volunteer” and then the Grassroots Network links under the “Advocate for Penn State” heading.
  • From the lower right-hand column, click on the blue, white, and green Grassroots Network logo.
  • offer a wide array of educational programs, especially science and technology programs often not available at other Pennsylvania schools.

The state’s investment in Penn State also helps ensure the continued high quality of a Penn State education and the value of a Penn State degree, and helps boost the state economy.

Penn State also runs a wide-ranging research program that uses mostly out-of-state money, creates new knowledge, and supports thousands of jobs across the state.

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