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Published: September 28, 2013 print this article Print save this article Save email this article Email ENLARGE TEXT increase font decrease font

PASSHE underfunded

Slippery Rock University President Cheryl Norton said at her state of the university address that we are experiencing the perfect financial storm (SRU president talks deficit,” Sept. 13).
This “most challenging of financial times” will result in a devastating impact for Slippery Rock, since this storm involves more than belt-tightening, which has already led us to reduce our waist sizes from a lean 34” belt to a 30” belt, since we have been on a starvation diet for years.
This storm has led to the possibility of faculty retrenchment (firing). This harms students, faculty and the reputation of Slippery Rock.
President Norton informed the university community that this perfect financial storm is the result of three fronts “colliding to create the budget situation: flat state funding with the potential for minimal or no tuition increases; declining enrollment due to demographic trends; and increased expenses and rising personnel costs.”
Even if these three events are occurring simultaneously, I would argue that there is only one storm, which the president explained in her speech. She said, “while we are grateful for the support we receive from the state, it is a fact that our appropriation per FTE (full-time equivalent, what Harrisburg calls students) has been reduced by almost 50 percent since 1997-98, from $7,100 to $3,200 in 2012-13.”
I am not feeling that grateful. If our legislators did not reduce our funding, there might be a light drizzle, but no storm.
In a time when people are complaining about the cost of higher education, the Pennsylvania State Systemof Higher Education-State University System is a bargain for more than 100,000 students.
I believe our legislators should help make high quality education taught by professors in the classrooms affordable. An educated population benefits the commonwealth. Making education affordable through increasing funding turns students into better citizens.
Private higher education is out of reach financially for many. If our legislators are truly concerned about their constituents, then they should make public higher education affordable, while keeping the quality at a high level.

Richard Findler
Professor of philosophy
Slippery Rock University
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