Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Chancellor John C. Cavanaugh today announced 128 positions at the 14 PASSHE universities and in the Office of the Chancellor will not be filled during the current fiscal year. The salaries of all non-union employees also will be frozen for at least six months.The steps are being taken in response to worsening economic conditions facing the Commonwealth, and to help ensure PASSHE’s 2008-2009 budget remains balanced during these difficult fiscal times. The universities will retain the ability to fill critical vacancies.
“This action is necessary in light of current economic conditions facing both PASSHE and the Commonwealth,” Dr. Cavanaugh said. “Our first priority is to ensure our students continue to receive the high-quality education they expect and deserve. The universities still will be able to employ additional faculty in order to meet student needs in the classroom and to fill some other critical positions.”
PASSHE’s Board of Governors in October agreed to a request by Governor Edward G. Rendell to return $22 million of the state funding the State System expected to receive this year. Those returned funds would help the Commonwealth address an expected $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the current fiscal year. The $22 million is equal to 4.25 percent of the nearly $520 million PASSHE expected to receive as part of the 2008-2009 state budget.
The Board of Governors will hold a budget workshop in conjunction with its regular January meeting to further review PASSHE’s fiscal situation.
The salary freeze will affect approximately 1,500 managers, administrators and other non-union employees across the State System. Increases for PASSHE’s non-union employees are based on merit only and are authorized annually by the Board of Governors.
The PASSHE universities and Office of the Chancellor will have to make additional budget cuts in order to account for the $22 million reduction in state funding this year. Next year’s appropriation level will not be determined until at least June, with the passage of the 2009-2010 Commonwealth budget.
State funding supports about one-third of PASSHE’s annual operating budget. Student tuition and fees provide most of the rest. While the level of state funding has declined significantly as a percentage of the PASSHE budget over the last two decades, the System has been able to control tuition growth-especially over the last five years-through a variety of cost-containment efforts, all designed to help the universities become more efficient without impacting the quality of education students receive.
These efforts included an earlier salary and wage freeze that affected all PASSHE employees in 2003-2004. Cost savings also have been realized through the joint purchasing of goods and services, implementation of a variety of energy conservation initiatives and the aggressive management of healthcare costs, which has included requiring employees to pay a portion of their healthcare premiums. Some of the savings that have been achieved have been re-allocated to high-priority programs in areas such as science, technology and healthcare to better serve students’ needs and those of the Commonwealth.
As a result of these and other efforts, PASSHE in each of the last four years has held tuition increases below the inflation rate-averaging 2.9 percent-a record no other public university system in the nation can match. Annual tuition increases typically have been anywhere from one-half to one-third the national average at other four-year public colleges and universities.
Over the last five years PASSHE’s overall tuition and required fee increases have been the lowest among all public college and university systems in the United States, according to a study by the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board. A separate report issued this fall by the College Board indicates that the average total cost of attending a PASSHE university-including tuition, required fees, room and board-is $539 below the national average and $2,459 below the average charged by other four-year public colleges and universities in the Middle Atlantic region of the United States.
Now in its 25th year, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with more than 112,500 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. Approximately 405,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.
Kenn Marshall is Media Relations Manager to the Pennslvania State System of Higher Education. He can be reached at email@example.com.