February 29, 2012

For more information contact Lauren Gutshall at 717-236-7486 x3014

HARRISBURG – Yesterday, the state Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre), held a hearing with the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to discuss Governor Corbett’s FY 2012-13 budget proposal, which cuts funding for Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities by 20 percent, or $82.5 million. Dr. Steve Hicks, president of the association representing the 6,000 faculty members and coaches at PASSHE institutions recognized the importance of the hearing.

“On behalf of my colleagues, I want to express my gratitude to Sen. Corman for giving the State System the opportunity to respond to the Governor’s proposed cuts to higher education, ” Dr. Hicks stated. “We appreciate that the Senator has taken a stand for public higher education. It was encouraging to see so many members of the Senate publicly expressed their support for the State System, which continues to provide a quality education at an affordable cost to almost 120,000 students across the state. ”

“As Chancellor Cavanaugh aptly stated, the universities that make up our State System provide more than just a quality education. Our institutions are the cultural and economic centers for their communities and our students and faculty members volunteer countless hours to improve the quality of life for local families,” Hicks noted. “But due to last year’s 18 percent reduction in state funding, our universities are already struggling, and the mission of the State System is further jeopardized by the governor’s proposed cuts.”

Dr. Francine McNairy, the president of Millersville, indicated that the university could not offer 144 class sections this year because of the budget cuts. She added that the trend would continue next year, making it increasingly difficult for students to graduate on time.

Leonard Altieri, a student from West Chester University and an appointee to the PASSHE Board of Governors, said that students are fearful about how the loss in state dollars will affect tuition. He cited a statistic that 60 percent of today’s college students have a part-time job, up from 30 percent in 2008, and that more students must work to afford the cost of college.

“It is clear that additional budget cuts could put the college dream out of reach for many Pennsylvanian students, but I am encouraged that so many Senate members recognize the value of the State System. PASSHE continues to provide accessible, affordable, ‘high quality education at the lowest possible cost to students,” Hicks said. “My colleagues and I want to work with PASSHE leaders, administrators, students, alumni, and state legislators to ensure that the State System receives the critical funding needed for Pennsylvania’s working and middle class families to continue to have access to affordable quality higher education.”