The PASSHE Board of Governors met on Wednesday, April 4, and Thursday, April 5, for its quarterly board meeting. State APSCUF president Steve Hicks made a brief statement during the public comment period about the impact of the governor’s proposed budget cuts on students. He implored the board to act in the best interests of students and to boldly lead the state system into the future. “In January, I implored you to not comply with the Governor’s rescission of 5 percent of the PASSHE state appropriation that was announced in January. I don’t think you have yet voted on this, so I will reiterate: it would be damaging on top of last year’s $90 million cut to our appropriation, and more so if we end up with anything like the $82 million cut currently on the table for 12-13. And, also, let me urge you to tell CFOs to spend that money, as students need handouts in classes as we near finals, they need academic support to help them return, and universities need to purchase those day-to-day items that make them run efficiently and professionally.
Since you last met here, you all know the Governor has announced 20% cut for PASSHE. Saying “again” is…redundant? We have worked already to turn that number into something smaller — a lot like a zero seems workable from where I stand. As mentioned already, we have spent time in legislative offices lobbying and we’ll do more. We held a student rally on the Capitol steps last week, with a handful of legislators and many students speaking, and there have been rallies on almost every campus across the state. Again this year the media coverage has been extensive and positive.
We could not stand quietly by this year and let this happen. We plan on working on this legislation until it’s on its way to the Governor’s desk. And any cut is damaging, devastating and potentially catastrophic.
We should all be worried that our mission and the stories it provides to show our success is in jeopardy here. We need to keep telling our story. Mr. Altieri has just given us example of that kind of story about a first generation student, that is our staple, and the success we can help them find. But his story is on the verge of becoming history: with the cuts the Governor has proposed, and may continue to propose, including cuts to PHEAA, and the tuition increase of last summer and another of some sort the likely end of any 20% cut this year, first-generation college students across the Commonwealth will no longer be able attend our institutions. We need to tell the stories that are so like Mr. Altieri’s, and we need to tell legislators, parents, voters, and the media over and over that the Commonwealth is NOT better off if that opportunity disappears.
On the theme of opportunity, we need to keep what was said about Cheyney at your last Board meeting in mind. The problems there haven’t been resolved in less than three months, although we’ve been working on them; we all need to keep some attention there.
It seems these days our attention is needed many places, on the Hill, across the campuses, and at Cheyney. Tough times, they say, bring out tough leaders. Let’s lead in a direction to make sure we have a system with continued access and opportunity for future students.”
The Board also selected new presidents for two universities: Dr. Marcia G. Welsh will succeed Dr. Robert Dillman at East Stroudsburg University and Dr. Cheryl Joy Norton will take the helm at Slippery Rock University. PASSHE issued a press release on the selection of the new presidents.