A number of Temple administrators and officials including President Theobald made the roughly two-hour trip to the state capitol building in Harrisburg on Feb. 24 to answer questions in front of the state House and Senate Appropriations committees.
The topic of discussion was state funding for Temple and the three other state-related universities: Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University. Gov. Corbett announced his budget on Feb. 4 that proposed keeping Temple’s current state appropriations level at $139.9 million for the next fiscal year, a figure that was the main debate of the hearings. The Senate hearing was in the morning and the House hearing was in the afternoon.
Theobald received positive reception from legislators when he expressed a desire to keep college affordable. Theobald specifically touched on the Fly in 4 initiative, a program introduced Feb. 3 that issues 500 scholarships per grade to selected students in order to limit their outside work hours and guarantee their four year graduation.
“What you are doing with Fly in 4 will help to ensure that people will have access to a quality higher education,” said Rep. Cherelle Parker, a Philadelphia Democrat.
Another Philadelphia Democrat and Temple Law School alum, Sen. Larry Farnese, specifically asked Theobald the reason for the athletic cuts, which were announced in December and have attracted a large amount of criticism from athletes, coaches and the public.
“There have been numerous arguments put out in opposition,” Farnese said. “The advocates of keeping these programs have answered each and every rebuttal that the school has put forth…could you just tell us for the record, what is the reason for closing these programs down?”
In response, Theobald said he wanted the university to come into compliance with the federal gender-equality law, Title IX, by mirroring the gender ratio of the student body with the athletic scholarships money distribution. He said the first two options were to either add women’s swimming and diving or to raise tuition via an athletics fee, neither of which Theobald said he preferred.
“We eliminated baseball, men’s gymnastics, men’s indoor track, men’s outdoor track,” Theobald said. “And we will take those scholarships, we’re not cutting the athletic budget, we’re reallocating that to women’s field hockey, women’s lacrosse and women’s rowing so that we will be able to bring ourselves into compliance with Title IX.”
Softball is also slated to be cut by July 1. It was announced last week that Temple is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for possible Title IX compliance issues.
Ken Lawrence, senior vice president of government, community and public affairs, said an inquiry by Farnese about repetition of classes in the law school is being looked into.
The next step for the budget negotiations is to wait for the state tax revenues to come in during April and May.
Marcus McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MarcusMcCarthy6.