President Ann Weaver Hart attended the second Temple Student Government State of the Campus address yesterday.
She discussed the cost of tuition, the university’s approaching 125th anniversary, construction completion, union negotiations, the new academic plan and the campus master plan.
The main focus of the question-and-answer period and Hart’s introduction was about the financial planning initiative and the tuition task force.
“Right now, we’re feeling the economy really hard,” Hart said when asked about how the current economic conditions will affect tuition.
Hart said the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania told public universities to plan on a 4.25 percent return on what they were given for budgeting. Temple cut the 2 percent supplies fund in order to address this rescind. Temple has also enforced a controlled hiring freeze to prevent the potential cutbacks if hiring were to continue at a constant rate. The university has put an out-of-state travel freeze on employees as well. This deals with employees who use university funds to travel for conferences.
The freeze affects all levels of Temple’s employees, from students to Hart herself. Hart said she wants to minimize the effects this budget change could have on academic services.
“We are all struggling, and we are trying to stay on top,” she said.
One student asked if it was possible for Temple to put a cap on tuition so it does not exceed a certain amount. Given the current state of the economy, Hart said a complete cap on tuition was not possible, but the Board of Trustees is working on flattening the tuition increase so it is not as high as that of other universities. The tuition task force will work to keep tuition increase as low as possible.
Despite the increases in tuition, the student body is still growing. Including the student population at Temple University Japan, the student body has reached more than 32,000, Hart said. She added Temple is trying to become more welcoming to non-traditional students, especially veterans who intend to utilize the provisions in the GI Bill.
“I encourage you to embrace your fellow and sister non-traditional students,” Hart said. She emphasized the point when she discussed her own experience as a non-traditional student attending graduate school while raising four children.
Alex Barnett, a Fox School of Business senator, asked why Temple continued to accept more students than it had room and services to accommodate. Hart said Temple has actually decreased the acceptance rate and that the increase comes from the Japan campus.
She added Temple is working towards increasing the retention rate, while lowering the admission rate to keep the student population size stable.
“We are working hard to keep student enrollment flat,” Hart said.
“We are reaching a major turning point,” Hart said, referring to Temple’s 125th anniversary in 2009. “It is a wonderful time to celebrate this university.”
Rebecca Hale can be reached at email@example.com.