Pa. freezes funding to university

JACOB COLON TTN Students rallied in Harrisburg last February for funding to higher education. A similar rally will take place Jan. 31.

Low state revenues leave 5 percent of Temple’s funding in question.

In light of disappointing state revenue, Temple is facing another cut in state funding.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Revenue Daniel Meuser reported on Jan. 3 that the Commonwealth “General Fund collections total $11.6 billion, which is $486.8 million, or four percent” less than expected. Gov.Tom Corbett’s office anticipated $12.1 billion in revenue halfway through the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to the department.

Keeping to state requirements for a balanced budget, the shortfall resulted in a nearly $160 million state spending freeze from Gov. Corbett’s Budget Office.

Temple saw an estimated 5 percent reduction in state funding, equal to about $7 million.

The freeze will remain in place “until revenue collections improve,” Corbett said in a news release on Jan. 4.

“We have to look at how can we best structure and restructure parts of the university,” Provost Richard Englert said.

Across Temple, financial aid, advising, counseling, security and public safety will not be affected, university communications announced. The university will implement some of the tactics used in response to last year’s budget problems, including hiring freezes, salary freezes for non-union employees and travel restrictions.

“We have a large university. We have lots of reasons for people to travel,” Englert said. “When somebody has the need to travel…that person first sends it to their dean, then I review it. And I have to decide whether it’s something we can support.”

Englert’s office will combine certain positions in response to hiring freezes. Englert declined to specify which positions within the Provost’s Office will be combined.

“I’m not going to say [reductions] are easy to do,” Englert said.

The provost has met with faculty leadership of the various schools and colleges in light of the funding freeze.

Englert cited student graduation timeliness as a strong concern among faculty. The provost will examine at what times and when classes are offered, and will work to ensure that required courses are offered before electives.

“We’re constantly talking, literally every day,” Englert said.

“If the question is ‘Is this a surprise?’ no, this is what [the state does],” said Ken Lawrence, Jr, senior vice president for government, community and public affairs.

Lawrence is also the Temple administration liaison for the Pennsylvania Association of State-related Students. PASS brings together student representatives Lincoln University, Penn State University, University of Pittsburg and Temple to advocate for higher education funding from the Commonwealth. Temple Study Government Vice President of External Affairs Elliot Griffin is currently the PASS executive director.

TSG officers had two conference calls with PASS members since the end of the Fall 2011 semester, and will travel to Lincoln on Jan. 20 for their semester conference.

TSG Student Body President Colin Saltry said that before the group’s Jan. 31 rally in Harrisburg, TSG will host a PASS pep rally in the Student Center atrium on Jan. 24, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Corbett will make his budget address for the 2012-13 fiscal year on Feb. 7.

Amelia Brust can be reached at

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