If you live in Pennsylvania, you’re probably aware that the governor’s proposed budget for 2011–2012 contains a reduction of more than 50 percent for IUP and the other state-owned universities.
At IUP, we had anticipated a decline in funding and had prepared various scenarios to deal with it. However, nobody expected a cut this big.
Essentially, if it takes effect, this reduction will change the character of the university as we have known it. It will change the programs and services we can offer students; it will affect their ability to graduate in four years; and it will jeopardize their ability to secure an education they can afford.
We have been good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. While the State System Board of Governors has increased tuition every year since 1998, the rate of increase has been well below the rates found at other universities. In four of the last five years, the increase has been below the rate of inflation.
If you happen to have been a student at IUP in 1983–84, about 63 percent of your education was supported by the commonwealth. By 2010–2011, that support had fallen below 34 percent. The cuts now proposed would turn the clock back to 1983 in terms of dollar amount of state appropriations—only those dollars are even fewer when adjusted for inflation, and they would have to cover 38,000 more students. According to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, this “would be the biggest one-time percentage cut to state higher-education funds in history.”
If you’re a Pennsylvania resident and you want to safeguard students and their families, please contact your state legislators. Please speak up for IUP and the State System. Your voice is needed now more than ever.
David WernerInterim President