Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Connor McKay of Professor John-Erik Koslosky’s Newswriting course and was edited by John Carroll of Koslosky’s Editing for Journalism course.
In an effort to improve the ever-expanding university, the 2017-2018 Education and General (E&G) Budget has increased spending for the high quality faculty and staff as well as the condition of the university.
In an interview with the Assistant Vice President of Finance, Budget, and Business Services Claudia Thrush, she explained that the majority of the spending increases are occurring in two areas; compensation and services & supplies.
The budget of $150,704, 829, was approved by the Council of Trustees on Sept. 20.
Its increased size should lead to improvement of the university, particularly with strategic use of carryforward funds, strategic enrollment management action plan initiatives, and the implementation of institutional scholarship programs approved by the Council of Trustees.
In explaining the University’s resources, Thrush said, “The majority of revenues come from tuition and fees billed to students and state appropriation.”
The first area of increased spending is in compensation for the faculty and staff.
Comparing last year’s total of $107,462,718 to a projected $112,591,621 this year, results in a $5.1 million increase. The increase is primarily attributed to contractual salary increases and the Board of Governors’ approved merit increase for non-represented employees coupled with increased cost rates for healthcare and retirement benefits.
Improving general quality of the university is the next increased area of spending for the current budget.
The subtotal of the 2016-2017 budget spent on services and supplies was $27,136,559. An increase in this year’s budget to $31,857,486 shows growing institutional scholarships, operational costs, strategic enrollment management initiatives, and planned use of carryforward funds.
The largest portion of the E&G budget is compensation. Highly qualified faculty and staff, work together to provide instruction and academic support combined with student services with the primary goal being student success.
A challenging aspect facing this year’s budget includes retention and new enrollment.
Providing the resources necessary to help students reach graduation and either continue their education or secure employment is of top importance to the university.
The high number of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania causes competition for new-student enrollment and the university is always looking to find and serve new students beyond the primary 18-22 year olds that currently attend.
The university currently offers a new merit based institutional scholarship to incoming in-state students. The “Academic Success Scholarship,” is offered to accomplished applicants and aims to help with student quality and retention.
According to Mrs. Thrush, “the budget is a financial picture of institutional priorities. The university is committed to providing students with highly-qualified staff faculty, and the resources needed to ensure student success. We also pride ourselves on maintaining an aesthetically pleasing campus that is comfortable, safe, and feels like home for our students.”