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Administrators Planning for ‘Unthinkable Possibility’ of No State Appropriation

It’s no secret that Pennsylvania is struggling through a historic budget impasse that started way back in July.

And while many sectors are facing hardships as a result of the budget situation, there may be none in quite as bad shape as education.

A pair of Penn State administrators penned a letter addressed to the university community on Monday explaining how they’re dealing with the budget impasse.

Executive vice president and provost Nicholas Jones and senior vice president for finance and business David Gray said that the university is facing a $300 million budget shortfall for 2015-16, ‘the majority of which is used to lower tuition for Pennsylvania residents and to fund agricultural research and extension operations that have a profound impact on the Commonwealth’s largest industry.’

The letter begins by emphasizing just how dire the situation is, stating that ‘the significance of this concern cannot be underscored enough.’ Jones and Gray wrote that Penn State’s impact in Pennsylvania and around the world is largely thanks to support from the state.

Our very mission is to serve the Commonwealth,’ they said. ‘Our partnership is enduring and has borne fruit for all Pennsylvanians even in the most challenging times.’

Jones and Gray also want the university community to know that if the ‘unthinkable possibility’ of no state appropriation from Commonwealth, they are planning to navigate that uncharted territory.

Some of the steps being taken include eliminating business travel unless absolutely necessary, curtailing any expenditures possible throughout the university, and setting aside ‘uncommitted general fund resources’ into a reserve.

Though these actions will not come close to solving the full budget shortfall, they will help, and assist us to both assess potential impacts as well as inform our decision making should a major rescission be necessary,’ the letter said.

Jones and Gray also called on governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania legislature to take action and pass a budget. They vowed to engage in ‘aggressive advocacy’ over the coming weeks along with other state-related higher education institutions.

‘We believe it is unprecedented for a state not to fund its top public research universities, and in our advocacy we will continue to remind legislators of the vital role we play in education and advances that drive our economy and improve our society’s quality of life,’ they said.

You can read the full letter on Penn State News here.