Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Commonwealth appropriation for Temple still not approved

Four months after the constitutional deadline for the state budget, and six weeks after a budget deal gave most state agencies the funds they need to operate, Temple University and the three other state-related universities still do not have a resolution to their state appropriations.

In an appeal to the governor and state elected leaders, the presidents of the four state-related institutions said approval of the appropriations is needed and soon.

The longer this process goes on, the greater the stress it places on Temple's finances. It also creates uncertainty for our students and their families,...In a time of economic hardship, approving the appropriation means that tuition rates for the spring can be assured.

The Oct. 21 letter is signed by Temple President Ann Weaver Hart, Lincoln University President Ivory Nelson, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Penn State University Chancellor Graham Spanier.

“While the protracted budget delay has imposed difficulty and hardship on many throughout the state, extending that delay is perpetuating the financial consequences and uncertainty for the state-related universities, our students and their families,” wrote the four university leaders. “It is our understanding that there are sufficient funds in the enacted budget to pass the appropriation bills for the state-related universities.”

Noting that fall tuition rates were set with the good-faith belief that the Commonwealth appropriations would soon be sent to the state-related schools, the presidents wrote that the time was swiftly approaching when tuition rates for the spring semester would have to be set.

“In order to maintain the low tuition increases at our universities, there needs to be assurance that the funding levels in our pending appropriation bills will be enacted soon,” the presidents wrote.

Taken together, the four schools have more than 158,000 Pennsylvania students.

The letter comes as Temple is feeling the impact of the uncertainty that comes with inaction on the appropriation, said Senior Vice President Kenneth Lawrence Jr.

“The longer this process goes on, the greater the stress it places on Temple's finances. It also creates uncertainty for our students and their families,” said Lawrence. “In a time of economic hardship, approving the appropriation means that tuition rates for the spring can be assured.”

That sentiment was echoed by the presidents in their letter: “We respectfully request that all reasonable and appropriate measures be taken to finalize the budget and the appropriations of Pennsylvania's state-related universities in order to minimize the financial harm and uncertainty impacting our students and their families.”

The next opportunity for taking action would come when the state General Assembly meets Nov. 9. The Commonwealth appropriation could mean $180 million for Temple.

Last spring, Temple enacted a budget that kept tuition at 2.9 percent, the lowest increase in 13 years. The university's trustee's met again just before the beginning of the fall semester and said they would not raise tuition at the time, but might need to revisit the fall and spring tuition decision if the state appropriation was not approved. If the appropriation was not approved, there would need to be university-wide cuts, in addition to any tuition action.

Earlier this year, more than 9,000 students, employees, alumni and friends showed their support for Temple by signing the “Fight for the Cherry and White” petition. The petition remains a powerful means of letting elected leaders know that Temple needs its appropriation. To sign the petition, visit the link on this page.

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