Provost urges state to boost funding
In testimony before the State House Appropriations Committee on March 2, Provost Ira M. Schwartz urged legislators to increase state funding for Temple by $10.2 million, or 6 percent, for next year, which would restore Temple’s state funding to the same level as fiscal 2002.
Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposed budget would cut state funding to Temple by $2.25 million, or 1.32 percent, for the 2005–06 fiscal year.
Schwartz told the committee that Temple seeks an increase in its state appropriation to pursue four goals: to continue to provide educational opportunities for the growing population of students who seek to learn and study at Temple; to strengthen Temple’s already large and fine professional programs; to build on Temple’s existing research base to increase the competitiveness of southeastern Pennsylvania as a center of economic activity; and to meet inflationary costs. The provost represented President David Adamany, who was unable to attend the hearing due to a long-standing commitment.
Citing the growing numbers of Pennsylvania high school graduates and the increasing proportion of those graduates who pursue higher education, Schwartz told the committee that Temple is “doing our part to address this expanding demand” by enrolling record numbers of students and developing the University into the 28th largest in the nation, while at the same time achieving an increase in the academic credentials of entering students.
But Temple’s enrollment growth, combined with decreasing state support in most recent years, has dropped state funding per full-time-equivalent student at Temple from $7,713 in fiscal 2000 to $5,993 in fiscal 2005, a reduction of more than 20 percent per student. One consequence is rising tuition levels, which have increased student debt.
“More than two-thirds of Temple students reported graduating with debt, and the average debt was over $23,000,” Schwartz testified. “This financial burden has stark consequences for our graduates.”
Temple’s programs in medicine, dentistry, podiatry, pharmacy and law enroll more than 3,100 students, making the University’s professional program the sixth largest in the United States and the fourth largest among public universities, Schwartz said.
“There are Temple physicians, dentists and lawyers in virtually every county across the state,” he added. “Without Temple’s large, high-quality professional programs, Pennsylvania would face a significant shortage of practitioners in these critical fields. These graduates of professional programs are essential to the health and well-being of Pennsylvania’s citizens.”
In addition, Temple administrators have expressed skepticism about the state’s ability to obtain federal medical funds that would more than offset the governor’s proposed decrease in state support for medical-related costs at Temple. While the University is willing to support attempts to seek federal funding, Temple is asking for assurance that appropriation lines for medical programs will be fully restored, including requested increases, if the sought-after federal funds are not forthcoming.
In arguing for an increase in state funding, Schwartz also pointed out that major metropolitan areas with extensive research prowess have at least three and as many as seven major research institutions. Philadelphia has only two, the University of Pennsylvania and Temple.
“As we look at the future of southeastern Pennsylvania, it is clear that a strong research base is essential,” Schwartz told the lawmakers. “Temple is committed to strengthening significantly its research programs, especially in medical, biomedical, pharmaceutical and chemical areas.
Our added strength in these areas will add to the economic competitiveness of the commonwealth and especially the competitiveness of the southeastern Pennsylvania region.”
Schwartz was joined by Temple’s chief financial officer, Martin S. Dorph, who described University efforts to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, including ongoing studies of Temple’s fleet management system and custodial and parking services, among other functions.
A new telecommunications contract will save the University about $1.5 million, he added.
Schwartz and Dorph were accompanied to Harrisburg by Naeem Thompson, the president of Temple Student Government and a double major in African American studies and political science, from Montgomery County, Md., and Amber Ziminsky, an honors student from Hazleton, Pa., majoring in finance.
In response to questions from the lawmakers, both students said they planned to stay in Pennsylvania upon graduating from Temple, praised the quality of their Temple education and the diversity of the campus, and encouraged the legislators to increase funding for higher education in the state as a means of attracting and retaining young people.