Adamany lobbies state for funding
President David Adamany appeared before the Pennsylvania House appropriation committee Feb. 23, where he urged lawmakers to increase state funding for higher education. Joining Adamany were Oscar Chow, a senior political science major who is president of Temple Student Government, and Sara Getz, an honors student in political science.
In his final appearances before the Pennsylvania House and Senate appropriations committees, President David Adamany urged lawmakers to increase state funding for higher education.
“As Pennsylvania continues its transition from a manufacturing to a service economy. … Low support for public higher education can have a negative effect on Pennsylvania’s workforce development and community revitalization plans,” he said in prepared remarks.
“Temple students, the vast majority of whom remain in Pennsylvania after completing their studies, leave the University with the skills to start and lead businesses, provide important medical, legal, educational and social services, and serve as good citizens and family members who can contribute to the continued revitalization of the rural, suburban and urban communities across our state.”
Adamany, who will retire from Temple’s presidency on June 30, appeared before the House Appropriations Committee on Feb. 23 and as of press time was scheduled to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Feb. 28, the latter alongside the leaders of the other three state-related universities: Graham Spanier of Penn State University, Mark Nordenberg of the University of Pittsburgh, and Ivory Nelson of Lincoln University.
Adamany noted that Pennsylvania ranks 43rd nationally in higher education spending per capita, with an appropriation that is 38.8 percent below the national average. To reach the national average, he said, Pennsylvania would need to increase its higher education budget by $720 million. At Temple, today’s state funding per student ($6,108) is 21 percent below the state’s appropriation per student six years ago ($7,713).
“Low levels of support for public institutions of higher learning correlate with higher tuition levels at these institutions,” Adamany said. “As you know, high tuition levels increase the debt burden on graduating students and impact their choice of careers, their decisions about when to marry, when to have children, and when to buy homes.
The University is seeking a state appropriation of $186.7 million for next year, or a 6 percent increase over current funding. Gov. Edward G. Rendell has proposed state funding to Temple of $183 million, or a 3.9 percent increase over amounts appropriated for the current fiscal year.
In his testimony, Temple’s eighth president reviewed the University’s remarkable growth during recent years of flat or reduced state funding, including record-high undergraduate applications and enrollment, an average new-student SAT score 70 points above the national average, and growing numbers of students attracted to Temple from across Pennsylvania and from other states.
“Temple has achieved this enrollment growth without compromising its commitment to academic excellence” and while sustaining its commitment to a diverse campus population, Adamany told the lawmakers. “For years, Temple has been known as one of the most diverse educational institutions in the nation. Many students at Temple refer to our school as ‘Diversity University.’ Nearly one-third of students on Temple’s Main Campus report themselves to be persons of color.
“We know from surveying our students that they are selecting Temple for many reasons,” Adamany added. “Today’s generation is attracted to urban culture, and our location in Philadelphia is attractive to them. The breadth and strength of our curriculum and teaching program are also a draw. Diversity in our student body consistently shows up in student surveys as one of our strong points.”
The publication Diverse – Issues in Higher Education ranks Temple fifth in the nation in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans and a Princeton Review ranking listed Temple as the second-most-diverse school in the United States, he pointed out.
Because of strong enrollment growth and a projected surge of faculty retirements in the decade ahead (more than half of Temple’s faculty members are over the age of 56), Temple has recruited 142 new tenured and tenure-track faculty over the past three years and has authorized 86 additional searches, Adamany told the legislators. Nearly one-third of the faculty members recruited have been women and members of underrepresented ethnic groups, and “we know that we must continue to work diligently to further diversify our faculty and to provide role models to our student body,” he said.
The demand for higher education in Pennsylvania will continue to grow, Adamany said, because “there are more 18-year-olds in the commonwealth and in the nation than ever in our history. And college education is more important to them and more essential to our society’s future than it has ever been.
“Pennsylvania, which once lagged the nation in the college-going rate of its high school graduates, now exceeds the national average,” Adamany said. “This is a very good sign for the commonwealth’s future. But, quite frankly, some public officials and the citizens at large have not connected the dots: There has been no effort to provide funding that is related to or commensurate with the greatest wave of college-bound students in Pennsylvania’s and the nation’s history.
“Although I will no longer appear annually to make this appeal, I hope that others, including some members of this committee who have been so devoted to higher education, will pick up this banner until the commonwealth takes steps to secure the educational future of this largest college-bound generation in our history and whose education must prepare them to secure the future of our democracy, our economy and our society.”
Several lawmakers lauded Adamany for his leadership as Temple’s president, citing among other achievements the University’s ability to enhance its quality while sustaining its diversity and Temple’s Partnership Schools Program, which supports improvements in four public elementary schools near the Main Campus. Said Rep. Josh Shaprio, a Montgomery County Democrat: “I have enjoyed watching you take Temple to that next level.”
Adamany was accompanied at the hearings by Oscar Chow, a senior political science major from Philadelphia who is president of Temple Student Government. They also were joined at the House hearing by Sara Getz, an honors student in political science from Scranton, Pa., and at the Senate Hearing by Amy Dahan of Cheltenham, Pa., an Honors student double-majoring in marketing and international business.
- By Mark Eyerly