Annual tuition increases have become a serious problem, one the Board of Trustees MUST address. Penn State has the highest in-state tuition of any public university within the Commonwealth. We are also number one with the highest in-state tuition of any school in the Big Ten. That is a number one ranking we should NOT be proud of.
Penn State's mission states: "As Pennsylvania's land-grant university, we provide
unparalleled access and public service to support the citizens of the
commonwealth." We are failing miserably
in providing "unparalleled access" to the citizens of the
Commonwealth. Working class families are finding it very difficult to
send their sons and daughters to PSU and many students are leaving PSU with
education debt in the six figures.
How do we solve this problem? There
are two ways to solve this problem, we can cut cost to lower the per-credit
tuition rate or we can raise more money to cover the cost of providing a first
The athletic department has set a
great example. The have not taken in the most money of any Big Ten school or
among the other universities that have reported their numbers but they have
operated the athletic department at a lower cost than those universities that
have taken in more money. The end result is that our athletic department is the
most profitable athletic department in the Big Ten and among all universities
that have publically reported their numbers. That is a first place position we
can be proud of!!!
I firmly believe if we scrutinize
the University budget on a line by line basis, from the budget for the Trustees
and the Office of the President on down, we will find a lot of dollars that can
be saved without jeopardizing the quality of the education we provide. As the
Army advertisement goes we need to be "lean and mean".
That is one half of the equation;
the other half is to raise more money. I believe there is a fundraising
campaign under way to raise fund to help offset tuition increases. That's a
start but there are other ways to raise money. In today's environment, many
non-profits are looking at starting for-profit business as a way of replacing
shrinking government funds. In the 1980's I was a member of an Association of Retarded
Citizens [ARC] Board that opened a Dairy Queen that served to provide operating
income for the agency and also provided employment for those we served. USA
Today recognized us as being one of first non-profits to enter into this type
With all of the brain power that
exist on our campuses from both faculty and students as well bright entrepreneurial
alumni, we should be able to be able to leverage our billions of dollars in endowments
into profit making ventures and use this money to lower tuition rates. Again as
I mentioned in an earlier blog, the Board should create a Task Force that would
tackle and solve this problem.
Penn State has one of the most recognized brands in the county;
we need to make use of that brand. When I was President of the Student
Government, we fought the University to open a book store on campus. We were
opposed by the University because of some agreement they were suppose to have
with the town. We finally opened the first used book store on campus in the HUB
and now there is a great bookstore on campus. PSU owns a lot of real estate,
has some of the best agricultural experts in the country [Penn State grass
seed], a renowned School of Business, Penn State Ice Cream, I could go on.
There is no doubt in my mind that we can come up with new and innovative ways
to make money to lower tuition cost.