Penn State President, Pitt Chancellor Call Football Truce To Write Column On State Appropriations

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Penn State President Eric Barron and Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher joined forces this week to write a column encouraging Pennsylvania state legislators to pass funding for state-related schools appropriations. The column was published in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and online.

“On Saturday, more than 100,000 fans dressed in telling shades of blue, gold and white will fill Beaver Stadium to watch Pitt and Penn State football teams take the field,” the pair wrote. “Yet, away from the football field, our universities intersect in a very different way: We play on the same team, working to advance like-minded missions.”

The column asks legislators to pass pending appropriation bills when the House returns to Harrisburg on Monday, September 11. These appropriations will fund Pennsylvania’s state-related universities, including both Penn State and Pitt.

“In our view — regardless of what happens between the end zones this weekend — the off-field victor is clear: With Penn State and Pitt, Pennsylvania always wins.”

You can read the full column below:

On Saturday, more than 100,000 fans dressed in telling shades of blue, gold and white will fill Beaver Stadium to watch Pitt and Penn State football teams take the field.

This tradition, which has simmered for more than a century, is fueled by intense competition and equally intense emotions. It is a game where spectators take sides — and the winning team earns a year of prized bragging rights in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Yet, away from the football field, our universities intersect in a very different way: We play on the same team, working to advance like-minded missions.

As institutions of public higher education, we educate tomorrow’s leaders and create knowledge through cutting-edge research. We also are proud community partners and proven drivers of economic gain.

Consider the numbers:

  • Nearly 80,000 Pennsylvania students gain world-class educations at our universities each year;
  • More than 50,000 Pennsylvanians work for our institutions to earn a living and support their families;
  • Our public mission, and the public funds we receive, enable us to offer in-state tuition rates that save Pennsylvania families more than $700 million annually;
  • And our economic impact — in Pennsylvania alone — exceeds $12 billion.

These statistics are part of a vast body of evidence that confirms Penn State and Pitt as powerful engines of opportunity and economic development. Yet, despite serving in such critical roles, state support for our institutions is in jeopardy — the direct consequence of a protracted budget impasse in Harrisburg.

Just two months ago, the call to fund our institutions — and continue a longstanding tradition of investing in state-related universities — garnered overwhelming bipartisan support when the state spending plan was passed. Nonetheless, members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have yet to act on the stand-alone appropriation bills that fund Pitt, Penn State and our state-related sister institutions — Temple and Lincoln.

These bills provide funding levels on par with the state’s commitments in 1998 — not adjusted for inflation. Yet, they are essential for enabling our universities to continue offering Pennsylvania students a top-quality public education at a deep discount. Without House approval of these funds, Pitt and Penn State face a combined deficit of at least $400 million — a budget gap so severe, it will not spare our students, families, employees or local communities.

When the House returns to Harrisburg on Monday, Sept. 11, our elected officials can take immediate action to pass the pending appropriation bills that will fund Pennsylvania’s state-related universities. In doing so, they will be making the right call for our Commonwealth families. That’s because, in our view — regardless of what happens between the end zones this weekend — the off-field victor is clear: With Penn State and Pitt, Pennsylvania always wins.

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Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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