Erickson “Ignites” Budget Discussion During Fireside Chat
Many topics were covered Monday during President Erickson’s fireside chat, ranging from State Patty’s Day to academic prestige. However, the budget issue took center stage as Erickson and Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims took questions from about 35 students and alumni in the Hintz Family Alumni Center.
For the majority of the discussion, Erickson and Sims fielded questions and concerns about Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts, which would cut state support for Penn State by 30 percent.
The main concern over the budget cuts was the price of tuition, which would rise if the cuts were made. Erickson said, “If the state is no longer willing to provide support, the tuition will have to rise to equalize the cost.”
However, Erickson did note that Penn State will look at other areas to make cuts in order to offset raising tuition. He also commented on the role of the commonwealth campuses, and how they all affect tuition.
“The role that the Commonwealth’s appropriation plays to help keep down the price of tuition is crucial.”
Erickson admitted that state funding has always been a big reason as to why Penn State can be so diverse academically, and expressed concern over the academic diversity if Penn State suffered significant budget cuts.
“We would have to make some hard decisions,” noted Erickson.
The idea that Penn State should privatize if budget cuts were made was also brought up. Penn State would then become like Cornell and MIT, which are the only other two private land-grant universities in the United States. However, Erickson seemed against the idea considering the academic reputation had gained as a public university.
“It would change the face of Penn State,” Erickson said of Penn State becoming a private university.
Both Sims and Erickson also touched on the unity of the students following the Sandusky scandal during the fireside chat.
“The candlelight vigil is something that will stick with me always,” said Sims. “That was probably the moment I became a Penn Stater.”
Erickson was also impressed with the university’s unity. “I am just so grateful for the tremendous commitment our faculty staff and students have for keeping the university moving ahead full steam.”
When the next fireside chat has yet to be determined, but Sims did note during the meeting that another town hall meeting was likely.