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Trustees Approve Increased Tuition, $5.1 Billion Operating Budget

Penn State’s Board of Trustees met in Wilkes-Barre this afternoon for it’s bimonthly meeting and annual summer trip to a Commonwealth campus.

The big item on the agenda was the approval of the 2016-17 university operating budget and annual tuition schedule. At committee meetings yesterday, the committee on Finance, Business, and Capital Planning recommended a budget of $5,141,704,000, an increase from the 2015-16 operating budget of $4.9 billion.

The committee also recommended a tuition increase. President Barron presented the same slideshow that was shown during yesterday’s committee meeting outlining both the budget and the tuition schedule. Barron highlighted a 1.76 percent increase overall and 2.29 percent increase for in-state, University Park students, which comes out to $190 per semester. Out-of-staters at University Park will see a 3.39 percent increase.

There wasn’t much opposition to the tuition increase at its initial committee recommendation, with alumni trustee Bill Oldsey the only one to vote against the raise. When the number was brought to the full Board floor, however, there was a little more discussion and friction.

“Unless we find a way to increase revenues, we are going to continue to raise tuition on the backs of Pennsylvania residents, and I have a serious concern about doing that,” alumni trustee Rob Tribeck said. “I know we are working as hard as we can to avoid it.”

Tribeck went on to ask that the Board continue to work to advocate for appropriations from the state and to support Barron in his efforts to provide an affordable education for students across the Commonwealth. Alumni-elected trustee Ted Brown spoke up against the increase as well.

“I just am not comfortable with supporting an in-state tuition increase of any amount,” he said. “This will be the fourth time in a row that I have opposed it, but I would like to congratulate all of us, ourselves, that we are sometimes called a dysfunctional board, but this board came together exactly a year ago and, with Dr. Barron’s leadership and his team, implemented an in-state tuition freeze. So we know it can be done, and I just had hoped that we could do it again this year.”

When it came time for the vote, six trustees voted against the tuition increase: Ted Brown, Anthony Lubrano, Rob Tribeck, Bill Oldsey, Alice Pope, and Russell Redding.

The university budget received some opposition as well, with the Board approving the $5.1 billion operating budget with four “no” votes.

The other important agenda item was the executive committee elections, including what started as a contentious Chair race but ended without fireworks. Ira Lubert was elected as the Board’s new Chair and Mark Dambly the Vice Chair. Where Lubert ran unopposed, Dambly received the majority vote over student trustee Allie Goldstein, 20-14.

Masser gave his final remarks as Chairman to conclude the meeting, thanking the Board and those who have helped him in serving as its leader. Trustee Anthony Lubrano had a comment before Masser adjourned the meeting, commending Chair-elect Lubert on the leadership he presented in this morning’s executive session, though he didn’t reveal what those demonstrations of leadership were.

In a speech all about leadership, Lubrano said in closing that he is looking forward to Lubert’s.

The meeting was adjourned afterwards just before 4 p.m. Wilkes-Barre, as was pointed out repeatedly (and accurately) throughout the two-day session, is a beautiful Penn State campus. The trustees will next convene in September in University Park at the Penn Stater. Until next time, BoT.

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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