The heads of the four state-related universities tried Wednesday to make the case that state funding is a major piece of their budgets. The move comes as their institutions face deep cuts for the second year in a row.
The Presidents of Penn State, Pitt, and Temple went before lawmakers in Harrisburg to testify on their budgetary needs. The Corbett Administration is calling for a 30 percent reduction to state funding for the schools. The presidents called that too harsh.
The administration's go-to argument for a while was the cuts represent a small percentage of the institutions' overall operating budgets, but the universities' leaders counter that funding comes from a vast array of sources that are often dedicated to specific purposes. Penn State president Rodney Erickson said questions are often raised about his institution's endowment, and whether it can be used to defray rising costs.
"The answer is no. Those funds were entrusted to us as endowment to continue to grow those funds and use the proceeds off of them for specific purposes. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever given the university money to pay the electric bill," Erickson said.
Mark Nordenberg, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, told the lawmakers that if his schools' tuition absorbed the full brunt of the proposal, it would mean a rate hike of 18 percent for in-state students. "If you look at what is happening through these accumulating cuts, basically we're being pushed to being private institutions," said Nordenberg.
Lincoln University's funding would be held level under Corbett's plan. President Robert Jennings said if it had been cut, the school would have to plan for a tuition increase.