By Peggy Diaco
The Council of Trustees met for the first time this year on Feb. 16 in the Innovations Center.
Dr. Welsh stated in her report that a couple of weeks ago, Governor Tom Wolf was at the Innovations Center to have sessions with local elected officials and other business leaders.
President Welsh and Ken Long, the Vice President of Administration and Finance, were also able to meet with the governor to discuss the ESU budget as well as current challenges.
The president said that they had a good conversation with him.
The governor presented his budget for higher education which increased to 8.8 million to the state system of 14 campuses.
“Which we sincerely appreciate,” said Dr. Welsh, “but we have to keep in mind that our deficit for fiscal year 2017, after all the collective bargaining agreements were settled, is now about 7 million, so that 8.8 million divided by 14, if we get that much, isn’t going to be as much as we actually need. We do have a lot of advocacy and work to do to figure out how we are going to make it through with that kind of deficit.”
“When the Chancellor gave his state of the system address, he noted that other campuses in other states are closing or are merging. At this time we really don’t know what the system is going to do,” Dr. Welsh said.
“The fact that other campuses are closing and merging should give us pause on what we want to look like three years and five years from now.”
Senator Mario Scavello questioned Long about the deficit and what can be done to help reduce it as it “does not look pretty.”
“We are currently punching the numbers at 6.8 million projected for next year,” said Long.
“We think there are some things in terms of position vacancies, and other cost savings that we can achieve. We are also hoping, but we don’t control, a tuition increase would be necessary to help cover some of that gap so that we are still in the range of two to four million that we are uncertain with on how we will cover that gap.”
Long also said that he did reach out to the campus community at the all university meetings to look within their own departments to see what cost savings they can come up with.
President Marcia Welsh stated that April 17 and 18 are System Advocacy Days and they are in the process of selecting students and faculty to accompany them to Harrisburg.
“Not just to advocate for funding for the system, but also to continue to inform our representatives of all that our 14 campuses do for the Commonwealth,” said Welsh.
President Welsh was asked if she thought ESU would ever close or merge with another campus.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I don’t see ESU closing. I think we’re strong and we are going to get stronger and do things better, but are we going to have to do things differently? Absolutely,” Welsh said.
When asked about the rumor that Health Center services will be closed, Dr. Welsh replied that she did not know at this time.
“We did an RFP (request for proposal) to investigate if we can better serve our students with another mechanism with finances the way they are. Right now, nurses are retiring and the director had to retire, so this is a good time to look if this is the best that we can do for our students,” Welsh said.
“No matter what we do, there will be no break in service and one way or another it will be the best we can do for our students at a price they can afford, because price matters. If we do close, everyone will know way ahead of time and there will absolutely be no break in service for the students. No matter what our decision is, it will be close and it will be better for our students.”
The president stated that the Middle States Site Team visits are to take place April 9 to 12 for our 10 year reaccreditation review.
“The successful visit is critical for our campus and I do look forward to showing off all that we’ve done in the past 10 years,” said Dr. Welsh.
The unveiling of the new logos, both the institutional logo and the athletic logo along with the introduction of our new warrior mascot, occurred in January.
Social media is currently being used to collect name suggestions for the new mascot.
Once several names have been selected, a committee of seven students, four from the student-athlete committee and three from the student senate will pick the top three to five top names.
Those top chosen names will then go back to social media for a vote from students and anyone else to vote for the final name.
“I think this has been a tremendously fun process and I look forward to calling the new Warrior mascot by some catchy warrior-appropriate name,” said Dr. Welsh.
She went on to thank Brenda Friday and her team for all they have done and revealed that Brenda Friday did put on the mascot costume and was the first person to do so.
The meeting ended to go to executive session.
The next Council of Trustees meeting will be April 26.
To read the Chancellor’s address, click here.
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