By Rachel Colella
SC Contributing Writer
On Sept. 17 at 4 p.m., East Stroudsburg University’s Council of Trustees held it’s first meeting of the semester in the Innovation Center.
The meeting started off with the President’s report, which was delivered by President Welsh.
She began by talking about the summer freshman orientation. The Way of the Warrior was the main attraction of orientation according to Dr. Welsh.
At the event, Dr. Welsh explained, there were about 800 students and faculty. The students carried candles in the Way of the Warrior and there were also banners that had the seven virtues of being a Warrior.
Dr. Welsh states, “I was not present but I was told by people that were there that it was a very emotional, very incredible event and that everyone hopes it will become a tradition here at ESU.”
Enrollment at ESU increased significantly this semester with the largest entering class in ESU history, a total of 1315 new freshman students.
This marks “two years of consecutive enrollment growth after four years of decline,” said Dr. Welsh
ESU’s numbers have declined for out-of-state students, however, because of “competition and recruiting institutions.”
“The returning undergrad did decline by about eighty students which is an area in which we need to focus.” President Welsh stated.
The Council of Trustees also discussed the many new things happening on campus such as the new calendar online and the One Book, One Campus this semester, Your Face in Mine by Jess Row. Row will be on campus for a discussion on Oct. 27.
Talk about the finance committee came about and a 2015-2016 balanced budget was approved by the Council.
The budget contained a total operating budget of 138,000,000 and 101,000,000 or 102,000,000 is for education in general.
A few key points in that budget include: tuition increase of 2.4 percent, and enrollment budget increase for the year of nine-tenths of a percent.
The tuition increase includes all general fees, student activity fees, and room and board for incoming students.
Additionally, because a state budget has not yet been passed, the Council does not yet know how much money to anticipate from the Commonwealth.
“For purposes of this budget,” said Dr. Welsh, “the university included a three percent increase in State Appropriations to the State System.”
Personnel expenses for the university equate to 72 percent of the total educational and general budget for the year. Dr. Welsh said, “Salaries and wages are budgeted to increase 4.1 percent” over last year, resulting in “wage increases for all bargaining units, except faculty and coaches and also does not include a salary increase for non-represented employees.”
In total, the 2015-2016 budget amounts to a five percent ($4.8 million) increase over last year’s budget.
“But,” warned Dr. Welsh, “please keep in mind, we’re not out of the woods yet; ESU’s balance budget may be significantly impacted once a budget is approved for the State and/or changes in the wage for coaches, faculty and non-represented employees that apply to the current year.”
She continued, “Together, we must continue to remain cautiously optimistic while continuing to work together to creatively improve our bottom line with a keen eye on enhancing student retention and progression in all we do.”
The meeting progressed with other orders of business.
As of now, a Student Trustee has not yet been chosen.
The new chairs/lounges outside of the Hoeffner Science and Technology building are part of a new initiative called the Third Space Project.
The idea behind the Third Space Project to find open spaces around campus and to transform them into places where students and faculty can relax, communicate and collaborate.
The Third Space Project is also looking into a few new things such as portable cellular towers, and weather shelters over the benches for the shuttle.
Dr. Welsh ended her report by mourning the two students, Samantha Agins and Alyssa Oxenford, and one alumnus, Eric Brian, who passed away this summer.
The next Council of Trustees meeting will be held in the Innovation Center on Oct. 22.
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