President Rodney Erickson spoke about university funding and the possibility of sequestration in the government to members of the Graduate Student Association at Wednesday night's general meeting.
Erickson said he wanted to have a conversation with GSA members to tell them what he has been working on. Erickson said he attended the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee meeting in Harrisburg this week and funding was a big topic.
Erickson told the graduate students that tuition accounts for over 80 percent of the education budget, and appropriation money from the state accounts about 13-14 percent. The rest is made up of a variety of indirect costs, he said.
Erickson told GSA that the university is doing everything it can to keep tuition increases as low as possible.
Erickson also talked about the possibility of sequestration, which is a series of automatic cuts to government agencies that is being talked about in Washington.
"One of the things I worry about right now is sequestration because we don't know what the full effects of sequestration will be, but it will be fairly significant," Erickson said.
He added that if sequestration happens, Penn State could lose money in research funds, as well as money for future grants.
Lastly, Erickson talked to students about the continuing growth of World Campus, and the possibility for more professional and masters courses offered online.
Many GSA members had questions for Erickson regarding how the future of World Campus will effect undergraduate and graduate enrollment at University Park, and how it will effect professors.
"What is happening here is that the portion and number of graduate students who are here at University Park will increase because of World Campus," Erickson said.
Erickson said there are tenured professors at the school specifically for World Campus courses, and said while the online courses are growing, it will never eliminate the need for classes and professors on campus.
"It was important that Erickson talked about World Campus and the future of Penn State," GSA Executive Vice President Robbie Fraleigh (graduate- physics) said . "We like to bring [Erickson] in once a year to talk about things and have a conversation."
After Erickson spoke, the meeting continued with executive and standing committee reports.
Vice President of External Affairs Dave Rench said he had a discussion with the head of Rock Ethics Institute and a Smeal professor of Organizational Behavior and Ethics to better evaluate the principles and values of Penn State. He said they are looking into ways to collect all the different value statements across the university and take raw material from it for focus groups to see what values are similar and shared across the university.
Rench also discussed a recap of State Patty's Day and said arrests and calls were down in the borough and anecdotal evidence from the Pennsylvania Tavern Association and the community said students were mostly calm during the weekend. Rench also said there were less parking tickets and less number of patients at Mt. Nittany Medical Center compared to 2012.
"[The numbers] shows optimism that maybe students are starting to see our point," Rench said of GSA's work with the Partnership- Campus and Community United Against Dangerous Drinking this year.
During standing committee reports, the Human Diversity committee was re-introduced to the assembly. Fraleigh said it is not a new committee, but hasn't been very active in years past. But, Fraleigh wanted to change that and he and GSA member Yihan Li now give the Human Diversity report at the meeting.
"There are a lot of diversity related issues in the university that should be addressed," Fraleigh said of why GSA re-introduced the committee. "We also need to celebrate the diversity we have in our student groups."