HARRISBURG — Penn State President Rodney Erickson met with the Pennsylvania State Senate Appropriation Committee in Harrisburg Thursday to talk about Penn State’s funding for the upcoming fiscal year — in the meantime, he was questioned about the Freeh Report.
Erickson fielded questions from the committee headed by Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, about the proposed funding set for Penn State, which is set to remain the same from the past year.
Erickson, along with representatives from three other state-related universities — including the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University — said they are grateful that there were no cuts from last year’s budget. However, they added that it was a struggle to provide the type of education that the universities were accustomed to before the previous year’s budget cuts.
“We are grateful to deal with a year of flat funding as opposed to budget cuts from past years,” University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said. “But if you do take a year of flat funding, following a year of flat funding, following a year of historically deep cuts, you get back to 1995 in absolute dollars, so it is a challenge.”
Erickson said that, faced with flat funding, students may see a slight tuition increase, but that Penn State is doing its best to keep costs down.
“We understand the challenges that students are facing in regards to tuition,” Erickson said. “The money that comes from the state is part of our general funds so it supports core instruction and helps pay all bills.”
Questions from the committee included some research funding, which could see a dip because of the upcoming federal government sequester, Erickson said, because many research dollars come from the government.
Corman then shifted gears and said he wondered about the accuracy of the Freeh Report with the recent reports coming out questioning the $6.5 million report. He asked Erickson if he felt the report was accurate, to which Erickson responded that he had no response at the time because of criminal investigations that have yet to play out.
Corman said he appreciated why Erickson would wait but wondered why that wasn’t done in regards to the Freeh Report.
“When Penn State decided to release this report without any review or due diligence, it already entered into the fray of these criminal trials and to the public discourse of how this matter is treated and I would have been very comfortable if Penn State or anyone else would have just waited for the due process to happen,” Corman said. “The Freeh Report cost Penn State a significant amount of money.”
Corman said he respects Penn State’s contribution to the state and hopes that someday the state will be able to offer more substantial support to the state-related universities.
The budget needs to be passed by June 30 to go into effect for the next fiscal year.