Over the past year, Penn State administration has cited a $140-million deficit projection in the FY23 general funds budget to scrap plans for a Center for Racial Justice; make unilateral changes to our healthcare; slash some unit budgets to unsustainable levels minus any transparency or faculty involvement in shared governance processes (see, for example, the WPSU story covering the College of Engineering’s budget); and threaten the livelihoods of precarious faculty and staff at our institution. Simultaneously, the administration has failed to produce a coherent account of the source of the alleged shortfall.
Our own research, however, suggests that the purported deficit may simply remain a forecast. A preliminary analysis of recent state-mandated financial reports reveals that the administration has been troublingly inaccurate in their income and expenditure budget projections, conveniently underpredicting the income in the past two years (by $116 million or 4.17% less than the actual income in FY22). We also find that the administration has stopped updating its internal budget web pages that used to provide detailed expenditure breakdowns, and drastically reduced the degree of reporting in the Stairs reports. The new base budget allocations currently do not take into account general fund research expenditures, and are thus in an incomplete format. Audited financial statements and a 2021 external audit commissioned by the Coalition for a Just University (CJU) show that the university already operates with a balanced budget, and we believe the opaque budget model is being deployed to advance an austerity agenda and to retreat from prior commitments.
If you share our concerns, please join us in organizing for a more just and equitable Penn State. We’re conducting our own research on Penn State’s current financial status, with a particular focus on the hastily developed budget allocation model. We’re also working to build faculty influence through other efforts, and seek to avert future academic program budget cuts that the administration may announce this summer. We want to stress that we need you. All of you.
We need hundreds of faculty to join together to build real power that we know we can build. So please, add your name and non-PSU email to this form if you’d like to get involved. You can also email us directly at email@example.com.
– The faculty of the Coalition for a Just University, which is composed of tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure line faculty from across Penn State’s campuses