November 24, 2008
To the campus community:
In recent weeks I have visited each of the campus constituency groups to discuss the current global economic crisis, what we have done as a university to prepare, and the challenges and opportunities we face. Because the headlines about colleges and universities nationwide could provoke uncertainty and unease, I write to give you a sense of what is happening and how we are moving forward.
You know that the state budget shortfall is significant, and our budget includes, in addition to revenues such as tuition and grants, a state appropriation. Last Friday, the University System of New Hampshire announced that we are returning 7% of our state appropriation for 2009. This was not a surprise, but something for which we had prepared. As we at PSU planned for our share of the return, we made students and employees our priorities. To implement this reduction, we will be holding selected positions vacant, delaying position reclassifications, and postponing some scheduled renovations. Student programs will proceed without interruption or cost increases. I spoke before the Governor and Fiscal Committee of the excellence at PSU, including our contribution to the state’s economic well-being.
We have never put operating expenses on endowment earnings and as a result will not face the cuts that some schools are facing. Our fiscal managers on campus and at the system have been careful and prudent, for which we can thank them.
We do face challenges, and we will meet them. The most important is to support our students. Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college; often families face serious economic pressures. Access and affordability matter to us. We have worked to increase our institutional financial aid in recent years and will continue to do so, and the Office of Financial Aid is exceptional in its care. Please make sure that you advise students to meet with Financial Aid if you hear concerns.
Also, we are in the quiet phase of a new campaign, with the support of our alumni, parents, friends, President’s Council, and Board of Trustees. We are developing innovative academic and support programs; advancing our initiatives in internationalization and in sustainability; and moving forward on exciting plans such as ALLWell that will position the University well for the future. We will get through this, and we will do so together.
As a campus community, we have much for which to be thankful. In recent weeks we have celebrated new awards to honor excellence past and present and enjoyed international week events with wonderful foods and music. We have seen student success in the classrooms, on athletic fields (including the achievement of post-season play), and in extraordinary musical and theatrical performances. We can be proud.
This is not a traditional Thanksgiving message, but it is a heartfelt one.
May your holidays be safe and joyous.
Sara Jayne Steen
Plymouth State University
MSC #1, 17 High St.
Plymouth, NH 03264