State Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin – Cumberland) visited Shippensburg University on Thursday, April 12, to get a first-hand glimpse at cost-saving measures implemented by the university in the last few years.
The tour is an appeal by SU and the PASSHE system to take a stand against the 20 percent cuts proposed in this year’s state budget by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Various university officials including SU President William Ruud accompanied Kauffman on the tour that highlighted current construction projects and cost saving measures.
The tour covered nearly the entire campus with stops at the new housing construction, the recently renovated Reisner Dining Hall and the Ceddia Union Building. The most important stop was the new housing being constructed on campus. The new student housing dubbed “The Suites at Ship,” are in Phase 1 with three new buildings to be completed by spring 2013. The $74 million project is completely financed by students.
Lance Bryson, Assistant Vice President for Facilities at SU, discussed the ongoing construction.
“It’s a $52 million project in the ground, $74 million project counting financing, big bucks for Central Pennsylvania,” said Bryson, “Forty percent of those construction dollars are going to local firms. Again, big bucks for Pennsylvania.”
SU is the one of the last of the PASSHE universities to construct new suite-style, student-owned housing, followed lastly by Millersville University.
“We were careful,” Ruud said on the new housing construction, “We wanted to be on the cutting edge not the bleeding edge.”
Throughout the tour, Ruud and university officials talked about the push for energy efficiency throughout campus, as well as the new efficiencies that will be in place at the completion of current projects.
Reisner Dining Hall for example has cut over 2,000 pounds of food waste a week by eliminating trays and introducing made-to-order dining. When the renovations are completed at the CUB, it will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, silver standards.
The tour itself, however, was designed to put the university budget at the forefront of the current state political discourse. Most, if not all, of the current construction on campus is funded by student fees and the Student Association.
At the end of the tour, Ruud and Kauffman discussed current budgetary woes as well as what could be done in the future to better the PASSHE system.
Ruud used the opportunity to drive home the point that the PASSHE system is crucial to central Pennsylvania and is an economic driver for the state and local communities.
“We are a $3.6 billion economic driver in the state of Pennsylvania,” Ruud said.
“Our big problem really is the operational budget,” Ruud said. “It’s our personnel. Our personnel are the people who educate the students; they come to the classroom, they teach.
Kauffman recognizes the plight of PASSHE and plans on using the tour of SU as a talking point in the upcoming debate on the state budget.
“This is good research for me as I go back to Harrisburg and we advocate.” Kauffman said.
“What I see you all doing here at Shippensburg is great stuff. You have already been making the cuts necessary, not only by necessity but because that’s who you are here. I recognize that and want to be an advocate for the university,” Kauffman said.
This year the PASSHE system is facing a 20 percent budget reduction. Ruud and Kauffman are hoping to bring the number down significantly.
“If we are going to force the university system to do with less, we have to equip them to do their job effectively with less,” Kauffman said in his closing comments.
More information on the proposed Pennsylvania budget can be found at Kauffman’s website at www.repkauffman.com.