Edward McFadden – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa- Clarion University’s council of trustees — the group of state-appointed professionals whose responsibility is to hire and oversee presidents, approve new academic programs, regulate student affairs and more — met Thursday, Sept. 21 for updates from various committees, and to garner a snapshot of both the school’s position and momentum.
The council convenes regularly every few months, but, after a busy summer, this meeting was reportedly filled with new material to discuss.
Notably, this was the first meeting of the council since Dr. Karen Whitney stepped down from her post as president Sept. 12 to become interim chancellor for the State System. Dr. Todd Pfannestiel has assumed the duties of acting president and gave the presidential remarks for the meeting. These included details on the success of the new opioid certificate and a rise in enrollment.
Several university projects remain ongoing and were discussed in the meeting, including the renovation of the Tippin Gymnasium, and the construction of a new pool for swimmers and divers. No formal date of expected completion has been released yet, but Student Trustee Edward Green says that progress is being made.
“The current situation is at a better spot than it has been previously,” said Green, a senior political science and certificate in paralegal studies. “It seems there is some optimism on the project.”
Other projects include repairs to sidewalks about Clarion and roof replacements for Still Hall and Marwick-Boyd Auditorium. The sidewalks near the east entrance of the Gemmell Student Complex are currently being worked on.
A letter of retrenchment, which had the potential to cost many faculty members of many disciplines their jobs, was formally withdrawn, to the relief of many. State universities are still yet expected to keep tight budgets over the next year.
However, Dr. Adam Roberts, chair of the Faculty Senate, reported that it was announced at this meeting that Clarion University finished the last fiscal year with a budget surplus rather than a deficit. This is the first such occurrence in five years.
Retention rates for students is up over 4% as compared with previous years, reportedly. Dr. Susanne Fenske gave credit to the Living Learning Communities in the Residence Halls. Fenske also pointed out that the Center for Wellness is planning a Wellness Week.
The council of trustees await a follow up to a formal request, or a “resolution” issued by the trustees during the summer meeting. In it, the council called on the state system and specifically former Chancellor Brogan to adjust allocation of increases to funding for state schools. Green signified that it was important to better reflect the need of the institutions.
One past allocation of increased funding gave 64% of funds to only 4 of the 14 PASSHE schools, according to Green. The resolution would require any increased funding be divided into equal fourteenths. The effect remains to be seen. The council will meet again in November.