Lincoln U. president glad cuts were less than those for other state-related schools

Posted: February 09, 2012

Lincoln University president Robert R. Jennings got what he had hoped for Tuesday: His university was treated differently than the other three state-related schools in that its state funding was not slated to be cut.

Lincoln, a historically black college, relies more heavily on state funding than Pennsylvania State and Temple Universities and the University of Pittsburgh, which saw their state funding targeted for a 30 percent cut. That level of decrease for Lincoln could potentially cripple the school, the Corbett administration decided.

It would amount to about $3.3 million or 5.2 percent of Lincoln's $63.1 million operating budget. The 30 percent cuts at Penn State, Temple, and Pitt represent from 1.6 percent to 2.1 percent of their operating budgets, said Tim Eller, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Lincoln received $11.1 million in state funds this year, compared with the other schools, which got between $134 million and $214 million.

"The governor took the position that we need to ensure this university stays viable and remains an option in Pennsylvania to attend," Eller said. "Any further cuts could potentially present some problems with long-term viability."

Officials at Temple took exception with Eller's characterization.

They said it was not fair to look at the cut as related to Temple's overall operating budget, including its hospital and health system, student housing, and other operations, because the state appropriation can only be used on a smaller portion of that - an $875 million budget.

In that context, Temple's $41.9 million cut is just under 5 percent of the $875 million, said Anthony E. Wagner, Temple vice president, chief financial officer, and treasurer.

"We can't use [the state appropriation] for our housing or our food service or many other auxiliaries. We have to finance those through the fees we charge," he said, noting that the funds also cannot be used on the health system.

In that context, Wagner said, the proposed cut in state funding "is very substantial."

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers declined to comment on Lincoln.

"I only know that Penn State leverages modest state support into billions of dollars of economic impact, tens of thousands of jobs for Pennsylvanians, and deep tuition discounts for state residents," she said.

Penn State is due to get a $64.2 million cut.

Jennings said Monday that he hoped funding for Lincoln would be determined apart from the other three state-related schools. The other schools have larger alumni bases and networks that could help them cover a significant budget cut, he said. Many Lincoln students are first-generation college students from single-parent homes, he noted.

Jennings, newly appointed to the presidency in January, did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Named after President Abraham Lincoln, the 2,000-student university in southern Chester County was founded in 1854 as the Ashmun Institute. It counts the poet Langston Hughes and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall among its graduates.

Tuition and room and board costs more than $18,000 for in-state students and $23,000 for out-of-state students.


Contact staff writer Susan Snyder at 215-854-4693 or ssnyder@phillynews.com.

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