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Penn State to study options for Commonwealth Campuses, as it rolls out budget cuts

Old Main administrative building
Emily Reddy
Old Main administrative building

Overall enrollment at Penn State’s Commonwealth campuses has dropped almost 30% since 2010, and now university leaders say they’re taking a broad look at how to operate the campuses in the future.

It comes as the university is rolling out plans for a sweeping assessment of its colleges and programs, and cutting financial support to many units. Overall, the Commonwealth Campuses are slated to see a 14% cut in funding.

Speaking during a recent university board of trustees committee meeting, Margo DelliCarpini, vice president for the Commonwealth Campuses, said enrollment growth will be critical at the campuses. But, not enough by itself.

“I know it's not just enrollment growth that we're going to be focusing on because at some of our campuses our populations continue to dwindle," DelliCarpini said. "And if we're looking at a more localized student body who tend to go to campuses, we know that we're challenged by population and demographic changes.”

DelliCarpini said they’re looking at “enrollment growth plus.” The plans could include working more closely with local communities and school districts and matching academic programs to community needs.

A chart showing declining enrollment at Penn State's Commonwealth Campuses over time.
Penn State

“We know how important our campuses are to the communities that they serve," DelliCarpini said. "And we know how important it is to bring the resources of Penn State to our communities.”

She said seven campuses are projecting enrollment growth, but 10 are in “challenging spots.”

The cuts are slated to take effect in the 2025-26 fiscal year. They were part of a discussion during a recent Faculty Senate meeting.

Julio Palma, from Penn State Fayette, questioned the university’s assertion that having 18 months before the budget cuts come will help.

“If we are driving off a cliff with no brakes, it doesn’t matter if we are a mile away or 100 miles away," he said.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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