|March Council Meeting Coverage
March 31, 2009,
Volume 55, No. 27
At the start of the March 25 University Council meeting, President Amy Gutmann asked for a moment of silence in memory of the recently deceased Trustee Emerita Leonore Annenberg, (Almanac March 17, 2009) who the president described as “a great American citizen and a great benefactor.”
Dr. Gutmann announced that the University-wide minimum stipend for graduate students will increase by 2% and stipends in the School of Arts and Sciences will increase by 3%. Since 2004, Penn has increased the base stipend for all graduate students by 24% and the base stipend for graduate students in SAS by 61%.
Her status report also noted that Penn is “doing our part to mitigate the impact that the economic crisis is having on our students and their families.” Undergraduate tuition for the coming year will increase by 3.75%—the lowest percentage increase in 41 years. Total charges will increase by 3.8% (see Table below).
On the environmental front, her report noted that utility usage is the single largest source of Penn’s carbon footprint and a major cost to the University at $85 million annually. Although Penn meets the Kyoto Protocol, which called for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the 1990 levels, FRES and the School of Design’s T.C. Chan Center will work to establish campus-wide carbon reduction targets and implement efficiency and conservation measures on campus.
Each year, the March meeting focuses on Penn’s budget and plans for the next academic year. The president turned to Vice President for Budget and Management Analysis, Bonnie Gibson who presented the current year’s budget and the tuition for next year:
The University Operating Budget
She gave an overview of the FY2009 Operating Budget: The $5.45 billion expenditure total includes $2.609 billion for the Academic budget and $2.843 billion for the Health System. The Academic budget is balanced; the Health System has a surplus of $108.5 million after transfers to the School of Medicine. The Academic Expenditure budget is up 8.9% compared to FY08 actual, 7.0% compared to FY08 budget. It includes $303 million in undergraduate and graduate student aid including stipends: up 13 percent.
$301 million in Capital Transactions including $157 million to fund projects (including SOM new research building, High Rise renovations, Franklin Field Pavilion, Music renovation, Mod VII Chilled Water and design of the Nanoscale Research Building,) $106 million for equipment and library acquisitions, and $38 million in external debt service.
The current Total Undergraduate Charges are $48,148. Only 71% of the cost of a Penn education is covered by tuition and fees (audited Statement of Activities). The balance is supported by philanthropy (gifts and endowment). There are 55% of Penn students who receive financial aid from internal or external sources. The average freshman aid package is $33,357. The average freshman grant is $29,745. The average freshman loan is $940; 70% of our grant aided freshmen this year have no loan packages.
The No-Loan Initiative: In the current year Penn replaced loans with grants for all aid-eligible students from families with calculated incomes of $100,000 or less, and reduced loans by 10% for all other income levels. Penn will replace loans with grants for all aid eligible students in FY10. This means no charges for the typical students from a family with income of less than $40,000; no tuition for the typical student from a family with income of less than $90,000.
Graduate and Professional Tuition: PhD tuition will increase by 3%. Research Masters tuition increased at same 3% rate. As always, professional tuition continues to be set by the individual schools. This year increases range from 0% to 5%.
PhD Overview: In FY2008 Penn had 3,136 PhD students across 9 schools and 52 Graduate Groups. Almost all PhD students are fully funded for a period of 3 to 5 years (3 in those schools where students generally enter the program with a masters degree, 5 in others). Full funding includes the remission of tuition and fees, a stipend, and health insurance in each of the funded years. Some Schools pay a higher stipend to cover health insurance. A 5-year standard funding package (SAS Humanities) for students entering in the fall of 2009 is worth over $250,000 in constant FY10 dollars.
Summary: Penn began the current academic year with the financial strength due to sound fiscal management and prudent investment strategies. Because endowment income comprises only 9% of Penn’s budget we are better able to negotiate the economic downturn than some of our peers. We will continue to invest in our highest priorities, including undergraduate and graduate financial aid.
Interim Provost Vince Price had Associate Provost for Education Andy Binns present an overview of two new initiatives being launched in collaboration with SCUE. The Online Course Evaluation is being implemented this semester to provide feedback more quickly and efficiently as well as less costly than the traditional paper approach, which required tedious sorting and scanning of forms. The faster feedback will allow faculty to improve their teaching based on the students’ comments that will still be anonymous. Dr. Binns said that in-class reminders by faculty will be important to encourage student participation. The system will ultimately allow faculty to develop their own questions and be the only ones who have access to the answers. He also said that the Online Syllabus allows faculty to upload a PDF of their syllabus, or even a version from a prior semester to give students more information when selecting classes. Although it is voluntary, he urged faculty to participate.
Involvement in Philadelphia
There was also a presentation on Penn’s involvement in West Philadelphia and the greater Philadelphia community. Dr. David Grossman, director of Civic House and Civic Scholars Program, described student civic engagement. He noted that Civic House, founded ten years ago, collaborates with the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships, the Fox Leadership Program and other centers, programs and schools on campus. Numerous Penn students are involved with volunteer initiatives at several locations in the area: nearly 7,000 students are engaged in volunteer activities at least 20 hours per semester. Almost 2,000 students took Academic Service-Learning (ABCS and related courses) last year. The Civic Scholars, an experience in civic engagement and research for students who want to commit to a four-year experience in a sustained way, involves 15 students in a class. There are now freshmen and sophomores who had been invited upon admission to Penn; this was instituted in fall 2007.
Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Anne Papageorge, along with Vice President for Business Services Marie Witt presented the Campus Circulation Study that was done to assess the impact of Penn Connects, the Campus Master Plan on the area. The goals of the study included a focus on pedestrian, bicycle and transit modes, moving toward a sustainable approach to campus development, improving safety for all modes, identifying and prioritizing the actions that should be taken to implement the transportation plan. With construction and development taking place at numerous corners of the campus, there will be many more “peak hour trips” adding to the congestion that already exists. The report indicates the need to encourage modifications to roadways and to commuter choices to prepare for the near and long-range future.
Improvements are proposed for key pedestrian crossings (see below) such as 34th and Locust Walk, 33rd Street and Smith Walk, 38th Street and Spruce Street, University Avenue/38th Street and Woodland/Baltimore Avenue, University Avenue and Curie Blvd., and University Avenue and Civic Center Boulevard.
Bicycle use was addressed: bike lanes and bike racks are heavily used; bike racks at building entrances contradict bike dismount pedestrian zones in campus areas where bike riding is prohibited. Penn will partner with UCD and Drexel to improve the Bike Network so that there are not gaps, and to maintain bike facilities and bike parking clusters. Improvements to transit schedules and routes would encourage more ridership as would safer stations and facilities and more service during peak and non-peak hours. Penn has 6,800 parking spaces in addition to the UPHS 1,615 spaces, and there is no waiting list. There is lower cost parking for motorized vehicles such as Vespas. Penn will prioritize the recommendations and discuss them with the stakeholders on and off-campus.