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Gates at the entrance of California University of PennsylvaniaGates at the entrance of California University of Pennsylvania

THIS WEEK'S MESSAGE FROM INTERIM PRESIDENT JONES

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Posted on August 27, 2013

To: All Faculty, staff and students

From: Interim President Geraldine M. Jones

It’s wonderful to have our students, faculty and staff back on campus as the fall semester gets under way. Fifteen new tenure-track professors have joined us at Cal U, new staff members and managers are onboard, and after meeting the Class of 2017 at Cal U for Life New Student Orientation, I am looking forward to a very successful year.

Today at our 2013 Fall Faculty-Staff Convocation, I updated our employees on the state of the University.

I was especially pleased to announce that California University ended the 2012-2013 fiscal year without a financial deficit — the first time in five years that Cal U has balanced its books.

In a little over a year, our University’s leadership team has erased a deficit that was nearing $12 million. We achieved this objective by planning carefully and focusing on Cal U’s core mission: the academic education of our students. Every area on campus contributed to the goal of returning our University to a more solid financial footing.

In fact, the University ended the 2012-2013 fiscal year with a surplus for the first time in several years. The exact amount of this surplus will be determined within the next week, after the auditors have approved our 2012-2013 financial statements. 

This surplus will be added to our University fund balance, which has been depleted significantly over the past three years. Similar to a family’s “emergency fund,” the University’s fund balance can be used to cover unplanned expenditures, life cycle replacements, deferred maintenance expenditures and shortfalls at year-end should our expenses exceed our revenues.

I also reported on enrollment in today’s address. Although our headcount has dipped since last year, I am heartened by preliminary news that Cal U’s freshman enrollment has increased by a remarkable 26 percent compared to fall 2012. 

A Day Three “snapshot” shows the University’s total headcount down by less than          4 percent, compared to fall 2012. We expect this total to fluctuate a bit before the official census date, but it is a promising sign that our enrollment has begun to stabilize.

In addition, I was pleased to report that our main-campus residence halls are filled to 99.3 percent of capacity, and the University Housing Office continues to place residents at Vulcan Village. This also tells us that Cal U is moving in the right direction.

Looking ahead

Despite these positive indicators, our University still faces financial pressures created by a combination of flat or declining state appropriations, increased personnel costs and continuing enrollment challenges.

Tuition income alone will not meet our needs. We must continue to seek savings in order to secure our financial recovery.

Before the end of the semester, I intend to finalize a workforce development plan that will position Cal U to move into the future as a stronger and more vibrant University. As part of that plan, I will rescind the retrenchment letter that was delivered to our faculty union earlier this year. Instead, the University will undertake a comprehensive review of all our academic programs, to ensure that we are directing our resources to the programs that our students want and need.

From a business standpoint, this approach makes good sense. To secure Cal U’s future, we must align payroll, programs and services with the resources available.

I will keep the lines of communication open as this plan is finalized. The details will be transparent. But let me be clear — we will no longer mortgage the future of this University. 

At today’s convocation, I called on every member of the campus community to adopt a more practical mindset. We must look for opportunities to engage prospective students, to provide excellent “customer service” for our current students, and to maintain connections with our graduates. We must form strong alliances with community partners who believe in our mission. Every one of us must be an advocate for our mission and a champion for Cal U.

I have no doubt that if we continue to work together, and to support one another, we can accomplish great things.

With best wishes for a productive and enjoyable fall semester,

Geraldine M. Jones

Interim President, California University of Pennsylvania

With best wishes,

Interim President Jones' signature.

Meet Interim President Geraldine M. Jones

(Please note: A copy of President Jones’ presentation to the 2013 Fall Faculty-Staff Convocation is available online in the Public Folders section of the Cal U Intranet.)