These are challenging times in higher education.
The lingering effects of the pandemic, state funding that lags well behind peer institutions, and significant increases in the cost of supplies and other operating expenses are among the challenges we face at Penn State. Following a few years in which the University operated with a significant general funds budget deficit, President Neeli Bendapudi committed to Penn State’s Board of Trustees to balance the budget by 2025.
Several measures, including a new budget allocation model, have been planned. The model is designed with the best interests of the University as the top priority, and it will require Smeal to reduce expenses by nearly 2.5% in the coming fiscal year.
Revenues generated from the expansion of our professional graduate program portfolio in recent years have allowed us to reinvest in faculty positions, research, and academic and student engagement programs — all of which contribute mightily to the health of our brand today. Going forward, enrollment in our undergraduate and graduate programs will determine our budget allocation.
I have every confidence that we can manage this change and accommodate the temporary reduction while continuing to enhance the student experience, the quality of our programs, and the caliber of our research.
Despite these short-term challenges, we remain committed to maximizing value for our students by staying on top of their changing needs and preferences. A new subcommittee of Smeal’s Board of Visitors is already considering the future of business education. And in March, we announced plans to pause and redesign the Executive MBA program based in Philadelphia. Future students can expect a more flexible, technology-driven approach that maximizes convenience for learners while maintaining the rigor, collaboration, and personalization for which our faculty and programs are widely respected.
I couldn’t be more grateful for the passion and commitment of our faculty and staff. Their creativity and focus as we address these budget challenges will undoubtedly position us for even greater success in the decades ahead.
In Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, the character Antonio suggested “What’s past is prologue.” If this is true, Smeal’s historical contribution to the academic, strategic, and financial wellbeing of Penn State should provide every indication of the role we are prepared to play in advancing the University’s mission and President Bendapudi’s goals in the future.
We’re all in.
Thanks, as always, for taking this journey with me.