Central Penn College Faces $2 Million Deficit

The President of Central Penn College recently sent out the following letter to describe how they will combat a large deficit:

Dear Central Penn Faculty and Staff Members,

Thank you for attending our town hall meeting on October 25. It is always wonderful to have our entire team together in one room; it serves as a reminder that we're all working toward a common goal!

As we approach the end of the year, I wanted to follow up with you about the information we shared and the improvements that will be made to stabilize our finances and secure the future of our institution. Our goal is not only to be as transparent as possible but to enlist your help in being part of innovative new solutions.

As we outlined, the college is facing a $2 million budget deficit. Financial stability is an industry-wide challenge that is facing virtually every institution of higher education.

Central Penn College’s budgetary shortfall is not insurmountable, but our financial position forces us to be agile in the face of a changing higher education landscape. We are viewing these financial challenges as opportunities to reevaluate the way we do things. Our goal is to streamline and improve our processes. Our budget gap has propelled us to rethink the way we care for our students and to fortify their road to success.

We must concentrate on both revenues and on expenditures. Therefore, we must not only reduce expenses but expand the services that generate revenue.

You are key to the success of our new plans. While we have already spoken with many of you individually, we wanted to share our key action steps with you collectively.

Here are the top 10 changes we plan to implement as of January 1, 2023:

1. We must centralize and bolster our resources to maximize student success. As such, Bollinger Hall will be transformed into the “Center for Student Success.” Our Learning Center will transition into a Student Success Hub and broaden in scope and faculty members will now serve as academic advisors and hold some of their regular office hours here. Tutoring services and study halls also will take place in the Student Success Hub. The goal is to establish a one-stop shop so our students never question where they should go for support.

We will transition the Advising Center to a team of success coaches that will be led by Megan Peterson. In addition, the Success Coaches will also have dual roles championing various programs such as Athletics, Special Accommodations, PACT and FYE.

Adrienne Thoman will be staffing the Student Success Hub with programming from faculty, staff, the Success Coaches and all other offices on campus. All members of this team will be dedicated to helping our students excel through various new and intensive programs and workshops.

2. Our current Academic Deans are among our best professors at the college and will be returning to a larger teaching role. Some of them may also assume the role of Program Directors. By “flattening” our administrative layers, we can bring administrators closer to students. This structure will allow our Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs to work more directly with Program Directors.

3. In another service expansion, we will be expanding our counseling services for our students. Mental health services are now more important than ever and we recognize the need to expand availability.

We will be contracting with the highly recommended counseling services of Mazzitti and Sullivan, beginning in January 2023. This partnership will allow us to provide services 24 hours a day / 365 days a year. M&S has over 4,000 counselors that specialize in eating disorders, depression, substance use disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and many other areas of health care. Counseling services can even be accessed online to maximize convenience, privacy, and comfort, which is particularly beneficial to those reluctant to ask for help. Additional details will follow.

As an added benefit, we will be extending counseling services to faculty, staff and their families.

Representatives from Mazzitti and Sullivan will be meeting with students, faculty and staff on campus and virtually throughout the month of January to explain how to access these services.

4. We will expand our successful Corporate Education programs by building a Center for Workforce Excellence. These partnerships with GIANT, Members 1st Federal Credit Union, UPMC, Messiah Lifeways and others have been extremely successful, and we hope to launch even more innovative corporate programming.

5. We also will be building new programs that are increasingly in demand in today’s marketplace and augmenting existing ones. We plan to modernize our IT and Business programs --two fields that are expected to grow the most in 2023, according to the 2023 Economic Outlook (NACE, October 2022 report) -- to meet the demands of the current job market. We will also be launching a series of dental certificate programs, in partnership with a local network of dental practices.

6. As enrollment has declined and faculty and staff people have left the college over the past several years, we have evaluated those positions, and decided to hold those positions vacant in order to continue to realize savings for the college. This has enabled the college to maintain a higher percentage of existing positions.

7. We will be centralizing textbook purchases, through a partnership with Harrisburg Area Community College. This will make it quicker and more convenient for students and faculty to access textbooks. Students will have the option to purchase books for home delivery and now for pick up at HACC's physical bookstore. This also will allow for students to purchase some textbooks on the spot without preordering online. The store will also carry Central Penn College merchandise, further cementing our partnership.

8. The college is reestablishing the Center for Teaching Excellence, led by an internally searched CTE Director.

9. Finally, as we have identified Athletics as a major growth opportunity, the Athletic Director will now report directly to me. A robust plan for athletics recruitment is being developed by our Athletic Director Kasey Hicks and our AVP Lisa Seifert.

10. Jennifer Mariacher’s AVP role will transition to CFO and will serve on the president’s cabinet beginning in the new year.

Faculty and staff members affected by these changes have already been communicated with directly by members of cabinet. As a result of the 10 steps we have outlined, we will achieve our savings and will result in a balanced budget. We understand that this reduced workforce will result in all of us who are remaining to step up and take on additional duties. In some cases, these duties will be new roles. Here is a link for everyone to apply if interested.

Our overarching goal must be to boost enrollment and retain the students that we have recruited. In the interim, we are taking these steps toward streamlining our organization through reorganization. All cabinet members will be holding office meetings on Monday, November 21, to share these changes with you in more detail. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

Thank you for all you do for our student body and to further the mission of Central Penn College. Do not hesitate to reach out to me or any member of the college's leadership team if you have any questions or concerns.

I believe our current pathway is lined with stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. With your help, we will get stronger with each step.

Gratefully,

Dr. Linda Fedrizzi-Williams

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