Student Convocation highlights a continuing decline in enrollment and a potential faculty strike


Rachael McKriger

Geraldine M. Jones, president, Cal U, takes center stage at the Campus Talk in the Natali Performance Center.

Mari Boyle, Opinion Editor

Student Government president Shaina Hilsey welcomed students to the annual Student Convocation on September 29, 2016. Shortly after she introduced the President Geraldine Jones, who went from interim president to permanent president of California University of Pennsylvania and will be officially inaugurated on October 14, 2016.

The beginning of the school year for California University of Pennsylvania has certainly been eventful. At the very beginning of the semester a collapse within the infrastructure of the Vulcan Garage led to its temporary closure, talk of a faculty strike has been circulating the campus and seems almost imminent, and many students and employees of Cal U remain curious of the universities future given the fiscal struggles caused by a decline in enrollment.

Thus, President Jones took to the podium and introduced the outline of the day’s discussion. Those main points were: enrollment and the budget, academic success, the Vulcan Parking Garage, and the possible strike with time at the end for student questions.

President Jones first reminded students of the significant relationship between the enrollment and the budget at Cal U. Revenue from tuition and fees accounts for two-thirds of Cal U’s budget. President Jones stated that the incoming freshman class was roughly the same size as the year before however the overall enrollment of the university has decreased 3.8 percent from the fall of 2015.

However, President Jones continues to claim that the firm Rufallo Noel Levitz, which was working with the university last fall, is working to increase enrollment through “action plans” and creating a mobile friendly website to improve the universities recruitment tactics. The firm along with a new dean for undergraduate admissions hopes to reach new students to increase Cal U’s enrollment.

On a more positive note, President Jones was proud to announce that Cal U continues to receive high marks for its academic success. In fact, Cal U was recently ranked 16th out of 206 public university master’s programs for its retention and graduate program.

President Jones was also able to tout the success of the “Support for Success” program where undergraduate students are able to meet with graduate students to develop vital skills to prepare them for success. 75 percent of students that take part in the “Support for Success” program outperform their peers in their freshman class.

President Jones then moved onto the contentious issue of the Vulcan Parking Garage. Students have expressed frustration and disappointment in the inconvenience of the closure of the garage. President Jones detailed the specifics of the collapse citing on August 26 a piece of concrete fell from the garage. Thankfully, no one and no property was damaged or hurt in the incident.

However, the garage has been shut down and will remain closed until the cause of the incident has been discovered and fixed. President Jones stated, “nothing is of greater concern than safety.” So, under the recommendation of the Michael Baker International construction firm, a “deeper dive” into the collapse of the garage has been undertaken.

President Jones assured students that for the parking permits that were relocated the appropriate pricing fees will be readjusted. As of now there is no time table for the reopening of the garage, but in regards to that President Jones said, “we will not open until we are confident that it is safe.”

The last item on the agenda was information on the potential faculty strike. Rumors on what might or might not occur in the event of the strike have only increased as the strike becomes more and more of a reality. President Jones wanted to clear up some of the confusion.

President Jones first assured students that the strike is not certain, however, if a negotiation between PASSHE and APSCUF is not reached by October 19 there will be a strike. In that event, President Jones stated that all other Cal U facilities will remain open.

This includes residence halls, Vulcan Village, the student center, the Herron Recreation Center, the food court, the library, etc. Furthermore, students should continue to report to their class and if after 10-15 minutes the instructor has not arrived students may leave their class.

President Jones encourages students to continue checking their email for any announcements regarding strike updates. On that note, the convocation concluded, as there were no student questions.