Tough Decisions Ahead at East Stroudsburg University

EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – To fill a budget deficit, leaders of East Stroudsburg University have cancelled a major project, and they say more tough decisions need to be made.

Kenneth Long is East Stroudsburg University’s Vice President of Administration and Finance. He says student tuition covers about 80 percent of the University’s operating costs.

He explains, “we pretty much have flat enrollment.”

Long says revenue is increasing about three percent annually, while costs are growing by almost twice that number. He adds, a bulk of expenditures pay for staff. A majority are protected by collective bargaining agreements.

“It’s not just their salaries. It’s salaries, benefits, retirement,” Long says.

Long says in a $150 million-dollar budget, ESU needs to fill a $2 to $4 million-dollar deficit.

“It’s concerning because we need to make sure we have a plan,” Long adds.

The University is exploring eliminating vacant jobs, and consolidating student programs or certain majors.

“We have plans to graduate within a certain amount of time, so if they consolidate these majors is that going to affect when we graduate?” wonders Marcus Howard, Senior.

ESU planned to replace its current library with a new building closer to the heart of campus. But with these financial worries, that $40 million-dollar proposed project is now cancelled.

“The library isn’t that far, but they made it seem like this plan was going to be going forward,” Howard says.

Long says layoffs are not currently in the plan.

He adds, “it’s not just ESU that’s in this picture. We’re actually in probably better shape than most schools in the state because we do have a reserve.”

ESU is also creating a task force of internal and external professionals to develop creative solutions.