Cal U. to use reserve fund to erase $1.7 million deficit

June 16, 2017
Annette Ganassi

CALIFORNIA – California University of Pennsylvania will erase a $1.7 million deficit this term by drawing that amount from its reserve fund.

The deficit spending was blamed, in part, by university officials on increases in payroll for union contracts. The drawdown will leave $8.6 million in the reserve account, Cal U. spokeswoman Christine Kindl said.

The good news, according to Cal U. President Geraldine M. Jones, is that early enrollment numbers indicate the freshman class size will increase in the 2017-18 term.

“As you all know, there are still challenges ahead,” Jones said Wednesday at a Cal U. Council of Trustees meeting.

The meeting began with a reorganization of the board, which led to the appointment of Annette Ganassi as chairwoman and Jim Davis as vice chairman. Ganassi, of Champion, Westmoreland County, is a Realtor with the Ligonier office of Howard Hanna. She has been a Cal U. trustee since 2009, and she previously served on the board from 1994-2000. Davis is an attorney in Uniontown.

Ganassi replaces Washington County Commission Chairman Larry Maggi, who served for more than four years as chairman.

In other business, the trustees approved the replacement this summer of the roof on Old Main at a cost of more than $500,000.

The roof repair work is considered urgent, said Robert Thorn, vice president of administration and finance at Cal U.

“It’s a very complex roof,” Thorn said.

Barbara Hess, president of the faculty union at the university, approached the trustees seeking information about a layoff notice the professors have received.

“We’ve been told all of the programs are being evaluated,” Hess said.

She said union has not received much else as far as information regarding the entrenchment notice.

“We can’t help if we don’t have information,” she said.

The trustees did not respond to her.

The university is among five in the state System of Higher Education to warn that faculty layoffs are on the table. Cal U.’s notice sets the possible date at the end of the next term.

Cal U. employs 391 union professors.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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