Slippery Rock University's president, Cheryl Norton, told the campus Thursday that, like its peers across the State System of Higher Education, her school faces declining enrollment, lower state aid and rising costs.
All of which, she added, have collectively put the school in uncharted waters.
"The perfect financial storm is upon us, a storm we have not experienced before," she said during a State of the University address in the Robert M. Smith Student Center ballroom.
But before deciding where to make cuts to plug a $5.2 million shortfall in this year's budget, she said she wants input from the campus about how to effect savings and tap potential new revenue sources.
Slippery Rock, a school of about 8,600 students, is bracing for an enrollment loss of 3.2 percent this fall, university officials said. It is expected that freshman enrollment will be off by 8 percent.
Ms. Norton did not rule out faculty or other staff reductions, though the school has made none yet, officials said. Two other Western Pennsylvania State System schools, Clarion and Edinboro universities, collectively are recommending nearly 100 job cuts -- including up to 64 faculty -- to address enrollment declines and budget shortfalls on their campuses.
Ms. Norton said if the university were to take no action, Slippery Rock's projected deficit for 2014-15 would be $10 million based on preliminary assumptions; for 2015-16 it could be $13.5 million; and over three years, it could cumulatively reach $28.9 million.
Bill Schackner: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.