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Budget will cushion academics

(02/24/92 10:00am)

The University plans to cushion academics when writing a budget to account for the proposed loss of over $37 million in state funding, administrators said Friday. But Budget Director Stephen Golding said he expects the University to plan a multi-year budget to accomodate the possible shortfall. "Academics is the highest priority," Golding said. "It is the core of the University which we must preserve." Golding added the budget will resemble last March's plans for wide-ranging cutbacks. The University's planned budget cuts responded to the governor's proposed halving of the University's state appropriations. Last year, the University planned to run a multi-million dollar deficit, cut 300 faculty and staff positions and postpone almost all building projects that were not already underway. But after heavy lobbying, the University secured state funding equal to the prior year, $37.6 million. Last year's proposal was also designed to preserve academics, administrators said. But administrators noted Friday that cuts into every area of the University indirectly affect the academic mission. Earlier this month, Gov. Robert Casey proposed eliminating the University's state funding, ignoring the University's request for $41.2 million. The General Assembly will now debate and revise the governor's proposal before returning it to Casey for his signature. Golding said he expects the budget plan will be a multi-year system in order to reduce the blow to the University of an immediate $37 million loss. "But it's the same issues on the table again this year," Golding said. "And it is not just taking out $37 million this year that is hard; it's [also the possibility of] not getting the money in the future, either." He declined to specify any further details of the budget. John Gould, executive director of the president's office, also said Friday the inability to rely on state funding in the future may complicate the University's budgeting process. "[Casey's announcement] seems to be a statement of philosophy," Gould said. "We will really have to tighten the belt." Casey said in his budget proposal the state should stop funding private schools, pointing to three other states which he said do not fund their Ivy League universities. However, two states of the three -- New York and New Jersey -- did fund schools.

Boo Hoo! Few high tech flus to attack computers at U.

(02/21/92 10:00am)

Flu season may be over, but several new viruses may have hit campus and those afflicted will not know until March. Three computer viruses detected throughout the Philadelphia area are programmed to destroy floppy and hard disk drives on IBM computers and IBM-compatibles. "For the first time there is a real legitimate [threat of viruses] here," Caroline Ferguson, the anti-virus coordinator at the Computing Resource Center, said last night. "We have already detected a few isolated cases." The viruses -- named Michaelangelo, Jerusalem and Maltese Amoeba -- are programmed to trigger themselves on March 6, 13 and 15 repectively. The Jerusalem virus is also known as the Friday the 13th virus. "When the viruses trigger, they render the floppies and hard disks useless," said Don Montabana, user services manager at the Computing Resource Center. "Michaelangelo and Maltese Amoeba are some of the most destructive we've seen." But unlike many other viruses, they will not warn the computer user it is ready to begin destroying the hard drive and floppy disks. "It does not give you any kind of message like 'Ha-ha I'm going to get you,' " Ferguson said. "Most other viruses give you some kind of warning or notice." The viruses do not affect Macintosh computers, according to Montabana. Montabana said anyone with a valid PennCard can get innoculated free of charge by bringing a blank disk to the resource center. The center will then make a free copy of the anti-viral software called Vi-Spy version 8.0. Computers are frequently infected by viruses when users exchange floppy disks or use a modem to access bulletin-board services.

U. to announce budget plans

(02/21/92 10:00am)

Provost Michael Aiken said yesterday that by "the middle of next week" he will publicly discuss plans on how the University will deal with Gov. Robert Casey's proposed elimination of all state funding to the University. Earlier this month, Casey's proposed executive budget ignored the University's request for $41.2 million and instead cut all state funding beginning in July -- a proposal that leaves the University with a $37 million shortfall. The state legislature will debate and revise the budget before returning it to Casey for his signature later this spring. University lobbyist James Shada said last night that the University is currently discussing the budget situation with state legislators. "We have gotten some encouragement from leaders," Shada said. "But no one at this time knows where the money is going to come from." Shada and Executive Vice President Marna Whittington said last night that the budget is very tight and that it is too early to predict exactly how much, if any, of the funding legislators will appropriate to the University. "We're still digesting the budget," Shada said. "It takes a long time to swallow the thing." "These are difficult times financially," Whittington added. "There are a lot of demands on the budget." President Sheldon Hackney has received a letter from 20 local state representatives who say they will not help the University secure state funding unless administrators agree to settle a controversial lawsuit demanding more scholarships be given to needy Philadelphia high school students. "We are addressing that issue," Shada said. "We will be talking to [state legislators] about this as the case develops." Shada said that state legislators have been most receptive to the Veterinary School's fiscal crisis. The Vet School receives 40 percent of its budget from the state. "I guess we've had the most positive response on the Vet School," Shada said. "[The state legislators] like to be helpful, but they are just not sure where the money is coming from." Last year, the governor proposed halving the University's appropriation, a loss of $18.6 million. The University proposed cutting at least 300 faculty and staff positions and postponing almost all building projects not yet underway to cushion the fiscal blow. The University also proposed running a multi-million dollar deficit.

City lawyer contends suit is unfounded

(02/19/92 10:00am)

The city's chief legal advisor has agreed with the University's stance on the controversial Mayor's Scholarship program, saying the lawsuit challenging it is unfounded. And a cover letter attached to Acting City Solicitor Judith Harris's opinion written by Mayor Edward Rendell's chief of staff David Cohen states the city will not join the group suing the University. University administrators said last night they were pleased with the city's stance. "It is what we felt all along, [that] our position is the correct one," President Sheldon Hackney said last night. "I think this should resolve the doubts that anyone in the public or City Council had about our position." "We're very happy with the opinion," Associate General Counsel Debra Fickler added last night. "I believe it supports the University's position and we are pleased to have the City Solicitor's support." Harris examined the issue for the city at the request of City Council President John Street. Her opinion, dated February 5, refutes allegations that the University has not complied with a 1977 city ordinance requiring it to provide scholarships to needy Philadelphia high school students. The lawsuit alleges that the ordinance requires the University to give out 125 new four-year scholarships annually, for a total of 500 at any given time. The University has maintained it should provide 125 scholarships total at any one time. Harris agreed with the University's stance that the number of scholarships is based on a historical reading of a series of city agreements which date back to the 19th century. She also said testimony regarding the ordinance in 1977 City Council hearings and subsequent behavior by the University and the city do not support the lawsuit. "[T]he University has maintained Mayor's Scholarships in accordance with its understanding of the 1977 ordinance from the beginning," Harris's opinion states. "I believe the City's acquiescence to that interpretation from the inception of the 1977 ordinance is evidence that the parties never intended the 1977 ordinance to quadruple the University's obligations." Harris also drafted an amended copy of the ordinance which she said would eliminate uncertainty. It is unclear when this ordinance would be introduced at City Council. But lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center, who filed the class action suit in Common Pleas Court in October, said that the statement does not change their case. PILCOP attorney Michael Churchill said yesterday that a brief which he filed in court yesterday afternoon objecting to the University's motion to throw out the case provides evidence that their position is accurate. "I think our brief sufficiently answers the questions," Churchill said last night. "It is hard to know how to take [Harris'] opinion." Churchill said Harris's interpretation of the ordinance would only be valid if it did not contain the word "annual" in it. He added Harris's amended draft of the ordinance would do just that.

Local law center files brief opposing U.

(02/19/92 10:00am)

A local law center challenging the University's Mayor's Scholarship Program filed a brief in Common Pleas Court yesterday disputing several points in the University's request to throw out the suit. In documents filed in court, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia contends that the University's objections to the original lawsuit are inaccurate. PILCOP has spearheaded a class action lawsuit against the University alleging it has not complied with a 1977 city ordinance requiring the University to provide scholarships to needy Philadelphia high school students. The plantiffs -- including three University organizations, Philadelphia residents and local labor unions -- claim the University must provide 125 new four-year scholarships annually, for a total of 500 at any given time. The University has maintained that it should provide 125 scholarships total at any one time. University lawyers filed a brief last month quoting City Council testimony from 1977 which they say indicates that it was clear in City Council that the University was only going to provide a total of 125 scholarships. The brief supporting the University quoted Harold Manley, then the University treasurer, saying the University's total committment for the 1978 scholarships would be "slightly in excess of a half million dollars." PILCOP said in yesterday's brief that Manley's statement does not help the University's claim and may support the law center's claim since in 1978 -- the first year of scholarships after the 1977 ordinance -- the University would only be paying for one class's scholarships. PILCOP's brief states that the Ordinance provided for phasing in the ordinance over four years. "Thus, in the first year after the Ordinance, when 125 first-year students are to receive the first year of their four-year scholarships, the value of the scholarships (125 times the tuition of $4,000) is of course $500,000," yesterday's filing reads. "Mr. Manley's statement, therefore, is completely consistent with the Ordinance's clear language." Other refutations of the University's stance include: · The University's preliminary objections specified that the organizations could not sue. But PILCOP's filing states the University's lawyers must have misread the complaint since it states that the individuals are representatives of the class in a class-action suit while the organizations are only additional plantiffs. "This is clear on the face of the complaint," PILCOP's filing reads. "Unaccountably, [the University] misreads (or purports to misread) the plain language of the complaint itself." · PILCOP also refuted the University's contention that it would never have agreed to increasing their scholarship obligation four-fold. "[The University] says no sane predecessor would have 'quadrupled' their scholarship obligation to Philadelphia school children merely to secure an immediate cash infusion of $12 million," the filing reads. "But the most casual observer would remember that in August 1977, the University of Pennsylvania was in extremis financially." The filing notes that the state legislature adjourned without appropriating any money to the University that year, which added to the school's fiscal crises. · PILCOP also stated the University's contention that the ordinance is inconsistent and poorly drafted is not true. The University contended that the preamble contradicts the main body of the ordinance. "This is not true," PILCOP attorney Tom Gilhool said yesterday. "Our reading complies with the entire ordinance." University Associate General Counsel Debra Fickler said she could not comment on the filing since she had not read it yet.

Officials will not bend to reps' pressure

(02/18/92 10:00am)

Officials: Will not bend The University will not change its stance on a controversial scholarship lawsuit despite letters from state representatives threatening to tie the suit to state funding, one of the University's attorneys said yesterday. "We're not changing our strategy because of those letters," said Associate General Counsel Debra Fickler. "We are not connecting the two at all. We're proceeding on the case." State representatives from Philadelphia's delegation wrote two letters to President Sheldon Hackney recently saying they would not work to retain the University's state funding unless an agreement is reached on the scholarship suit. They claimed they have been pressed by their constituents to consider the lawsuit in the upcoming budget struggle. The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia filed suit in Common Pleas Court in October, charging the University has not complied with a 1977 city ordinance requiring the University to provide scholarships to needy Philadelphia high school students. One of the letters was signed by 20 state representatives -- including powerful state House Appropriations Committee chairperson Dwight Evans (D-Phila.) -- and may place another burden on the University's struggle to retain state funding. The University's attorneys argue the disputed city ordinance must be considered in the context of history, which they contend supports their position. Fickler added the University is proceeding as usual on the suit and that it is not certain how long the litigation could last. She noted the judge has not ruled on the University's November motion to throw out the case. The University also issued a written statement yesterday stating the University is working with City Council leadership and other city leaders to resolve the issues surrounding the convoluted Mayor's Scholarship lawsuit. It also said the University is working to more effectively communicate the program to the community. The statement does not directly mention the two letters, but University spokesperson Carol Farnsworth said it was released to answer questions that had arisen in light of the letters. It is still unclear how the letters may affect the University's lobbying strategy in Harrisburg. Assistant Vice President for Commonwealth Relations James Shada was not available for comment. The state legislators are the University only remaining resort to retain the University's funding since the General Assembley revises the governor's executive budget proposal before it is implemented. Gov. Robert Casey proposed earlier this month eliminating the University's appropriations, which this year amount to just over $37 million. PILCOP has alleged the ordinance requires the University to give out 125 new four-year scholarships annually, for a total of 500 at any given time. The University has maintained it should provide 125 scholarships total at any one time. The University began the scholarship program to comply with a series of agreements with the city which date back to the 19th century. In exchange for the scholarships, the University received nearly 47 acres of land where the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Quadrangle now stand. (CUT LINE) Please see RESPONSE, page 2 RESPONSE, from page 1

State reps tie U. funding to scholarships

(02/17/92 10:00am)

A group of state representatives has threatened not to help the University retain state funding this year due to its alleged failure to provide adequate scholarships for Philadelphia high school students. The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia filed suit in Common Pleas Court in October, charging the University has not complied with a 1977 city ordinance requiring the University to provide scholarships to needy Philadelphia high school students. In a letter addressed to President Sheldon Hackney and Board of Trustees chairperson Alvin Shoemaker, legislators questioned the University stance on the controversial scholarship suit and for the first time, tied the issue to Commonwealth funding. The letter was signed by 20 members of the Philadelphia delegation -- including powerful state House Appropriations Committee chairperson Dwight Evans (D-Phila.) -- and may place another burden on the University's struggle to retain its state funding. In addition, one state representative whose district includes part of the University sent an additional letter to Hackney Friday saying he will not support the University's appropriation for general instruction. But Harold James (D-Phila.) said that he would support the University's request for appropriations for the Veterinary School, Dental School and Medical Schools, since they provide an important public service. Casey proposed cutting the University from the state budget starting this July. The current year's state appropriation tops $37 million. The legislators' letter is dated January 27 -- over a week before Gov. Robert Casey proposed eliminating the University's state funding. The state legislators are the University's only hope to retain state funding since the General Assembly can modify the governor's proposal before it is implemented. Legislators said in their letter that they were pushed by the constituents to reconsider the University's state funding in light of the current Mayor's Scholarship lawsuit. "The issues raised are being widely discussed by the families and teachers and principals in our districts and have been constantly pressed upon us," the letter states. "If . . . the University does not take serious steps to increase Philadelphia student participation to at least the level the 1977 Ordinance speaks of, it will be very difficult for us to maintain our support for substantial public monies to the University in the coming budget year," the letter states. James was more definite in his opposition to supporting the University's state appropriation. He said last night he had reviewed information on both sides of the controversial lawsuit and has spoken with his constituency on the issue. "Unless there is some agreement I'm not going to help restore [the University's state funds]," James said. "I'm going to talk to my colleagues to see if they will do the same." PILCOP has alleged the ordinance requires the University to give out 125 new four-year scholarships annually, for a total of 500 at any given time. The University has stated it should provide 125 scholarships total at any one time. Hackney said last night that the University maintains its position that the ordinance intended for 125 scholarships at a time. He added the University is working with City Coucil to solve the dispute. "We are working hard to resolve this issue," Hackney said. "We still feel confident our position is the correct path: we owe 125 scholarships, and have made sufficient contribution to the city of Philadelphia." Hackney said the issues should be treated separately, even though he understands the legislators' frustrations with the current situation. He added the legal dispute needs more time to resolve itself. "It's not a happy situation," Hackney said. "James has been a big friend of the University and a parent of a University graduate. He's someone we think of as a friend and when he gets nervous about our position it makes us worry." The University began the scholarship program to comply with a series of agreements with the city which date back to the 19th century. In exchange for the scholarships, the University received nearly 47 acres of land where the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Quadrangle now stand.

Casey: Give U. nothing -- Budget ignores U. request for $41.2 million

(02/06/92 10:00am)

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Robert Casey yesterday proposed slashing all state funding to the University in a deadening blow that could cost the University over $37 million. Casey's proposal is part of a $118 million reduction to higher education which specifically recommends eliminating aid to all private universities and colleges. "There's no way to sugarcoat it: New York doesn't pay to operate Columbia. New Jersey doesn't pay for Princeton. Massachusetts doesn't pay for Harvard," Casey said to the applause of some lawmakers. "So with this budget, Pennsylvania's getting out of the business of paying for private colleges and institutions." Casey promised in his executive budget that he would not increase taxes, instead focusing on "downsizing" education and human services to balance the budget. "Simply stated, the non-state related schools' funding has been eliminated," said Michael Hershock, the governor's budget director. This year, the University requested nearly $41.2 million, a 9.5 percent increase over last year's allocation of $37.6 million, which required heavy lobbying to secure. Last year, Casey proposed halving the University's funding, a cut of $18 million. But unlike last year, Hershock said institutions should not expect to recover proposed cuts. In fact, he said some institutions should even expect worse cuts. "I can not say this is the worst case scenario, [that] this is the most likely," Hershock said. "There are [outlooks] that show much deeper cuts." Casey allocated no money for each University line item that usually receives money: general instruction, the Veterinary School, the dental clinics, medical programs and the New Bolton Center. Casey also allocated no money to the Morris Arboretum, which is managed by the University, while he recommended the University Museum receive $176,000. Casey's proposal specifically eliminates funding to all non-state related universities and colleges which include Drexel University, Hahnemann Medical College and Thomas Jefferson University. And the budget proposal recommends a three-and-one-half percent reduction in the appropriations for the four state-related universities: Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University. This reduction is also recommended for schools in the State System of Higher Education, which include Cheyney State College and Millersville College, among others. "Our public universities and institutions must come first," Casey said. "We only have enough money to take care of the public's own." If the legislature approves Casey's budget, the state would save a total of $118 million. Casey's proposal, if passed, would sever a centuries-old relationship between the state and the University dating back to the Act of September 30, 1791. The act gave the University its present name and designated the governor as president ex-officio of the Board of Trustees. The state of Pennsylvania periodically granted the University money until 1903. Since then, the legislature always has included an annual appropriation, which the University has built into its budget. Casey's proposal is the first phase of a complex budget process that is expected to be completed this spring. Legislators will now begin to research the specifics of the budget and to bargain on their constituencies' behalf. The lawmakers will then work in conjunction with the governor to devise a budget that can pass the legislative branch and will not be vetoed by the governor. "All levels of government and all institutions, including higher education, must adopt the same discipline," Casey said. "Economize. Downsize. And eliminate all unnecessary expenditures." Other highlights of Casey's budget include reducing the amount of medical assistance provided by the state and giving law enforcement agencies more firepower "so they won't be outgunned by the drug dealers." The budget proposal also provides for bringing 6,600 new prison cells on line. "I built this budget on choices. Stark choices. Difficult choices," Casey said. "I have made the choices to protect us from a future that piles deficit upon deficit. Choices which put us in charge of our destiny."

Lawmakers give little hope for U. funding

(02/06/92 10:00am)

HARRISBURG -- State lawmakers, who may be the University's only chance to retain the University's state appropriation, provided little encouragement yesterday. Gov. Robert Casey's proposal to cut the University's state appropriation is now in the hands of the legislators, who will negotiate with Casey to devise the final budget. While Casey's budget proposal blatantly placed the University out of the state's priorities, it is unclear if a political party or legislative faction will back the University as they have in years past. Casey proposed yesterday to cut all state funding to a dozen private Philadelphia-area colleges and universities that traditionally received state appropriations. The University had requested $41.2 million from the state after being awarded over $37 million from it this year. Senate Appropriations Committee chairperson Richard Tilghman (R-Montgomery) is worried about the University's tenuous fiscal condition, said Robert Bittenbadden, the committee's executive director. "We are very concerned about the University of Pennsylvania," Bittenbadden said yesterday. "The governor's proposed budget essentially abdicates the state's . . . role for education." And Sen. Vincent Fumo (D-Phila.) said yesterday the governor's proposal to cut higher education may harm the state's economy. Fumo, whose son is a 1991 University graduate, said if the state cuts money to private universities and colleges, the school's administrators will then fire workers who in turn will not be spending as much money. "It's the multiplier effect," Fumo said. "It could further fuel the recession." But others in Harrisburg were not as sympathetic to the University's condition. Donald Carroll, the state's secretary of education, said yesterday although the University has always received at least the same amount of funding as the year before, this year the money is not available. "I can tell you from history -- every year I see the money restored to level funding . . . [if] restored to level funding everyone has to understand someone else's ox gets gored," Carroll said. "You can't buy the Mercedes and the sauna if you don't have the money." If Casey's proposal is enacted, it will terminate a centuries-old relationship between the state and the University. The University received its first state appropriation from the state in the early 19th century and has been receiving state funding every year since 1903.

Feds and U. to discuss radioactive waste control

(02/03/92 10:00am)

The University is scheduled to meet tomorrow with representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss ways to improve the control and storage of radioactive waste. The meeting is part of a routine review of local institutions, University officials said yesterday. "This is not the result of any infraction," Mark Selikson, University director of radiation safety, said Friday. "There's a national review by NRC." Selikson said the three national facilities which receive the University's radioactive waste will be closed in January 1993 and it is unclear what will happen to the waste until another option becomes available. Currently, the University packages and labels the waste in a campus facility. A licensed commercial hauler then takes the waste to a facility where it may be supercompacted to reduce the volume. It is subsequently brought to a waste site in either Nevada, North Carolina or Washington state. The NRC wants to review the holding facilities of many institutions since it is unclear what will happen to the waste when the sites close next year. "It's up in the air for everybody now," Selikson said. "That is why the NRC is reviewing policies and procedures -- it's going to be a much larger issue than it was in the past." NRC spokesperson Karl Abraham cautioned Friday that this review is not due to any leakage or problem. He declined to comment further. "We'll develop a consensus of what the standard facility should look like," Selikson said. "Hopefully, the University of Pennsylvania is not far from it -- we'll know what everybody in the industry should look like." Matt Finucane, director of the environmental health and safety office, said Friday he believes the meeting with the NRC will show the University's facilites are fine. "We're pretty confident of the program that we have in place now," Selikson said. "We'll see whether some modifications are appropriate." The University produces radioactive waste in the thousands of cubic feet, Selikson said, noting that that is usual for an institution the size of the University. Much of the University's waste comes from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the Medical School, the Dental School and the Chemistry department.

U. to sign government agreement to set research rates

(02/03/92 10:00am)

University administrators said they hope to sign an agreement with a federal agency within a month to determine how much money the University will receive from the federal government for the administrative costs associated with research. The University is currently negotiating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to settle on an indirect research overhead rate, which amounts to millions of dollars for the University every year. University Vice President for Finance Selimo Rael said Friday that he does not expect the new rate, which will take effect in July, to vary significantly from the current 65 percent, which expires on June 30. "We are in negotiations with Health and Human Services negotiators and we are very close to resolving our rate, but have not yet completed that process," Rael said. "I don't expect substantial change from our current rate." The University's current rate was determined through HHS negotiations in 1987. Last year, a U.S. Congressional subcommittee revealed the University's overhead rate was too high because it included "questionable costs." These costs included expenditures for alumni relations, fundraising activities, entertainment, chaplain activities and public relations. The government has not claimed that the University misspent any money recovered as indirect research costs. They have simply claimed that the amount the University received was too high because it was based on faulty figures. The government has not audited the University's spending between 1988 and 1992, relying instead on the rate proposal using 1987 figures. How the University actually spent the federal overhead money from '88 to '92 was outside the scope of HHS. Ultimately, the University repaid HHS over $930,000 in improper overhead charges. The reimbursement amounted to less than one-half of one percent of the $219 million in federal research overhead payments the University received for the last five years. But Rael said that HHS did not go into the current rate negotiations looking to "punish" the University for past misspending. It is unclear for how many years the new rate will apply. Since fiscal year 1988 the University has charged the government a 65 percent overhead rate on every research grant to cover indirect costs. This means that for every $100 a researcher receives, the University receives an additional $65 for the use of buildings, maintaining research projects and the administrative costs associated with research projects. Rael said in November that the University would seek a new overall rate of 65.9 percent. The Philadelphia Inquirer incorrectly reported Thursday that the University will receive $10 million less from HHS for past overbilling. The writer said Friday she had used a federal document titled "Recap of DCA Negotiations of 14 -- SCRUB -- Schools," as her source. But the document does not say that the University will receive $10 million less this year. Rather, it states that in 1987 the University tried to negotiate for a 77.7 percent rate with the government and settled at the current 65 percent -- resulting in a savings of $10 million for the federal government. "That [Inquirer] article is incorrect," Rael said. "The University has not been reduced by ten million by HHS. That is simply not correct." Rael, who was not at the University in 1987, also said Friday that he is not aware that the University ever proposed a 77.7 percent rate. HHS Spokesperson John Gibbons confirmed Friday that the federal document used by the Inquirer does not indicate that the University will receive less money from HHS. He also said that 77.7 percent was the rate initially proposed by the University in 1987.

TAs receive $470 increase for next year

(01/30/92 10:00am)

and SHELLEY TABOR University officials said yesterday they will pay teaching assistants over $400 more next year, prompting cautious praise from graduate students who claim the stipend is still inadequate. Starting in the fall, School of Arts and Sciences teaching assistants will receive a $9000 stipend, an increase of $470 from the current year's $8530 award. Teaching assistants also receive full tuition and general fee. "The stipend is pretty standard," Susan Garfinkel, graduate and professional student association vice chairperson for policy said last night. "It would be great if it was higher." Garfinkel said she was concerned that the stipend increase would be off-set by expected increases in the cost of health insurance. "It's ridiculous how much money we have to pay for [health insurance] and other fees," Garfinkel said. The new stipend will be an increase of five-and-one-half percent over last year's award, while last year's was an increase of four percent over the 1989-1990 academic year. "It's an increase in the rate of increase from last year," Donald Fitts, SAS associate dean for graduate studies said yesterday. But graduate students noted that two years ago they had asked for an increase to $10,000 by the 1992-1993 academic year. Yesterday's announcement falls $1000 short of this goal. "It's less than our resolution [called for] and the increase is less than the cost of living," Graduate Student Activities Council Treasurer Michael Polgar said. "But it's more than we received last year -- in percent increase and in absolute numbers." Fred Trezy, GSAC vice president of social activities, also said yesterday that the University increase should be higher to meet cost of living increases. "Of course it's good that they increased the stipend, but the University should make more of an effort to keep pace with the cost of living," Trezy said. "Graduate students are having enough difficulty as it is meeting their expenses." Polgar noted that after taxes and health insurance, a teaching assistant's monthly pay is not sufficient to match costs. "If you live in Graduate Towers, have to pay meal plan, buy books and supplies, its not enough -- it would easily exceed that monthly allowance," Polgar said. "Some departments supplement them to be competitive on a national level." Historically, the University has given teaching assistants a low stipend when evaluated on a national scale, Polgar added. But in the past few years the Univeristy has moved into "the average range."

U. states impact of $2.5 billion locally

(01/29/92 10:00am)

The University "delivers a one-two punch" of $2.5 billion to the state's economy, according to a report released yesterday, just one week before the governor announces whether he intends to cut state appropriations. The independent study, which began in fall 1990, examines the University's economic role on a city, regional and state level and will be distributed to Philadelphia leaders and Harrisburg legislators, administrators said yesterday. Administrators said they were pleased to discover the University had such a large impact on the region's and state's financial well-being. "[The study] is a little bit sobering to us," Executive Vice President Marna Whittington said yesterday. The audit, which studies the 1990 fiscal year, generated a few revealing statistics, including a determination that students have $16 million invested in local banks. The study also showed that every million dollars invested in the University creates 50 jobs. The boxing-glove logo splashed across the report may bode for upcoming struggles. Not only might the University lose state funding due to the state's own worsening fiscal picture, but the city may impose heavy non-tax payments for basic services. Whittington also said yesterday she can accept paying user fees on water and trash dumping, as any normal consumer would, but does not agree with paying set amounts that cannot be attributable to a service. "As a University we should not get a discount on user fees," Whittington said. "We should pay what the consumer is paying . . . But I do oppose payment in lieu of taxes." The University is currently exempt from paying user fees for both its water and University-hauled trash dumped in city facilities, which amounts to less than one-half of the garbage. In addition to losing its local tax breaks, the University may also face a battle to retain all of its $37 million in state funding. Last year, Governor Robert Casey proposed slashing the funding nearly in half. After heavy lobbying by the University, it received the same amount of money as the year previously. Whittington said the audit, conducted by Coopers and Lybrand, was not designed to generate numbers displaying the University in a positive light, but to produce accurate data. The $2.5 billion figure is determined by what economists call the "ripple effect." It is calculated by taking the amount the University spends and multiplying it by a factor that accounts for multiple spendings of the money. "In other words if we pay a construction company, they pay their workers who then shop at a local grocery store," Associate Treasurer Bob Helfman said. "It trickles down." The University has nearly 20,000 employees, while student and visitor economic activity generates an additional 24,000 "spin-off" jobs in Pennsylvania, the report also concluded. The report also explains how groups such as employees, visitors, students and alumni "pump up" the state and city economy. The University's faculty and staff spend nearly $280 million in Pennsylvania, $190 million of which is spent in Philadelphia alone, according to Coopers and Lybrand. Full-time students spend $72 million annually in Pennsylvania, the report also states. The survey also found the University attracts more than 277,000 out-of-town visitors each year who spend nearly $25 million. The report also concluded that 630 businesses headquartered in the Commonwealth were founded by University alumni.

U. impact report to be made public

(01/28/92 10:00am)

Executive Vice President Marna Whittington will detail the University's financial effects on the state tomorrow when she delivers a summary of the results of Penn's Economic Impact Study. The hour-long presentation will address several topics, including the degree of the University's financial impact on Philadelphia and the surrounding five-county region and the total amount of money generated by the University and its visitors. The session will also address the impact of the University's spending on the state's economy. Whittington could not be reached for comment last night. The release of the report comes shortly after repeated statements from administrators saying they are worried about retaining past levels of state funding and remaining exempt from certain local taxes. In past years, administrators have argued that state appropriations and tax breaks from Philadelphia are justified because of the University's contribution to the welfare of both the region and the state. For instance, the University and other non-profit educational institutions do not pay property taxes on most buildings because of a state statute, and the University does not currently pay for basic services such as sanitation and police and fire protection. But last year's report said the University provides benefits to Pennsylvania by providing uncompensated dental and health care as well as aid to citizens of Philadelphia through various University-affiliated volunteer programs. Preliminary figures from last year's report compiled by Coopers and Lybrand's Higher Education Consulting Service claim the University and its affiliates generate $2 billion in direct and indirect income for the state. Mayor Edward Rendell said during his election campaign he would consider charging the University user fees -- non-tax payments for basic services -- but did not specify a monetary amount. In addition, all drafts of the city's five-year financial plan include asking the city to pay user fees. The Dental School provides approximately $250,000 in uncompensated care to its patrons, 5200 of whom cannot even pay the reduced rates offered by the school, the report stated. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania loses $35 million each year in unpaid medical bills for services provided to community members, President Sheldon Hackney said last year.

Revlon design to be made public

(01/23/92 10:00am)

The campus center building committee will present the plans for the Revlon Center next month for University-wide feedback before final drawings are completed in March, administrators said yesterday. The campus center, which will be built on the parking lot on Walnut Street between 36th and 37th streets, will be completed by June 1995 at the latest and should cost between $50 and $60 million, Executive Vice President Marna Whittington said last night. "We are designing a center that will serve the community and then figuring out how to fund it," Whittington said. "If we did it the other way, [the quality of] the center would come up short." For the past several months, the Revlon Center's building committee has been discussing how various spaces in the campus center will be used. However, they have not yet allocated spaces to specific groups. University administrators said they hope to break ground in a year and will spend 18 to 24 months building the center. The Revlon Center will be designed to be user-friendly for students and architectually open and airy, Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson said yesterday. "You should be able to see other activity in the building, but you would not be disturbed by it," Morrisson said. "Some of the facility will be accessible 24 hours a day." The campus center will be divided into two main areas -- a multi-story cylinder with several wings including a low-level arm and a multi-story building across the street from the Mellon Bank Building. The area between the two structures will be grassy and available for students to lounge. The plans for the campus center have changed little since the architectural firm Kohn, Pederson and Fox presented them one year ago. However, the plans for the Book Store have been modified so that the store is entirely above ground. Initially, architects proposed putting the Book Store underground, but Morrisson said the basement arcade would be too difficult to maintain. "The Book Store will have the identity of a bookstore by separating the books and the retail," Morrisson said. "You will enter it from the main entrance." Morrisson and Whittington said there would be several restaurants throughout the complex, a 24-hour study area served by a restaurant, a browsing library and a music listening center. "By having University-run restaurants they could serve the community better," Whittington said. "If a student wanted to eat a Tastycake, a cup of coffee and study for an hour and a half they could -- the owner shouldn't have to worry about turning over the table." Under the current plan, the center will also contain an art gallery, auditorium and a black box theater -- a student performing space that can accomodate many types of performing arts activities. Morrisson added that the Women's Center, a Health Education Unit and Student Life Programs will all be in the center.

HUP profits up $1 mil. over FY 91

(01/22/92 10:00am)

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania earned $1 million more in the first four months of this fiscal year than it did last year in the same period. HUP Executive Director and Medical Center Vice President Bud Pittinger said last night that the money will be reinvested into the hospital to improve facilities. "We are obviously delighted to have the capital to address some absolute requirements that we have, both in the hospital and the School of Medicine," Pittinger said. "But it's just a drop in the bucket." The first third of a fiscal year runs from July through October. In FY 1991, HUP garnered $7.4 million while this year it earned $8.4 million. Data was not available for earlier years. HUP Chief Financial Officer John Wynne noted last night that the hospital, a non-profit institution, will put the money back into the Medical Center. "You have to understand that the hospital is not making profits and squirreling it away," Wynne said. "The money is reinvested in the Medical Center." Pittinger said the Medical Center, which unites HUP and the Medical School, will direct the increased net revenue towards many projects, including modernizing the hospital, deferred maintenance and construction of Biomedical Research Building One -- a new research building that will be constructed near Blockley Hall. Pittinger attributed the marked increase as a result of many factors including increased patient admissions. "Admissions have gone up over the past few years thanks to our clinical faculty here in the Medical Center," he said. "Hospital administrators don't admit patients, physicians do." Pittinger also noted that medical malpractice costs were lower during this period and that a recent federal court settlement has helped the Medical Center recover more money from the State of Pennsylvania when caring for Medicaid patients. Both Pittinger and Wynne added that William Kelley, the chief executive officer of the Medical Center and the Medical School dean, has significantly helped to increase revenues. Kelley's leadership in uniting the various departments since he arrived in October 1989 greatly attributed to the financial success of the medical center, Pittinger added. "Normally, medical centers like ours always have dissension among the hospital, the medical school and the clinical practices -- always fighting each other and not working in a common direction," Wynne said. "[Kelley] has set a culture in place where that is not permitted -- other places are decisive within themselves, but he won't allow it."

Turf may replace grass on Hill Field

(01/21/92 10:00am)

University officials said yesterday they may resurface Hill Field with astroturf as one way to improve recreational fields at the University. Arthur Gravina, vice president for facilities management, said last week that for the next six months the University will be examining several options for developing the University's playing fields, including resurfacing Hill Field and developing land on the eastern side of the Schuylkill River. Gravina noted, however, that University officials have not determined if the project is financially feasible. He also said the project has not been prioritized. "With regards to Hill Field, we are looking into both artificial and natural turf, if we decide to do anything," Gravina said. "We are looking at many options." Hill Field is located next to the Hill House Dormitory Building on 34th Street and is frequently used by intramural sports teams. The University is also looking at 14 to 17 acres of land across the Schuylkill River from the University. This land, leased to the University by the DuPont Chemical Company, is currently undeveloped and is not being used. Assistant Recreation Director John Hamrick said last night that he would ideally like to see lights and artificial turf on Hill Field. "From a facilities standpoint artificial turf is better," Hamrick said. "Maintenance is minimal and it lasts longer -- you can see the condition of Hill Field." Hamrick also said that lights would be an important advantage since many of the fall season games begin at dusk and are forced to be played with little light. Hamrick said he hopes the University will consider establishing a shuttle system or escort service to bring students to the DuPont land if it is developed. Though several students interviewed yesterday agreed that the University's recreational facilities need improvement, not all agreed whether artificial surfaces were a positive move. "I would definitely say it's a good idea. There have been patches of rocks and dirt out there [on Hill Field]," Engineering senior Daryl Anderson said. "It is one big dirty patch. I hope they either clean up the grass, put in new grass or put in astroturf." Some students said that the DuPont land is too far away and the University should concentrate on finding land closer to campus. "It's kind of a hike," Engineering junior Ray Groatman said. "It's kind of inconvenient -- a lot of times you're just coming from somewhere, but you don't want to have to take [a shuttle service]."

Casey freezes U. allotmentof $1.3 million

(01/20/92 10:00am)

Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey froze $1.3 million intended for the University in response to fears that the state's financial condition will worsen. Friday's freeze is the second in two months and may require the University to stall one-time expenditures, President Sheldon Hackney said yesterday. "We will have to hold it out and see what happens in the future," Hackney said. "But we should be able to handle this without affecting ongoing operations." The spending halt comes on the tail of this month's $250,000 cut in funds to the Morris Arboretum and November's state freeze of $200,000, earmarked for the University's equipment budget. The governor held 3.5 percent of the funds allocated for University in reserve, as part of a $275 million statewide spending halt. Although the University has not officially lost the money, it will not receive it until Casey determines the state has sufficient incoming revenue to match outgoing appropriations. Casey has frozen a total of $403 million in state allocations over the last two months. Currently tax revenues are "right on target," Casey spokesperson Sue Grimm said last week. But it is not clear whether critical times for tax collection -- including Christmas sales and April personal income taxes -- will keep pace with projections and the ongoing national recession may keep tax returns down, she added. "If tax revenue holds up and the governor feels comfortable there is an opportunity [to get the money back]," Executive Vice President Marna Whittington said yesterday. "We will have to tighten belts all around." Whittington noted that she has not yet seen the governor's action in writing. This freeze is another in a series of sudden setbacks for the University's state funding over the past two years. Last January the state cut $1.3 million from the University -- also a 3.5 percent deduction -- in an effort to balance the state's budget, which at the time was posting a $1 billion deficit. Last fiscal year the University only received an increase of one percent in state funds over FY 1990, an increase less than administrators expected. This summer the University received no increase. "This indicates we may have another worrisome spring," Hackney added. "Our appropriations for 1993 will also be under pressure." Casey froze 3.5 percent of the allocations of all colleges and universities receiving general state instructional funds. "Under the circumstances it is fair," Hackney said. "The same percentage increased or decreased for each school -- it's applied equally." Pennsylvania funds higher education in a manner markedly different from other states. It places schools receiving state money in three catagories: state system, state-related and non-state-related. State system schools including Kutztown State University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania while state-related schools include Pennsylvania State University and Temple University.

TCBY closes its doors, owner expects to reopen

(01/17/92 10:00am)

Let them eat cake. Sweet-toothed students and area residents rained bitter tears last week when they returned from winter break to find that yogurt favorite TCBY was closed. But only for a while. The Locust Street Warehouse yogurt shop has been closed for several days, according to owner Phil Spiegel, but Spiegel said the low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-caloric dairy dessert often topped with chocolate chips will return soon. "I just ran into some problems," Spiegel said. "Absolutely, I look forward to reopening." The shop, which closed suddenly, now stands dark and barren with once full chairs stacked on tables and the yogurt bar empty. "At first I thought it had just closed for the day, but then it never reopened," said Jeff Thomas, a cook at the neighboring Boccie Pizzeria. "I miss the vanilla yogurt and the cookies with the yogurt inside -- and the banana boat sundaes and the the popsicles with yogurt -- man, the whole store was good." But the building's landlord Daniel Lai said yesterday that TCBY's popular product has not gone the way of Troy's eggel, and that students who need their ice-cream substitute fix will soon find refuge when the shop reopens under new management. Lai, who added that his favorite flavor is peanut butter, declined to say why the store was changing hands or who the new owners would be. "We're negotiating and it should be open soon," Lai said. "But we're still talking." Current owner Phil Spiegel said last night he hopes to open the store within a week, but would not comment on whether or not there would be new owners. Students and area residents who "did yogurt" at TCBY said they do not understand why The Country's Best Yogurt is no longer operating, noting that it was always full. "It always seemed like there was a line out the door, especially in the spring and summer," Thomas said. "Those months they made a killing." College junior Jonathan Cutler said he was the manager of the store for two years until early December, several weeks before the store closed. "It was not a good time to be in business, let alone in a highly competitve market like frozen yogurt," Cutler said. "But we were geting by." Cutler added that "if times get better" he believes the store will be in a position to make more money. "We sold a good product, with good service," Cutler added. "It was not a good time to be in small retail business." Arthur Pin, Boccie manager, said yesterday that TCBY's temporary closing will not hurt the restaurant's sales but that it leaves a void since the surrounding stores look into it. "It added to the atmosphere of the Warehouse," Pin said. "It will take away light." Students said that the culinary void may force them to select a new hang-out. "I used to go there quite a bit," Wharton senior Mary Duarte said yesterday. "I'm not heartbroken, it's just a nice place to go with people -- there is no other alternative besides maybe a bar." But Duarte, whose favorite flavor is chocolate-vanilla swirl, added that TCBY's closing will not increase her bar patronage. Local ice cream and yogurt stores said yesterday that the melting down of TCBY has not produced any financial gain. And College junior Bridget Horan, who makes pies and cakes for TCBY, said she was not notified before the store closed. "I just returned from vacation and it was closed," the peanut butter yogurt fan said. "There were University students and people from the community there, so you could meet people you would not see otherwise."

Some shops hit, others unscathed by recession

(01/16/92 10:00am)

Veronica Ullsa may have trouble putting on a happy face in the next few months. Over the last several weeks, her Walnut Street store Smiles has reported low sales, and the shop's owner has even been forced to change the store's inventory to attract buyers. Ullsa's Shops at Penn store, now strictly an accessory shop, has been in financial trouble ever since Ullsa opened up two years ago due to the recession and the seasonability of students. "Sales were awful in the beginning of January, and awful at the end of December," Ullsa said. "No one was around, I know it's seasonable, but it's very tough." Shops at Penn and the 3401 Cafe merchants reported radically different financial outlooks yesterday. Some cited a banner holiday season, while others said the recession and winter break have them swimming in red ink. John McGreevery, the general manager of the Shops at Penn food court said yesterday that the current market is "cautiously healthy" and that people are still buying, but are more wary and aware of sales and competition. "Things are at or a little better than last year," McGreevery said yesterday. "When the merchants met I think everybody was optimistic." McGreevery added that all spaces in the Walnut Street facility are occupied and although he could not provide statistics, he said the food court and retail shops, "on the whole," are doing well. The Philadelphia Steaks and Gyro company, opening February 1, will replace the vacancy in the food court that emerged Olivieri Prince Steaks closed last year. "The recession is obviously slowing things down a little, but retail did well through Christmas," McGreevey said. "It's back to normal again -- it's busy." Foot Locker, like Smiles, however, is not seeing the business that some of the other stores are enjoying. "It's been very slow, very slow, definitely not as good as last year at this time," Manager Steve Dandridge said. "A lot of it has to do with the recession." But the Gap and Attivo, two retail clothing stores in the shopping center, said yesterday that they had a very successful holiday season. Assistant Manager Monique Upsur said Attivo had the best Christmas in three years, but noted that approximately 85 percent of the store's clients are not students, making them less prone to declines during vacation periods. "We've been pretty steady, unlike some stores which are saying 'oh no what will we do,'" Upsur said. "Sales during the Christmas period were amazing." Anne Geary, assistant manager of the Gap said her store also had a "great" holiday season, reflecting the clothing chain's strong national sales despite the recession. McGreevery said that the shopping center reaches a market of approximately one circular mile. Besides the University, buyers come from Drexel University, area hotels, the Civic Center and some of West Philadelphia. He added that the shops may begin attracting more business from tourists who come to the area, particularly visitors who will be coming to Philadelphia to mark the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage. "We are optimistic for sales," McGreevery said. "Our market is doing relatively well compared to other shopping malls."