Tuition increase discussed at University Dialogue
Josh LaBella – General Assignment Reporter
Southern Connecticut State University President Joe Bertolino opened with a round of applause to those faculty and staff who keep the campus operational.
“Your effort does not go unnoticed,” said Bertolino.
Bertolino hosted the first University Dialogue of the spring semester. There he laid out his short term and long term goals for Southern.
Bertolino said there has been a 40 percent rise in applications and he wants to capitalize on that on Accepted Students’ Day, which takes place April 1. He urged the audience, mostly consisting of administrative staff, faculty and professors, to stop and say hello to tours of accepted students.
“Thirty seconds,” said Bertolino. “It makes a difference.”
Next Bertolino said one goal he had for Southern was to become qualified as a minority serving institution in the next 10 years. To do so he said Southern is going to be mentored by California State University Channel Islands on how to bridge the achievement gap that exists for minority groups on campus.
Bertolino also spoke about the importance of providing resources for undocumented students on campus.
“We are not building walls here at Southern,” said Bertolino. “We are building bridges and pathways to success for our students.”
Bertolino went over a presentation of steps he said he believed the university could take to become the flagship institution of the CSU system. They included diversifying sources of income, working more closely with community colleges, and increasing Southern’s presence both physically and visibly in the southern part of the state.
Next Bertolino talked about the budget. He said this year the state’s proposed budget includes a 4.5 percent cut in the CSU’s funding.
“I can assure you that we will balance the budget,” said Bertolino. “More importantly, 10 years from now we will be talking about reinvesting our diversified sources of income.”
Bertolino said he and other members of Southern’s staff had been spending a lot of time in Hartford “making sure Southern is visible and represented.”
He said by April 13 the school needs to propose a balanced budget and that it will require 1.2 million dollars more to be reallocated while still maintaining the 14-1 student-faculty ratio. Bertolino said one goal of the school should be to convert more commuters into residents.
“As a community we have challenges ahead, I need your help finding this money. Hold other members of this community accountable, whatever you take that to mean, as long as it’s legal,” said Bertolino, getting a laugh from the audience.
After the presentation was over, Bob Sheeley, Associate Vice President for Capital Budgeting and Facilities Operations, said President Bertolino is a refreshing voice who tells it as it is.
“Every problem is an opportunity,” said Sheeley. “We need to seize it to effect positive change.”
Allison O’Leary, a web and social media administrator, said she thought the event went great and highlighted President Bertolino’s transparency.
“I think it was a strong turnout,” said O’Leary. “There were a lot of key players here today.”
Ross Gingrich, an associate professor of mathematics, said Bertolino did a good job keeping the public informed about the inner happenings of the universtiy.
“He did a good job of covering the current status and bringing us up to date,” said Gingrich.
President Bertolino said he was happy to see so many people attend and he is ready to get to work.
“These are the cards we have been dealt,” said Bertolino. “We can’t do anything but work with them.”
Palmer Piana – Photo Editor