| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Cal U finishes year with slight surplus, challenges remain, interim president says

Interim California University of Pennsylvania President Geraldine M. Jones (left) and GACO director Deborah S. Wojcik with a check from the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 12:12 p.m.

Just a year since she took the helm at California University of Pennsylvania, interim President Geraldine M. Jones on Thursday announced the school has erased an $11.8 million deficit and ended the 2012-13 fiscal year with a surplus.

Jones said it marks the first time in five years the university has ended the year with a balanced budget.

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd at the university's faculty and staff convocation, Jones said she is rescinding a retrenchment letter sent to faculty this year and invited the university community to participate in a workforce development plan she hopes to finalize by the end of the semester.

The plan will reallocate staff and resources to “programs students want and need.”

Over the last year, Jones said, the university reduced discretionary spending, shortened its lease at the Southpointe complex in Washington County and cut costs by leaving vacancies unfilled and furloughing managers, among other measures.

The university's enrollment declined by more than 9 percent last year and it's facing a preliminary decline of 3.86 percent this year, so it still faces challenges, she said. Freshman enrollment, which has yet to reach 2011 levels, is another positive indicator. It rose 26 percent this year, she said.

“To secure Cal U's future, we must align payroll, programs and services with resources,” she said, adding that faculty reductions would be a last resort.

Jones, who spent four decades at the university before being named interim president, “hit a home run,” said Michael Slavin, president of the university's faculty union.

“She met my challenge to focus on academics,” Slavin said. “I expect big things. I see her on the right track.”

Matt Stonebrook, 20, of Murrysville, a junior, said he knew things were not looking good when Jones took over as president.

“To erase the deficit that quickly, it seems like she's doing a good job,” he said.

Just how long Jones will remain in office is unclear. She was named interim president last spring after the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education fired former President Angelo Armenti in May 2012.

The State System Board of Governors has yet to form a search committee to seek a permanent replacement for Armenti.

Asked whether she would take the job on a permanent basis, Jones said she would.

One day after Armenti was fired, the State System, which oversees California and 13 other state-owned universities, issued an audit highly critical of the school's financial practices, many relating to the $59 million convocation center.

The school this week severed its five-year contract with the convocation center's manager, saying the move would save $300,000 this year.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Pirates sign free agent 1B-OF Goebbert, RHP Webster
  2. Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
  3. Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
  4. Police find marijuana grow rooms in Castle Shannon
  5. Cheswick super fan, 90, has had season tickets for almost 70 years
  6. Stanley’s Bar & Grill in Ford City offers free Thanksgiving dinner
  7. Occupying playoff spot on Thanksgiving good harbinger for Penguins
  8. After 27 years, Clairton emerges from state ‘financially distressed’ status
  9. South Fayette, Aliquippa form unique traditions for Thanksgiving Day
  10. North Shore parking garage plan moves forward in Pittsburgh
  11. Former Mountaineer Bailey shot, in critical condition in Miami