LHU’s Fiorentino Gives Qualified Upbeat Report on School

LOCK HAVEN – Lock Haven University President Michael Fiorentino said while times are tough in higher education, the local university is positioned to more than hold its own in the future. The occasion was the Clinton County Economic Partnership’s annual membership meeting Wednesday night.

Fiorentino cited declining enrollment and less state funding as part of the problem faced by the 14-school State System of Higher Education. He said the state-owned schools are receiving fewer state dollars today than they did in the 2009-10 school year; meanwhile “costs have escalated,” particularly in the area of wages, health care and pensions.

Meanwhile the number of high school graduates has been dropping in the state for the past decade. He said there are fewer prospective students and the state system can’t provide the “incentives” that private schools can. He said the private schools can through the mechanism of “scholarships” offer discounts of up to 50 to 60 percent to prospective enrollees.

Fiorentino acknowledged enrollment is down at LHU and said the local school has had to adapt and has done so through attrition, stating that the school has not filled 70 existing positions. He was upbeat on the school’s future and noted while some of the other state schools “are barely keeping their doors open,” the local school’s financial standing is in relatively good shape; in terms of financial risk assessment Lock Haven University stands at number four among the 14 schools.

He said the school is not in any danger as to its future and talked of evolving academic offerings to prepare students for the future, citing areas such as health care, psychological services and criminal justice.

Asked what community members can do to help Lock Haven University, Fiorentino said they could offer their contributions to the school and be an advocate for the university.

Lock Haven University president since July of 2011, Fiorentino announced in early August that he would retire in March of next year.