College students phone parents for funding

Undergraduate student callers are contacting parents of the College’s current students asking for monetary donations in order to accommodate the possible budget cut recently proposed by Gov. James E. McGreevey.

Students usually call alumni in order to provide updates about the school and upcoming events and to ask for donations.

According to Diana Lygas, head of the Phone-a-Thon callers, this is the first time in her three years where parents were called for money.

In order to protect the College, the Office of Development proposed the idea to call parents for donations.

According to Lygas, at first the workers were skeptical about having to call current students’ parents. They felt as if the parents would not be willing to give the College any more money than the tuition they already pay.

“The parents’ Phone-a-Thon was planned prior to the state’s decisions regarding the level of funding for N.J. public higher education,” David Tiffany, vice president of Development and Alumni Affairs, said.

“Parents benefit from the low tuition at (the College), and the purpose of the parents’ Phone-a-Thon was to encourage parents to help the College,” Tiffany added.

Slightly over 5,000 parents of the College’s current 5,600 full-time undergraduate students’ were called. The students asked for $100 to be donated towards either “Greatest Needs,” “School of the Parents Choice” or the “Parents Fund.”

The “Parents Fund” was created to support programs that will be hurt by the budget cut. Many families, however, gave as much as $250, according to Lygas.

In under four weeks, 930 parents pledged a total of $52, 340.

Last year, the College’s base appropriation was cut by $2.7 million, and was cut by an additional $2.7 million this year. The state also negotiated salary increases that amounted to an additional $3 million that would not be covered by the state.

This year’s budget is expected to be reduced by another $1.5 million, bringing the total cuts to $7.3 million.

“The budget reductions are the most painful cuts I have ever experienced as an administrator,” College President R. Barbara Gitenstein said.

“I have heard that they are the most extreme in anyone’s memory who has worked in higher education in the state of New Jersey,” she added.