Corbett to visit Pitt’s campus this Friday

By Gretchen Andersen

During his first two years in office, Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed cutting Pitt’s state… During his first two years in office, Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed cutting Pitt’s state funding to half of what it was before he took office. And on Friday, Pitt students will have a chance to question him about his controversial budget proposals.

Corbett will be the next politician speaking at Breakfast and Politics in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room at 7:30 a.m on Friday. Pitt’s Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and Student Government Board host the event, which usually features a local politician who gives a speech and takes questions from students over breakfast.

GPSA administrative assistant Thomas Cunningham said this event is important for students because “we don’t often have the opportunity for such a high-ranking official to come to Pitt’s campus.”

Cunningham said each year GPSA makes a list of government officials its members would like to bring to Breakfast and Politics. This year, he said GPSA President Nyasha Hungwe reached out to the governor’s office.

He said organizers do not know what Corbett will speak about at the event, but there will be pre-screened questions from the audience for the governor during a question and answer session. SGB President James Landreneau said students will also be able to write in additional questions during the breakfast, and SGB will also reach out to both Pitt College Democrats and Pitt College Republicans for questions.

Landreneau said Corbett’s visit is just as imperative as Pitt Day in Harrisburg, which will take place today at the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. There, students will talk with legislators about Pitt-related issues, such as this year’s proposed 30 percent appropriations cuts.

Landreneau acknowledged that Corbett’s visit will serve as an opportunity for members of the Pitt community to learn about the proposed budget cuts.

“There’s a lot of confusion and angst about this topic, and this is the guy who planned it. Students will get to understand his ideology about the cuts and offer their judgement for why it should be changed,” Landreneau said.

The Governor’s Press Office said they could not confirm Corbett’s visit because they do not release the governor’s schedule until 24 hours in advance.

The event, usually known as Pancakes and Politics, will not be serving pancakes on Friday because Landreneau said SGB is waning down the funding for the event since not enough undergraduates attend. However, Sodexo will cater the breakfast, which will feature bagels and juice.

Students can pick up free tickets to the breakfast, at which seats will be limited, in room 848 of the William Pitt Union. There are 300 tickets available in total, to be split between undergraduates and graduates.

The doors will open at 7 a.m. and breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 8. Corbett will address the audience at 8:15.

“We are acutely aware of funding cuts. GPSA is trying to take a leadership role. We don’t have an organized message, but we believe state education is valuable and the time is right to increase funding after years of decreasing funding,” Cunningham said.

The ticket reads that event attendees will go through airport-like security and are encouraged to bring as few personal items as possible. No signs, banners, posters, liquids, umbrellas, laptops, computers or bookbags will be allowed in the venue. Cameras will be permitted.

“This is an opportunity to galvanize support for opposition to the funding cuts,” Cunningham said.

Vice Chancellor Robert Hill said in an email that after Breakfast and Politics, Governor Corbett and Chancellor Mark Nordenberg will visit the Swanson School of Engineering and the Center for Energy. Hill said that while at Swanson, they will discuss Pitt’s certificate program in nuclear engineering.

“This an important opportunity to demonstrate Pitt’s accomplishments and the University’s extraordinary contributions to research, as well as to the economy of the southwestern Pennsylvania region,” Hill said.