This statement was prepared by the academic affairs committee and was approved by executive council at APSCUF's February 2016 legislative assembly. It emphasizes institutional control, broad general educational goals, and values the liberal arts.
APSCUF Position Statement on the Significance of the General Education Curriculum
The Association for Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) remains committed to supporting and maintaining a general education curriculum as defined by both our regional accrediting body, The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). More than two decades ago, the PASSHE Board of Governors clearly defined the objectives of general education in Policy 1993-01: General Education at State System of Higher Education Universities. The universities have since fulfilled the charge of this policy, and APSCUF fully supports the assertion that:
(W)hile study within and across the arts and sciences disciplines forms the basis for the general education curriculum, the most important outcomes — the liberal education outcomes — will consist not so much in the mastery of particular bodies of knowledge as in the acquisition of the skills, values, awareness, understanding, perspective, and appreciation needed for continuing professional and personal growth in a rapidly changing world. To achieve the outcomes of a liberal education, imaginative, deliberate, and rigorous approaches to the design of general education and to its integration with other parts of the curriculum and the college experience are called for. (p. 2)
To this end, the PASSHE institutions with APSCUF readily adopted the recommended procedures for developing, sustaining, improving general education programs while also developing strategies to keep general education goals current with the demands of a changing global community. The institutions communicate the significance of general education at all levels within and beyond the campuses; the systemwide commitment is apparent on university websites that reiterate the nine general education goals articulated by PASSHE Policy 1993-01. as follows:
In developing or reviewing their own goal statements, designing general education curricula, and considering the integration of general education with the rest of the undergraduate curricula, State System university faculty and administrators should use these goals as guidelines or benchmarks.
1. Skill in various forms of inquiry, abstract logical thinking, inductive reasoning, critical analysis, and ability to find and use information.
2. Communication skills — including those required for effective reading, writing, speaking, and listening — and awareness of the challenges of cross-cultural communication.
3. Ability to understand numerical data and use mathematical methods for analysis and problem-solving.
4. Basic understanding of the natural and social sciences and their significance in contemporary society.
5. Historical consciousness, i.e., understanding of ideas, events, persons, and creative expressions from the past.
6. Awareness of the social, economic, political, and environmental interdependence of countries and regions of the world.
7. Understanding of how people's experiences and perspectives are shaped by gender, ethnicity, culture, and other factors that distinguish groups of people, coupled with recognition of common elements within human experience that transcend time, space, race, and circumstances.
8. Appreciation of and experience with literature and the arts.
9. Understanding of the role of values in personal, professional, and civic life; experience in recognizing and analyzing ethical issues. (p.3)
The effectiveness of Policy 1993-01 and the success of its implementation is attributable to the fact that these stated principles are consistent with the traditions of liberal education viewed through the lens of a rapidly changing world. APSCUF faculty understand the validity of these stated principles through what we have learned in our research and in the ways we see our students apply their educations in their careers and communities.
Our accrediting body, MSCHE, also recognizes these goals. Indeed, the statements articulated by MSCHE and PASSHE are similar, but Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, the MSCHE (2009) document that defines Standards for Accreditation, is clear on two additional elements: the curriculum should be developed by faculty, and it should reflect the mission of the institution.
A general education program — developed, owned, and reviewed by the institution’s faculty — should be purposeful, coherent, engaging, and rigorous. General education skills may be taught or developed as part of courses in the major, in separate courses, or through a decentralized distribution. However, the skills and knowledge derived from general education and the major should be integrated because general education and study in depth, together, comprise a quality undergraduate education. Institutions offering the associate and baccalaureate degrees will strike an appropriate balance between specialized and more general knowledge. The institution’s ability to demonstrate that its students are able to integrate and apply in different contexts the core knowledge and skills learned in their course work is a critical component of successful undergraduate educational programs. (p. 47)
General education offerings should reflect the particular programs and mission of the institution. However, general education courses should not focus narrowly on those skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession. The content of general education within specialized degree programs should be comparable, though not necessarily identical, to traditional academic offerings at the collegiate level or above. (p. 48)
APSCUF is committed to general education and recognizes its importance in higher education. The universal adoption and implementation of PASSHE Policy 1993-01 is a testament to a shared commitment of PASSHE and APSCUF to preparing our students for the expectations of the 21st century. APSCUF also recognizes that the general education curriculum must be developed and reviewed by faculty and that this practice will keep the general education curriculum at each university consistent with the “mission of the institution.” Indeed, general education is ultimately the common element that each university gives each of its graduates and, as such, it shapes an institution’s identity.
Dr. Wilma J. Cavill speaks to assembly delegates after hearing the resolution in her honor Feb. 5, 2016. Photo/Kathryn Morton
Dr. Wilma J. Cavill, who retired from Slippery Rock University last month, has been a fixture at APSCUF's legislative assemblies. At the most recent one Feb. 4–6 in Gettysburg, the organization honored Cavill's decades of service with the following resolution:
Wilma J. Cavill Resolution for the February 2016 Legislative Assembly
Whereas, Dr. Wilma J. Cavill has established an auspicious service record through:
• serving as a member of Slippery Rock University’s APSCUF Executive Council from 1971 to 2014,
• serving as the SRU APSCUF secretary in 1972,
• becoming a legislative assembly delegate in 1973 and serving consecutively for thirty-eight years until 2011,
• serving as the SRU APSCUF president from 1974 to 1978,
• serving as the APSCUF state vice president for six years from 1998 to 2004,
• serving as a member-at-large of the state APSCUF Executive Council from 1976 to 1981,
• serving as the SRU APSCUF vice president from 1982 to 1986,
• serving as chairperson of the APSCUF Supplemental Benefits Trust Fund from 1990 to 2006,
• serving as chairperson of the joint APSCUF-PDE Educational Services Trust,
• her institutional memory, which has served to guide and inform SRU administration, faculty, state legislative assemblies, and state APSCUF leadership,
• receiving the state APSCUF Service Award in 1990,
• the establishment of the SRU APSCUF Wilma J. Cavill Service Award in 2007,
• her service being acknowledged by Slippery Rock University conferring an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service in December 2015,
be it resolved that APSCUF recognizes and honors the selfless contributions of Dr. Cavill’s sixty-three-and-a-half-year career in education and recognizes her invaluable mentoring and service as an APSCUF member.
Our guest message today is from Shippensburg University senior Olivia J. Straka. Straka appeared last month with APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash on "Behind the Headlines" to discuss the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's need for more funding and the importance of attending next week's rally.
I hope this letter finds you warm, fed, clothed, and worry-free. I am writing to you about a rally that APSCUF is holding Feb. 8 in the main rotunda of the Capitol. Why am I, a second-semester senior writing to you about a rally? It's because of students who will be reading this who aren't warm, fed, clothed, or worry-free because the price of their tuition continues to skyrocket, year after year.
I picked a state school because I was looking for an affordable education, and although three years ago that's what I had, each semester that opportunity has slipped further and further away from me. As state funding falls for our schools, tuition rises, and so do class sizes. I know of many students who can no longer afford an education from any state school, and they are being forced to drop out of college because of lack of state support.
Although this is a terrible situation, there is something I want you to know: You can make a difference. You, reading this email, getting fired up thinking about friends who are struggling to make ends meet, can do something. Come to the rally. APSCUF is sponsoring buses from every PASSHE school to Harrisburg. Show the state that we need funding and that it needs to invest in the next generation of Pennsylvanians. Be a part of this change.
Olivia J. Straka
Political Science Major
Lieutenant Governor's Intern Pi Sigma Alpha Treasurer
"If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and would achieve nothing." -Margaret Thatcher
Remarks of Dr. Kenneth M. Mash
Before the Board of Governors
Jan. 21, 2016
Chairman Piccinni, Governors, Chancellor Brogan, university presidents,
My name is Kenneth Mash, and I am the president of APSCUF, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
On behalf of the all the faculty and coaches at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities, I would like to extend a welcome to the newest board members and to thank you for your service.
While there are many issues I would like to raise this morning, the one I will raise is one that we are all aware of. For now, the State System is once again flat funded for this year. That means that, following the 18 percent reduction in allocation in 2011 — 23 percent, if one counts federal funds — we are one of only a couple of states in the nation that has not seen any restoration in funding since the cuts of the Great Recession.
As a result, our universities have eliminated programs by the score, cut department budgets, delayed maintenance, cut athletic programs, reduced departmental resources, delayed hiring, decreased student internships, lessened money for scholarly activities, instituted faculty and staff layoffs, etc., etc. It has gotten to the point that it is almost laughable when someone from outside the System suggests that the way to deal with budget shortfalls in the tens of millions is to reduce fat and waste. It is only laughable because it is just not at all funny.
Even with these reductions that increasingly threaten our universities’ abilities to provide the quality education that is mandated by law, our students and their families have had to endure ever-increasing tuition increases and fees. When the System was first established, the Commonwealth contributed 75 percent of the cost of a Pennsylvania student’s education. Now, that number is less than 25 percent. Should those universities that were granted permission by this Board implement the per-credit tuition plans, most students at those universities will be paying 25 percent higher tuition.
All these years of underfunding are enough. This Board recognized this when you requested an allocation that exceeds the 2011 cut in state allocation.
With this in mind, APSCUF is helping to organize a rally in the Capitol Rotunda — United We Stand, Underfunded We Fail — at noon Feb. 8. Our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of public higher education will be there to emphasize the impact of these cuts on their lives, but also how much more our universities and our students could do for the Commonwealth if they were properly funded.
I invite you all to participate in the rally and to encourage others to participate, so that we may supplement the good work that is done by the System’s Advocacy Day. We would ask that our university administrations help encourage students (who don’t have class or are excused), faculty (who are not teaching), and all others to participate.
We have already received support from several student organizations, and we are working with more. We are looking at the day not as an opportunity to point fingers or to assign blame, but rather to raise awareness to our needs and — with apologies to the Chancellor — to discuss infinite possibilities.
Thank you all in advance for your assistance. I certainly hope that this is an event for which we can all unite.
After more than five decades at Slippery Rock University, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's longest-term faculty member officially retires Jan. 8.
Wilma J. Cavill, assistant professor of safety management, began working at SRU in fall 1958. An SRU alumna herself, she graduated in 1952 and taught gym and swimming at Ben Franklin Junior High School in New Castle before returning to her alma mater.
She joined APSCUF right away.
What now is a faculty and coaches union then was a professional association for instructors at the Commonwealth’s teacher colleges. When APSCUF took on collective bargaining in the early 1970s, Cavill dove into the union’s cause, serving throughout the years in a roster of capacities, including as chapter president, on executive council, and as state vice president.
“APSCUF has made a major difference in all of our lives as faculty,” she said. “We would not be the same without APSCUF — because of the collective bargaining agreement. When you’re organized, there’s power.”
And APSCUF would not be the same without Cavill’s contributions, President Kenneth M. Mash said.
“No matter what her title, Wilma has worked tirelessly to serve APSCUF and its causes,” he said.
Before this semester wrapped, Slippery Rock University faculty members honored Cavill’s years of service at a meeting.
“She’s a legend,” said Joseph Cali, chairman of SRU’s department of safety management. “Everybody (at the meeting) had a story about how she had just touched their lives.”
His own story involved another meeting, 15 years ago, when Cali had to make a difficult announcement about his health.
Cavill sat to his right.
“She knew that I was in big-time distress,” Cali said. “All the sudden, I felt this hand go on top of my hand. It was the most calming thing I’ve ever experienced. I was able then to talk to the faculty. I’ll remember her for that as long as I live. She reached out, and she really helped me.”
Cavill, who turned 85 yesterday, said she has no big plans for retirement: a little more domestic travel, some volunteer work, and she might sit in on some classes.
“I’m happy to be able to be as healthy as I am to have served as long as I have," she said.
Photo/Slippery Rock University
Retired APSCUF members are in the Capitol today talking with legislators about a state pension proposal that undermines retirement security for public-sector employees. What can you do to help the cause? Contact your legislators and tell them to oppose any pension bill that could jeopardize the retirement security of APSCUF members and other dedicated public-sector employees.