APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash’s comments as prepared:
Chairwoman Shapira, governors, university presidents, and guests,
Good morning. My name is Ken Mash, and I am the president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), which represents the faculty and coaches at our 14 great universities.
On behalf of our membership, I would like to welcome the members of the Board and thank you and all of the governors for your commitment of time and energy for the cause of providing high-quality, affordable, public higher education for Pennsylvanians.
The story of our universities is the story of success. Every semester, students are doing amazing things, and they graduate and go off to contribute the success of this Commonwealth. That is the narrative that should undergird every discussion involving the State System of Higher Education and its universities. Despite enormous challenges, we — all of us — get the job done.
Of course, it is always fair to ask what the System and our universities could do better and to point out the continued challenges that our universities and, more important, our students face when our universities are underfunded. The increase to the budget helps, and we are appreciative of the efforts by the governor and our legislative leaders to secure additional funding. Still, there are questions of affordability and sustainability that will remain.
We have had two studies that have been pretty critical of the System, and it is disturbing to think that those studies have created among some a false narrative of “failure.” Again, the story of our System is one of success, and no study can or should take that away.
But we can do things better. Over the past few weeks, I have been soliciting suggestions from my colleagues about what the System can and ought to do so that we might improve on that record of success. When our recommendations are complete, we will share those with the Board, the new chancellor, and other parties who share an interest in making positive changes to the System.
For the moment and in the interest of time, I would like to highlight three of these, which should not be news to anyone. We have been asking for these for years and years:
1. Create a joint application process that allows potential students to apply to more than one university at a time. This application should allow all universities to see who is applying, their application status and the major they are seeking. This will allow all of our universities to have an opportunity to contact students who may not even be aware of the offerings at other universities. Those universities that may have enrollment issues can approach students about their ability to transfer credits from one of our universities to another.
2. Create the infrastructure necessary, i.e., tuition collection and allocation, fee collection, transcript services, and necessary agreements with us to allow two or more faculty to create collaborative programs. Some of these agreements do exist, but having individual faculty and deans be concerned about back-end mechanics creates an unnecessary obstacle. Expanding collaborative programs is a student-centered approach that secures opportunities for students at all of our universities.
3. Create a gateway page that lists all distance-education programs and courses available at our universities and that allows students to register for a course, regardless of the university they attend or their matriculation status. This is the 21st century, and this is a 20th century request.
These requests are all student-centered and are meant to provide opportunities for our students. Frankly, we do not know how we could have gotten this far without action on these items.
As I noted, we will have several more proposals that we will share as we hope to expand upon the success of our System and our universities. We continue to assert that this System functions best when there are true opportunities to collaborate among all of our constituencies.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
State APSCUF staff members stand with our union. Photo/Kathryn Morton
If you don’t already, now is a critical time to take an active role in APSCUF. Contact your chapter or state leadership to find out how you can share your time and talents with OUR union.
One simple way to spread the word about the importance of union membership is to proclaim your solidarity on social media.
You can share a photo of yourself with a “UNION” or #APSCUFproud sign. We’ve been doing the former in the State APSCUF office, and you can view our images in this Facebook album. We’d love to add yours to the mix, so tag APSCUF or send your picture to firstname.lastname@example.org so we’ll be sure to see and share them.
Don’t have a paper sign? We’ve compiled graphics and an overlay for you to spruce up your social-media accounts with solidarity. Below are some profile and cover photos you’re welcome to use. You also can post them as stand-alone graphics with your message that you’re sticking with our union.
Click here to download the “APSCUF proud” graphic. Use it as a profile photo or share the graphic with your statement of solidarity on social-media accounts.
Click here to download an “I’m sticking with my union” graphic. Use it as a profile image or share it with your declaration that you’re sticking with APSCUF.
Click here to download the “I’m sticking with my union” cover photo sized for Facebook — but available to use wherever you need to show your APSCUF pride.
“The judiciary … has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78
With a stroke of the keyboard today, the U.S. Supreme Court injected itself squarely into the political realm, eroded federalism, adopted a novel theory of the First Amendment, and squandered its legitimacy by prioritizing the dreams of well-funded billionaires over millions of working people.
In recent years, working people have too often learned that the political branches of the state and the federal government are not dependable sources of goodwill and fairness. Today provides us with evidence that we cannot even rely on the Supreme Court’s ability to serve as a safeguard against those well-funded interests that seek to exploit workers in order to further fill their coffers.
We can only depend upon each other, our unions, and the strength of our solidarity.
APSCUF existed before fair share, and APSCUF will thrive in the future. Our members make us who we are, and together we know we will continue to be a force with which to be reckoned. We will not rely on others to protect us; we will stand up for ourselves more now than ever before.
I am APSCUF proud.
—APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash
Today’s Janus v. AFSCME decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled against public-sector unions, is an attack on unions and working people, but we remain united. We stand with our union sisters and brothers. We are APSCUF proud.
So, what can you do now? First, make sure you’re a full member. If you’re not sure or know you need to become one, you can contact your chapter office manager and start the simple process of joining APSCUF.
On social media, you can share a photo of yourself with #APSCUFproud and #union signs. Be sure to tag APSCUF or send them to email@example.com so we’ll be sure to see and share them. Don’t have a paper sign? Head over to our Facebook page to add this overlay:
If you’re not already, now is a critical time to get involved with APSCUF. Contact your chapter or state leadership to find out how you can share your time and talents to galvanize our union.
We will continue to stand together for quality, affordable public higher education — and for working people.
Joseph Miele, second from left, announced he was stepping down as State APSCUF parliamentarian at legislative assembly in April. The professor of psychology plans to retire from East Stroudsburg University in two years. Photos/Kathryn Morton
Out of all 28 years Joseph Miele has been an APSCUF member, his fondest memory stems from the strike of 2016. Standing in solidarity with his fellow East Stroudsburg University colleagues on the picket line, he says, was “an exhilarating moment.” Although he would have much rather been in the classroom teaching, the unity of faculty and students demanding quality public higher education was an outstanding time that he said he will never forget.
Miele is stepping down from his position of State APSCUF parliamentarian, a role he has held since February 2016, and the professor of psychology plans to retire in two years. He originally took on the APSCUF role because he knew a little about the rules and wanted to help the organization, he said.
APSCUF President Kenneth M. Mash, a political-science professor at East Stroudsburg University, praised Miele for his work ethic, “even-keeled temperament,” and deep and abiding commitment to APSCUF service at both the state and chapter levels.
APSCUF’s ESU chapter president, Nancy VanArsdale, a professor of English, lauded Miele’s contributions at the local level as well.
“Joe has done amazing service,” VanArsdale said, describing Miele’s APSCUF work, including as ESU grievance chair, meet-and-discuss chair, helping to rewrite sabbatical guidelines, and as a legislative assembly delegate. “He was also one of our strike captains in the big and successful strike. Many, many faculty go to Joe, often on a weekly basis, to get guidance related to interpreting the CBA.”
Miele has seen APSCUF evolve into an organization that works with individuals and stands up to the state when it defunds education, he said. The greatest thing a union has to offer is the balance it creates with management, he said.
“Every member needs to know someone has their back,” Miele said. “We know what happens when the balance shifts too much one way or the other. When there’s good balance, there’s good productivity.”
Miele said he will be sad to say goodbye to some of the great APSCUF friends he’s made over the years. As he begins his farewells, Miele advises members that you “get out of APSCUF what you put into it.” You might not always win, but if you’re open-minded and willing to work with the administration, great things can happen, he said. For the incoming parliamentarian, he also suggests proficiency in “Robert’s Rules of Order.”
He said he plans to stay in eastern Pennsylvania, wants to get involved in local charities and help people locally, and also join a classic-car club, as he drives a 1979 Cadillac Eldorado.
—John Danvers, APSCUF intern