Good morning, Chairman Pichini, Chancellor Brogan, Governors, University Presidents, and guests. My name is Kenneth Mash, and I am the President of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. APSCUF represents the approximately 6,000 faculty and coaches employed at our 14 great public universities.
I want to emphasize the word “public” again. The universities that comprise this System are public universities. It has gotten harder and harder to remember that. As Secretary Hanger pointed out yesterday, over the course of the last two administrations our universities have struggled with declining resources.
When this system was founded, the Commonwealth paid for 2/3 of the cost of student’s education. Today students foot 75% of the cost. After attending our public institutions, the average student graduates with $30,000 in debt. That number would have been unthinkable to the bipartisan forces that founded this system.
Of course, over the last 4 years the financial state of the majority of our universities has gotten progressively worse. Under the previous administration we had an 18% cut followed by three years of no increases.
Even as 42 states increased funding for public higher education, ours did not. Pennsylvania now ranks 49th in funding for public higher education.
Since the 2011 cut, resident undergraduate tuition has jumped 17% or over $1,000 per year and average fees have increased by 18%. This Board has approved several tuition pilot programs that could increase tuition for students 25%. How much would that be a threat to the very notion of public higher education?
Just last year, similar to patterns from the years before, the State System faced a $58 million deficit due to years of cuts. Approximately $30 million was filled with another 3% tuition increase. A $28 million hole was left unfilled by this Board.
The remaining deficit was closed by continued cuts on campus. These cuts have already placed 77 programs in moratorium including key programs, like music. It also led to major reductions in faculty and major reductions to staff.
Last year, in the face of the $28 million gap, the Board sent the university presidents on their way thanking them in advance for the hard decisions they were forced to make. There was little if any discussion about the implications of those cuts. There was no talk of needing to raise tuition further to bridge the gap.
After the previous governor announced in 2012 that he wouldn’t cut the budget further, our then Chancellor stood at a press conference with the Governor, and thanked him for that. Instructions were given by the administration to keep tuition capped at the rate of inflation.
The Board complied, and there were no public recriminations. There was no great debate about the needs of the students and the universities. There certainly was no great concern voiced about how the Board could possibly meet any salary “demands” my association might make at the negotiations table.
Last week, April 3rd marked the first night of Passover. It is tradition at the Seder – the Passover dinner ritual – for the youngest in the room to as the 4 questions – which I recited many times. The first of those questions is “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
I am certainly no longer the youngest in the room. But after the watching the committee meetings yesterday, as the sun set, I was and I am still motivated to ask, why was yesterday afternoon so different from other afternoons over the last 4 years.
The only difference I can see is that we now have a governor who genuinely wants to restore public higher education. Over two years, he has proposed fully restoring the $90 million cut. He wants no tuition increases because he foresees the Commonwealth working to meet its obligation to public higher education. It would make for a tough year, but it also makes it a lot less tough than the preceding four years.
Thank you Governor Wolf for that, and thank you Secretary Hanger for delivering that message. Thank you Representative Hannah for making the motion to try to bring that about.
I do not know what action the Board will take today or what will be discussed, but after yesterday I am still wondering, why was last night different from all other nights?
Yesterday, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (State System) came to an agreement to resolve all but one of the grievances and unfair labor practice charges. These charges were filed by the Association against administrators at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) involving multiple violations of the collective bargaining agreement and state regulations.
After the Association had presented its case in one of the grievances, the System offered its initial settlement proposal for all grievances. That proposal was rejected by the Association, but negotiations continued to resolve all but one grievance.
To create a fair settlement, APSCUF countered the System’s initial proposal with language that addressed several other management violations of the contract, including the improper transfer of eight faculty to other departments, ignoring the curriculum process as defined by the CBA, and the local agreement on how programs are placed into moratorium. Additionally, the parties will continue to pursue one retrenchment-related grievance to arbitration.
As a result of the Association’s work, the two remaining music faculty members will remain at the university to teach general education music courses in the Theater Department, and East Stroudsburg University agreed to take various other steps to resolve grievances.
Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF President, is issuing the following statement:
“Yesterday’s agreement that resulted in the retention of the two music faculty is in the best interest of the students at ESU. While nothing can possibly make up for the damage that has already been done to people’s careers and their livelihoods, ESU students deserve to have music courses, and we are hopeful that this can be the beginning of a change in tone from the ESU administration. A better atmosphere can only be initiated by the University’s president, and our students will be far better off for it.
Retaining the two music faculty members is an economically sound decision for the University because they will be primarily teaching general education courses that raise revenue. Last year, the ESU administration publicly projected that there would be a $7.6 million deficit, but instead ended that same year with over $3 million in surplus. None of this needed to happen.”
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and State System negotiators met yesterday, Monday, March 23, 2015 at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg. The two sides primarily discussed the financial health of the State System. The negotiators will meet again on April 13, 2015 at the state APSCUF office in Harrisburg.
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty (APSCUF) and State System negotiators met today, Friday, March 20, 2015 at the APSCUF office in Harrisburg. The two sides primarily discussed the financial health of the State System and briefly discussed retrenchment. The negotiators will meet again on April 10, 2015 at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.
Earlier today, Governor Wolf gave his first budget address outlining his fiscal plan for the Commonwealth. APSCUF President, Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, is issuing the following response:
“In 2011, the previous administration cut funding to the State System of Higher Education by $90 million and provided no additional money the last three years. All Pennsylvanians should feel proud to have a Governor who understands the value of public higher education, and we fully support his plan to completely restore funding over two years.
“Restoring the full $90 million for the State System in the first year would have been challenging given the economic climate in Pennsylvania, and it is understandable that an increase must be incremental.
“As a result of the budget cuts, Pennsylvania fell to 49th in higher education funding, there are 270 fewer full-time faculty at the state-owned universities, and universities have discontinued over 90 programs. All Pennsylvanians will benefit from reinvestment in our students and our universities.
“The State System’s impact on the Commonwealth’s economy is substantial. Nearly 90 percent of students are from Pennsylvania, most are from lower or middle income families, and many are first-generation students. Upon graduation, 80 percent of State System students remain here in Pennsylvania where they obtain jobs, pay taxes, and contribute to the economy.
“Our professors and coaches hope that the Governor and the members of the General Assembly will work together to ensure a strong path to full restoration so that our students and generations to come will have access to high-quality public higher education at an affordable cost.”
PASSHE Board of Governors
Remarks of Kenneth M. Mash, Ph.D.
February 27, 2015
Chairman Pichini, Governors, Chancellor Brogan,
Good afternoon. This week is National Adjunct Action Week, and APSCUF stands in solidarity with our colleagues across the nation both adjunct and tenure and tenure track, in recognition of the plight of these faculty, who across this country are too often exploited, that is, they are grossly underpaid, denied health benefits, and forced to travel hundreds of miles to patch together enough money to make a living.
Their work is underappreciated, and they are way too often treated as if they are expendable, even as they devote their time and energies to instructing students, preparing them for their careers and giving them the ability to think critically that will serve them in every capacity of their lives.
The plight of the adjuncts has caught the attention of the US Congress, which held hearings on their situation. And across the country, adjuncts are unionizing in order to improve their plight, and to press for full-time tenure track positions that help create a proper learning environment for both students and faculty. As we repeatedly say, the conditions under which faculty work are the conditions under which students learn.
While we stand in solidarity with our colleagues, you have probably noticed that we have been relatively quiet on our campuses. There was no talk at all of our faculty participating in the “National Adjunct Walkout Day.”
Why? I think in large part it is because this System has not been as exploitative as many universities across the country. The pay at our universities is better than at most, and the System Universities provide benefits for full-time temporary faculty.
Consequently, I stand here today to say thank you for working with us to treat our temporary faculty members with a modicum of dignity. Thank you for working with us to maximize the opportunities for full-time employment with benefits. Thank you for working with us to provide a path, even if it is not perfect, for long-term adjuncts to join the tenure ranks.
However, there is still much room for the universities to improve their treatment of our temporary faculty. In my position, I have heard my share of horror stories of course loads being reduced so that a university does not have to pay benefits or does not have to consider a permanent position. Numerous faculty have been buried at the bottom of the pay scale despite their qualifications or their length of service.
I have witnessed adjunct faculty be displaced, even as they have singlehandedly built up their programs. The cost of benefits for part-time faculty continues to be exorbitant. And our adjuncts are too often marginalized, too easily displaced, and too often their work is underappreciated.
We must continue to work together so that the adjunct faculty we represent are treated with the dignity and respect that they rightfully deserve, and I look forward to that endeavor. Adjunct faculty working conditions are, indeed, student learning conditions.
I thank you for your time.