Helen Bieber, an APSCUF member for more than three decades and state secretary since 1998, retires this summer.
When delegates convene for legislative assembly in September, a familiar face will be missing from the front of the room. Helen Bieber, statewide secretary for 18 years, retires from Kutztown University this summer.
“She’s been involved for so long,” said Don Mayer, a retired Shippensburg University professor and APSCURF delegate who worked with Bieber on faculty negotiations teams. “It’s not going to be the same.”
But APSCUF itself is not the same as it was when Bieber joined in 1982.
“When I sit up there (at legislative assembly) and I look out at the delegates, I think the makeup of the delegates has certainly changed,” she said.
There are more women, Bieber observed of LA attendees and executive council members.
“Our mission hasn’t really changed,” she said. “I think our challenges have changed, and so we’ve had to adapt — to face the challenges.”
And to face them together, she said.
“It’s faculty looking out for faculty,” she said of APSCUF. “We all have the same vested interest. If there’s somebody that is in need of some help, you have an entire union behind you.”
Bieber has lived that tenet since childhood.
“Dad was a shop steward,” she said. “I remember at one point, his union went on strike, and he was ill and not able to walk the picket line. I walked it for him. He was bound and determined that there would be a Clinton that was on the line.
“Unionism has always been very strong in our family. That was just something that he instilled in me.”
Bieber contributed to such solidarity in her time with APSCUF, colleagues said.
“Helen has been someone everyone could depend upon no matter the issue or problem,” said Ruth Perkins, assistant professor and research services librarian at Kutztown, who has known Bieber about 10 years. “Helen doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. The value of that trait was an important lesson.”
Such action is critical, Bieber agreed.
“Bad things happen if good people sit there and say nothing,” she said. “Everybody can sit and complain, but nothing is going to change if people don’t step forward to make the change. Everybody needs to have involvement more so than just being a member. Being an active member is really what’s more important.”
Bieber said she won’t be completely absent from the organization once she has more time for trips to Mexico. She plans to participate in APSCUF’s retirement arm, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Retired Faculties.
“I think I’d be drawn and quartered if I didn’t,” she said.
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An active member
Helen Bieber, an APSCUF member for more than three decades, has served on executive council since 1998 — a total of nine terms. She worked on the faculty negotiations team for the 2003–07 and 2007–11 contracts and chaired ad hoc committees on video conferencing and telecommunications. This on top of duties as department chair of Kutztown’s department of electronic media.
She also has deep roots in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from Clarion University, and she taught at Indiana University of Pennsylvania before Kutztown hired her.
APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash spoke last week on The Rick Smith Show about higher-education funding. Click here to listen to his complete interview.
This week, WESA in Pittsburgh talked with Mash about universities transitioning to per-credit tuition. Click here to listen to his complete segment. (Pro-per-credit tuition sources declined to be interviewed.)
Click here to read APSCUF's position statement on per-credit tuition programs.
Click here to read APSCUF's press release about today's contract negotiations.
Here’s the slate of officers elected at APSCUF's April legislative assembly:
President: Dr. Kenneth M. Mash (East Stroudsburg)
Vice president: Jamie Martin (Indiana)
Secretary: Michele Papakie (Indiana)
Treasurer: Chris Hallen (Bloomsburg)
Coach executive leader: John Gump (Kutztown)
Audit committee: Eric Hawrelak (Bloomsburg), B.J. Mullaney (Cheyney); and Itzi Meztli (Slippery Rock)
Budget committee: Debra Cornelius (Shippensburg) Joe Miele (East Stroudsburg), and Susan Drummond (Indiana)
From left are former APSCUF President William Fulmer, Clarion University; former Mansfield University field hockey coach Diane Monkiewicz, who introduced Distinguished Service Award winner Betty Wesner; Wesner; and APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash. Photo/Kathryn Morton
Betty Wesner won APSCUF’s Distinguished Service Award — which is given to members who voluntarily contribute their time and skills to the functions of APSCUF at the statewide level — at the organization's legislative assembly in State College last week.
Wesner is retired from Kutztown University, where she was field hockey coach. Click here to read more about her.
For some, this was a final legislative assembly in their current leadership positions. State President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash expressed his appreciation for the service of: Steve Hicks, immediate past state president, of Lock Haven; Helen Bieber, secretary, retiring from Kutztown; Beth MacDaniel, chapter president, retiring from Clarion; Jean Jones, chapter president, retiring from Edinboro; Brendan Finucane, Shippensburg chapter president, who did not run for reelection; Mark Staszkiewicz, chapter president, retiring from Indiana; Keith White of Kutztown, stepping down from his position as coach executive leader; and Paul Quinn, outgoing Kutztown chapter president.
Delegates at APSCUF’s legislative assembly last week in State College approved two position statements, posted now on the APSCUF website.
Degrees of Value report
The first statement, approved unanimously, regarded the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Degrees of Value report.
“At this point, the purpose of the Degrees of Value document appears to be an indictment of not only the liberal arts majors but also a signal that proposed changes are on the way,” the statement concludes. “The document is a leverage tool. All faculty should familiarize themselves with the report and be prepared to respond.”
Read APSCUF’s complete response, which includes points for faculty members to make when discussing the report with students, by clicking here.
At budget-appropriations hearings last month, legislators in the House and Senate lauded so-called pilot per-credit tuition programs, already implemented at Millersville University and set to begin at Indiana University in the fall.
Rep. Keith J. Greiner said he was impressed with the preliminary data and sees advantages to Millersville University’s program:
Sen. Lloyd Smucker later called it “very innovative”:
State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan said, “We found that it was having either no impact, negative, or positive impact in some of the issues that we reviewed.”
APSCUF faculty and coaches, tasked with providing quality, affordable education for their students, disagree. (So does this IUP parent, in this letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)
An overwhelming majority of delegates approved APSCUF’s stance on per-credit tuition.
A bit of background: APSCUF delegates last year unanimously approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on per-credit pilots.
For a student taking 15 hours, a per-credit tuition programs increases the scholar’s tuition by 25 percent. For 18 hours, tuition goes up 50 percent from the previous flat rate.
“These pilot programs come at a time when the average Pennsylvania student already graduates from the State System with over $30,000 in debt,” the 2015 resolution reads. “From a national perspective, Pennsylvania ranks third-highest in student loan debt. Nearly 80 percent of PASSHE students accept some form of financial aid. These tuition increases will place an even greater financial burden on students and their families.”
This year’s position statement succinctly restates APSCUF’s opposition to the programs:
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties confirms its opposition to per-credit tuition programs, and we reaffirm that the obligation to adequately fund public higher education rests squarely with the Pennsylvania General Assembly.