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APSCUF issued the following press release today about possible faculty layoffs:

For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Carrie Hillman 717-515-6846

Last Friday, the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF) received notice that Cheyney University and Shippensburg University are considering faculty layoffs at the end of the upcoming academic year.

“Our universities never seem to learn,” said Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF President. “Threatening to layoff faculty is not the way to improve the university or to improve enrollment.  Potential students do not want to enroll at a university that sends the message that their professor or their program may not be there the following year and existing students question their decisions to attend the university.”

The Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education had its budget cut by 18% in 2011, and the universities have been flat funded since. Over the last six years, the State System has placed over 160 programs in moratorium, reorganized another 90 programs, and created a mere 56 new academic programs. The eliminated programs included, among many others, foreign languages and other programs traditionally in the liberal arts. 

Shippensburg University has suffered enrollment declines over the last few years. “The leadership at Shippensburg ought to be pulling together its community to focus on its enrollment problems,” said Mash.  “This sort of announcement only demoralizes the campus, and it undermines the university’s overall attempt to increase enrollment.”

This is the fourth straight year Cheyney has considered faculty layoffs. “Cheyney University’s problems have been well documented. How heading down the path to layoffs will help its problems is baffling. It is particularly puzzling when one considers that the number of faculty has declined over the past seven years, but their management numbers have remained remarkably steady. It is unfathomable that Cheyney, which a few years ago had a 3:1 faculty to manager ratio, is now close to 2:1,” said Mash. 

“It should be clear that all of our universities should be supportive of Governor Wolf and his budget.  He has demonstrated his support of public higher education by committing to restoring the 2011 cuts over the next two years. Since 80 percent of our graduates remain in Pennsylvania, we absolutely want them to be prepared for the workforce. It is APSCUF’s hope that Governor Wolf and the General Assembly can come together to craft a budget that helps our students and their families.”   

Remarks of Dr. Kenneth M. Mash
Before the Board of Governors
July 9, 2015
Where Does the Money Go?

Chairman Pichini, Governors, Chancellor Brogan, University Presidents, and guests. I am Kenneth Mash, and I am the President of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.

We, APSCUF, have dedicated a lot of time and energy into trying to get a full picture of the finances of the State System and its fourteen great universities. Every time we think we have a handle on those resources, we are surprised to learn something new. Although we agree that the new dashboards are helpful tools, they do not begin to afford someone the full picture of what transpires.
I am certain that if I were to poll the members of the General Assembly, the students and their families who pay the tuition bills, and even members of the general public, they would think that there is an ever increasing amount of money that can be attributed to the costs of instruction, including the costs of salaries and benefits spent on faculty. They would certainly think that if they listened to the presentations given by a couple of the university presidents over the last week.

But if you manage to piece together bits and pieces of information, there is a very different story to tell. I will leave charts with the chair which demonstrate that compared to other 4-year public institutions, the state systems schools spend less, and in most cases far less of a percentage of their overall operating budgets on instruction, than the national average per full-time enrolled students. Furthermore, the majority of our institutions, with some notable exceptions, are spending even less of a percentage of their operating budgets on instruction than they did a few years back.

If that money is not going to instruction, where does the money go? Recent events have given us some clues to start to ferret out the answer. We have not yet gotten our secret decoder rings to figure it all out. But, for one thing, it is clear that money moves pretty freely out of the Education and General Funds at the universities into unrestricted plant funds and to affiliated organizations. We could add to those numbers growth in administration at most of our universities, including some that were simultaneously eliminating programs and laying off faculty.

Clearly the policies of previous governors have hurt our universities. The drastic cuts of the previous administration only tell a part of the story. A richer and more accurate story goes back to how money for capital projects was cut. It is important to understand how our universities were forced to increase matching funds for building projects while being generally ill equipped to raise those funds, how the debt for those projects taps into educational and general funds, and how Key 93 money was eliminated.

With one glaring exception, our universities have not shown themselves to be deft at raising money for building projects. But, why should they be? We are state-owned universities. When our universities “own” buildings, they do not truly own them. The Commonwealth does. Ultimately those buildings are assets of the Commonwealth. I dare say that the members of the General Assembly and perhaps the Governor, do not adequately understand the task that is laid at the feet of our university administrations. To be honest, I have my doubts about whether all members of the Board fully understand.

Regardless, it is clear that money that most would think is dedicated to things like instruction, intercollegiate athletics, academic support, security, residence life, etc. is going to construction. In fact, the matching policies of this Board, the Board’s allowance for the use of the affiliated organizations encourages this. Again and again plans are approved to make purchases without an adequate accounting to what will ultimately happen to those precious E&G funds.

This system’s mission continues to be to provide a high quality education at an affordable cost. Instruction lies at the core of a high quality education, and the university budgets need to reflect that. Ambiance is a key part of running a successful restaurant, but if you skimp on the food, the customers stop coming.

I sincerely hope that when the System puts in its next budget request that it asks for money for the area that seems to be draining its budget, that is, that there is a request for additional capital funds and debt relief for our universities. Until then, I would hope that this Board would ask more public questions about “where does the money go?”

Wednesday, 01 July 2015 11:09

Member Update: 2015-16 State Budget

June was a very busy month for the General Assembly. As you may know, the state budget deadline was June 30. Yesterday, the legislature sent a budget to Governor Wolf, which he immediately vetoed. In contrast to the Governor’s budget that called for a $45 million increase to the State System, this one only contained a 1.8% increase for basic education, and it increased the State System’s appropriation by 3%, or $12.3 million. These increases were far less that Governor Wolf’s proposed $45 million and the State System’s request of $50 million. In 2011, the State System suffered a $90 million, or 18% cut. The good news is that our advocates from both political parties in the legislature remembered that cut, and they were clearly pressing for increases. However, there was no additional money in the legislature’s budget for Cheyney University’s Keystone Honors Academy.

Given the Governor’s historic veto, all of the parties must go back to the drawing board to begin budget negotiations anew. Nobody knows (not even the key players) know how long, precisely, this budget impasse will last.

At yesterday’s Board of Governors meeting, the Office of the Chancellor stated that the State System could operate without the state appropriation through September. As this protracted budget debate continues, we will keep you informed of any progress. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to call your local legislator and urge them to work with the Governor to craft a budget that more fully invests in education generally, and in public higher education, specifically.

Remarks of Dr. Kenneth M. Mash
Before the Board of Governors
June 30, 2015
Whither Cheyney University?

Chairman Pichini, Governors, Chancellor Brogan, University Presidents, and guests. I am Kenneth Mash, and I am the President of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.

A few Januarys ago, around the time of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, a group of Cheyney faculty and I asked the members of the board to pay closer attention to what was happening there. Cheyney University, its students, its faculty and coaches, its mission, and those students it could potentially serve have not left our minds. In fact, for decades the university has been at the forefront of APSCUF’s concerns. APSCUF leaders from decades ago have told me that it seems that little has changed at the university.

Cheyney University’s problems have been well documented. So well documented that legislators, members of the administration, and average people ask about it routinely. And people consistently ask, “Whose fault is it?”

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Too many have turned the other cheek. “They” have allowed things to occur at Cheyney that would not have been acceptable at other universities. “They” have allowed Cheyney students to not have the same opportunities as students at other universities. “They” have allowed the faculty to toil in conditions that would be intolerable at other institutions. That the students, faculty, coaches, and staff there continue to achieve, in some cases in remarkable ways, says something about the underlying spirit of that university. And it says something about a mission that cannot be left to die. “They” is, of course, “we.” We all bear responsibility for what has occurred at that university, for none of us should have rested. We have all failed that university.

I understand that the System has sent personnel and resources to Cheyney on several occasions for months on end. I understand that there has been intervention. But those interventions were mere band aids for broad, very serious systemic problems. I understand that the other universities have lent money to Cheyney and will, we hope, again do so. But forcing the university to continually operate under a dependency relationship without a plan for success is not a viable option.

I want to commend Chancellor Brogan and members of this board for stepping up to the plate and facing the problems head on in a way that has not happened heretofore.

I do believe that he and members of the board are intent on taking serious action. We have seen the letters that have gone out from the System, Cheyney, and West Chester. And part of it is encouraging. Collaboration truly is one of the great hallmarks of academia, and there is plenty of room for additional collaboration between those two great institutions; it should have been occurring for decades.

Yet APSCUF, outside associations, including national ones, and other interested persons who truly care about the institution are apprehensive. There is a tremendous difference between collaboration and takeover. There is a big difference between empowering an institution and reducing it down to irrelevance. We have questions about the plans, and we look forward to additional conversations.

We are well aware of those who would just as soon close Cheyney University. We are well aware of those who question whether a HBCU has relevance today. Setting aside the cynicism and potential covert racist overtones of those questions, let us all agree that Cheyney’s historic mission is as important today as it has ever been.

To deny Cheyney’s mission is to deny that the Commonwealth’s largest city cries out for a university that can nurture students and ease the path from secondary to higher education.

It is to ignore that there are countless people in the workforce who would like the opportunity to return to college to better their lives.

It is to ignore that that Philadelphia’s high school students need help gaining access to dual enrollment opportunities.

It is to ignore that there are opportunities there for advanced technical education.

It is to ignore the opportunities in that city and the surrounding area for articulation agreements with community colleges.

The list could go on….

Enormous potential exists to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and we have a university ideally suited to work; that the university is underused is nothing short of tragic.

We look forward to the details of the plan. We look forward to answers. But the time has come to not dwell on failure. It is not time to think that saving money at that university is the path to success; institutions cannot save their way out of structural deficits.

The time is now is for bold thinking. It is time for us to embrace even more of Cheyney’s mission. It is time for us to see the university for what it is – a tremendous resource for the Commonwealth.

If we fail to do so, the fault, dear Chancellor, Mr. Chairman, Governors, University Presidents, Governor Wolf, Members of the General Assembly, will lie, not in our stars, but in ourselves.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and State System negotiators met today, Friday, June 19, 2015 at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg. The two sides discussed system budgeting and transparency and engaged in further conversations specific to meeting the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Negotiations are scheduled to continue July 2, 2015 at the APSCUF office in Harrisburg.

The APSCUF and State System negotiators met for a third joint bargaining session on Monday, June 15, 2015, at the State APSCUF office in Harrisburg. After discussing certain aspects of the impact of the Affordable Care Act for coaches, APSCUF shared a limited number of non-economic proposals. Part of the conversation focused on APSCUF's desire to improve job security. The negotiators are scheduled to meet again on June 29, 2015 at the State APSCUF office.

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Harrisburg PA 17101
717-236-7486 or 800-932-0587
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