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.
During Februrary's Legislative Assembly, APSCUF delegates approved the following resolution:
Whereas music is an important academic discipline, one of the critical subject areas recognized as part of the quadrivium by classical scholars,
Whereas contemporary research has proven that the study of music substantially enhances general intellectual development,
Whereas no “alignment plan” has been presented showing that Music does not aid the University in the fulfillment of its academic mission,
Whereas student demand for General Education offerings at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) remains strong,
Whereas the ESU administration based its decision to eliminate Music as a department and to delete General Education music courses on faulty budget projections, which forecasted a $7.6 million deficit for 2013-14 before a $3 million surplus was submitted in the final budget,
Whereas no budgetary deficit for the current year is projected,
Whereas this decision will eliminate a number of excellent musical groups and ensembles, including the ESU Orchestra and the nationally recognized ESU Chorale Ensemble.
Whereas ESU’s music program has provided especially strong ties to the community, expressed by energetic, emotional testimony at recent Council of Trustees public meetings,
Whereas, to date, more than 1000 have signed a petition urging the President of East Stroudsburg University to end her plans to eliminate Music,
Whereas eliminating music at ESU unjustly causes the retrenchment of two tenured faculty,
Be it resolved, that the Legislative Assembly of APSCUF supports the importance of Music as a discipline at East Stroudsburg and at all of our public universities and APSCUF urges Governor Wolf, Chancellor Brogan, the Trustees of East Stroudsburg University and President Welsh to retain the tenured music faculty and to maintain credit-bearing music courses at East Stroudsburg University and throughout our public university system.
by Andrew Kissinger, Intern
A few weeks ago, APSCUF held its 181st meeting of the Legislative Assembly. During this time, delegates from each of the 14 universities converge to discuss ideas, receive reports from statewide committees, and vote on both organizational policy changes and resolutions. One such resolution – a moratorium on the per-credit tuition pilot proposals – passed unanimously. The resolution reads:
"APSCUF requests that the Board of Governors refrain from approving any additional undergraduate per-credit tuition pilot programs until there is enough time to study the effects of the already approved pilots."
The pilot programs already in place at Clarion and Millersville Universities will, according to the Board of Governors, help these schools generate new revenue. Next fall, similar programs will be implemented at Bloomsburg University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), potentially generating $3 million a year for three years, which will be paid by State System students and their families.
The widespread implementation of such pilots without knowledge of their full impact is irresponsible. Act 188, which created the State System and the Board of Governors, clearly dictates that the system is "to provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students."
As it stands currently, a student at Bloomsburg taking 12-18 credits per semester pays an annual tuition rate of $6,820. Under the per-credit pricing model, a student taking 12 credits will still pay $6,820, but a student who wishes to take 15 credits – the number necessary to graduate in four years – will pay an annual rate of $8,520, an increase of $1,700 or 25 percent. A student taking 18 credits will pay $10,224 annually, a staggering $3,404 – or 50 percent – increase in one year.
One must wonder if these programs help or hinder the mission of the State System under Act 188. These pilot programs come at a time when the average Pennsylvania student already graduates from the State System with over $30,000 in debt. 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.
When the State System was created in 1982, the Commonwealth covered 65 percent of college costs. Today, state financial support covers a mere 25 percent of college costs, an abysmal number that will plummet even with the institution of these pilot programs.
The delegates of APSCUF show resolve in asking the Board of Governors to halt these tuition pilots. It is more than reasonable to request and study the impact of the established pilots before similar programs are established at any other universities.
by Jonathan Persinger, Communications Specialist
It is with great sadness that we at APSCUF wish to pay tribute to Professor Burrell Brown: educator, civil rights leader, California University Chapter President, Statewide Vice President, member of the Executive Council, negotiations team member, colleague, husband, father, grandfather, and friend.
Burrell’s contributions to California University of Pennsylvania, where he taught since 1989 as a professor of Business and Economics, are unquantifiable. He was described by his students as a down-to-earth instructor who would always do everything in his power to help, and his colleagues routinely described him as a man who cared enormously about his students. As both a professor and a Department Chair, Dr. Brown was known for his feverish work ethic and his strong sense of commitment. In every sense of the word, he was a leader.
The epitome of a union stalwart, Burrell’s tireless involvement with APSCUF included serving on four negotiation teams, chairing the Health Care Cost Containment Committee, serving as statewide Vice President, and — most recently — serving as Faculty Officer-at-Large for the Executive Council and chair of the personnel committee. Over the last several months, he had taken on working with faculty at Cheyney University, which he visited frequently, to assist our faculty with the many complex issues on that campus. A visit from Dr. Brown to the State APSCUF Office was always appreciated by his colleagues and APSCUF staff. Though always hard at work — often seen writing fervently before a meeting even began — he easily built a feeling of camaraderie with all who worked with him. In all he did, his caring, his devotion, and his integrity burned brightly.
“He was the kind of person you could call friend, and you’d know he’d be there to have your back at any time,” said Bill Chabala, Burrell’s friend and fellow negotiations team member. “He was extremely thoughtful and extremely optimistic. Even when faced with challenges, he could keep people calm, analyze a situation, and come up with a win-win.”
Burrell’s other achievements were just as great — if not greater — than those within academia. He was very passionate about civil rights, heavily involved with a number of organizations dedicated to the success of African-Americans. These accomplishments included serving for 20 years on the Legal Counsel to the Pennsylvania State NAACP, and being a founding member of the National Black MBA’s Pittsburgh chapter. Burrell helped found the Homer S. Brown Law Association, an organization dedicated to formulating goals for African-American lawyers, law students, and the community at large. He also served as President for all three of these organizations.
Other organizations of which he was a member included the Governor Advisory Commission on African American Affairs and the Interbranch Commission on Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness, on which he served as Chair.
His ceaseless work and achievement both in the academic field and outside of it won Burrell numerous awards, some of which included the Pennsylvania NAACP President Service Award, the California University Award for Distinguished Service, and recognition in Who’s Who in America. Though these accolades were deserved, it was Dr. Brown’s tireless passion for teaching, as well as writing and speaking on diversity, which motivated him to attain such success.
The loss of a man with the character, spirit, and heart of Burrell Brown is an enormous loss to the organizations and communities of which he will always remain a part. The basis of a union is solidarity, to come together and stand strong in the face of immense hardship. Truly, this loss is the greatest hardship we at APSCUF could face. We will stand strong together, union brothers and sisters, colleagues and friends, and we will remember fondly and be motivated by the life and accomplishments of Professor Burrell Brown.
by Jonathan Persinger, Communications Specialist
Professor Helen Bieber, Secretary of the Executive Council and Chairperson of Kutztown University’s Electronic Media Department, has experienced a number of turns in her career of more than 35 years. She’s worked teaching 8th and 9th grade math, producing local programming, for the Miami Herald, and teaching video production/communication law at the college level. In 2013, she even brought home a Crystal Pillar award to Kutztown.
Not only is she secretary on the Executive Council — which works to make sure the policies and instructions of the Legislative Assembly are carried out — but she is the longest-serving member of the EC in its history.
As Secretary of the Executive Council, Bieber’s duties include maintaining a record of EC meetings and assemblies, along with roll call and ensuring proper and accurate counting during votes and elections. With the help of APSCUF’s Lisa Demko, she ensures accurate minutes and documents are kept.
Bieber first became associated with APSCUF when Jim Tinsman, former State President and KU faculty member, encouraged younger members of the faculty to become involved at the state level.
“He called me personally and first got me involved with an ad hoc committee,” Bieber said. “Which led me to becoming an alternate delegate, then a delegate, after which I made a decision to run for office. The rest, as they say…is history.”
Bieber hasn’t spent her entire career in education. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Mathematics from Clarion University, she taught 8th and 9th grade math. While pursing graduate education, her previous experience as a student worker in Clarion’s College of Communications led her to pursue an assistantship and a master’s in communication from her alma mater.
But even when working in cable production and at the Miami Herald, Bieber couldn’t shake the desire to teach. She became involved with a Junior Achievement program in order to teach young people about video production.
“I ended up leaving my job, going to the University of Miami for a semester teaching Video Production courses, decided to stay in higher education, and never looked back,” Bieber said. “I knew I had to teach.”
These practical experiences have led Bieber to take a hands-on approach in regard to teaching.
“For students to understand the intricacies, the aesthetics, the process…they have to do it themselves, get their hands-on practice, critique themselves and each other and improve,” Bieber said. “Being able to say that I’ve been there and done that lends some credibility to what I’m teaching.”
In addition to her classes and EC duties, Bieber is heavily involved with student media productions at KU. In 2013, she and her students were awarded a Crystal Pillar award by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Her students swept the nominations
“I have been assured that the members judge our students on the same criteria as is used for judging entries of professionals,” Bieber said. “We’re not cut any slack because they were student productions. So that was a tremendous boost and a validation of our work and our students’ talent.”
Having put in more than 30 years at KU, Bieber hopes to make sure that when she leaves her department, it is left in good hands and with a solid footing. In the meantime, she offers some advice for students pursuing a career in video production.
“More and more companies are looking for means to get their messages out. Don’t feel the only doors open are the traditional ones,” Bieber said. “Students need to pursue what they’re interested in. The opportunities may not knock a second time.”
Helen Bieber currently teaches at Kutztown University. You can find more information on her courses & her work at the KU Department of Electronic Media website.