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APSCUF issued the following press release today in response to yesterday's retrenchment letters: 

Harrisburg – Yesterday, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) announced that five of the 14 state-owned universities are considering faculty layoffs at the end of the upcoming academic year.

The universities considering retrenchment include Mansfield, Edinboro, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, and Cheyney. These five universities account for over 20 percent of the approximately 6,000 faculty the State System employs. APSCUF remains hopeful that the administrations and PASSHE will reconsider this potentially devastating path to “fiscal solvency.”

During the ‘11 – ‘12 fiscal year, Governor Corbett slashed the budget for the State System by $90 million, and the System has been flat funded since. The consequences of that cut are again being realized now as students may see a loss of faculty and a reduction of key programs and courses.

“We thought we were done,” said Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF President. “Our universities and faculty have been consistently asked to do more with less. The reality is that we can’t. Faculty have been laid off, programs have been eliminated and put into moratorium. We have reached the point of doing less with less to the detriment of our students and their educational experience.”

Over the last five years, PASSHE has placed approximately 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.

“Public higher education is clearly not one of the Governor’s priorities,” said Mash. “You can’t remove $90 million in funding from a system and expect that system to continue sustaining the caliber of education that our students deserve.”

“We received Governor Corbett’s anti public higher education message loud and clear,” said Mash. “Our students and their families deserve quality, affordable higher education at an affordable price tag. His cuts have not only destroyed programs and reduced faculty, but he has also taxed students and their families through increased tuition."

PASSHE Chancellor, Frank. T. Brogan and the university presidents stated that the current possibility of layoffs is also due to program realignment to better serve the Commonwealth’s needs in workforce readiness. “Talking about program realignment and strategic vision in a vacuum is unreasonably simplistic. It is not coincidental that these are the same universities that wanted to retrench last year because of ‘financial considerations.’ We are cutting faculty and programs that CEOs say students need in the workforce.”

“Eighty percent of our graduates remain in Pennsylvania, and we absolutely want them to be prepared for the workforce. The only sensible answer is that the System needs to be properly funded. We need our legislators and our Governor to truly support the Commonwealth’s future,” said Mash.

There is a national trend in which institutions of higher education deny their adjunct faculty quality wages and benefits. The calculation of credit hours results in pay almost equal to the minimum wage at most fast food and retail locations. With such inequalities, many adjuncts are left to wonder how to make ends meet.

At this moment, there is an online petition asking David Weil, Director of the Wage and Hour Division in the U.S. Department of Labor, to “open an investigation into the labor practices of our colleges and universities in the employment of contingent faculty.” Please read Dr. Seth Kahn’s guest blog on Academe titled Why you should sign a petition calling for the Department of Labor to investigate contingent faculty working conditions. Dr. Kahn is an English professor and APSCUF member at West Chester University.

You can add your name to this very important measure by clicking here.

by Prince Matthews, APSCUF intern

Yesterday, I was telling my site supervisors that the APSCUF internship was my favorite internship to date. When asked why, I couldn’t give a specific answer so on the spot I decided to create a list highlighting the benefits of interning at APSCUF.

1. The staff at APSCUF are awesome and will treat you with the utmost respect. From the President to the other intern, everyone you’ll meet at APSCUF will treat you with respect and is glad to have you here as an addition to the team. The sense of belonging here is like no other. They are all really good at what they do, and have valuable information and interesting stories to share. In short…they’re awesome!

2. You get to work for a union that represents the faculty and coaches who helped you become the person you are today. Can you name a better internship to be passionate about? There’s no better feeling than being passionate about helping the people who were passionate about helping you. Interning for APSCUF will hit home in more ways than you could imagine.

3. You get to work with people who have similar but different stories from you. Having supervisors who are graduates of PASSHE universities gives you a greater sense of direction when it comes to entering the workforce. There’s nothing more insightful than getting the play-by-play of how your supervisors transitioned from the academic world to theReceiving such information can give you great ideas on how to pave your own journey to success.

4. You get to spend valuable time in the Pennsylvania Capitol building. If you love politics, you’ll love being in the Capitol building. There you will have the opportunity to meet legislators, government officials, lobbyists, tourists, and anyone in between. There is never a dull day, and there’s never a bland night.

5. There’s plenty of networking opportunities. During your tenure as an APSCUF intern, you get to attend countless meetings and events that can give you access to valuable networking opportunities.

6. You will learn new skills. One of the most valuable attributes about the internship is that you will get to learn new skills that have real-world use. By learning new skills, you are taken out of your comfort zone temporarily to grow as a professional forever. It also helps you build confidence and courage for completing new task in the future. Learning valuable skills now can land you a valuable position later.

7. You get your own workspace. As an aspiring young professional who is eager to get into the workforce, having your own office to work in is truly underrated and simply motivational.

8. You get to engage in valuable research projects. Here at APSCUF, interns have the opportunity to complete valuable research that looks promising to employers, great on a resume, and even better to graduate programs.

9. You can earn academic credit. Need a break from campus but still want to earn credits applicable to your graduation requirements? Intern for APSCUF.

10. You get paid! Unfortunately, not all internships are paid internships. However, here at APSCUF you will get the work experience you need and the money you deserve; it kills two birds with one stone!

PASSHE Board of Governors
Remarks of Kenneth M. Mash, Ph.D.
July 8, 2014

Chairman Pichini, Members of the Board, Chancellor Brogan,

My name is Kenneth Mash and I am the president of the APSCUF. I am proud to represent the approximately 6,000 faculty and coaches who are the heart of what we do at our 14 great universities.

Every day at those institutions, every one of them, your faculty and coaches are the ones who deliver to the students the promise of a quality higher education. Every day at our universities, our coaches are challenging their student athletes to be the best that they can be. Every day at our universities, faculty help students transform themselves into mature citizens.  Every day at our universities, there are faculty and coaches going the extra mile to help students reach their potentials.  Every day at our universities, there are faculty guiding their students into the workforce. Every day at our universities, faculty are engaged in groundbreaking research, and they do so despite the limited resources at their disposal. These are the stories that must be told.

The vibrancy, the buzz at our universities is something to behold. Excellence thrives at all of our campuses across the Commonwealth. Our students succeed. Every day at our universities, our students do amazing things, they reach new heights, exceed expectations, and our alumni go on to highly successful careers. 

Our universities, as study after study shows, return back to our communities and to the state far more than they receive in allocation dollars. They have also done more with less to the breaking point. 

These are the stories that need to be told loudly and broadly. 

Today, the PASSHE Board of Governors met at its quarterly meeting to consider the 2014-15 budget, increases in tuition and technology fees, and a host of other policy issues that will impact students and faculty. Major policy changes approved included:

  • Setting tuition for 2014-15 at $6,830—a three percent or $198 increase over last year.
  • Increasing the technology fee by $54 per student.
  • Approving more tuition flexibility pilot programs for East Stroudsburg, Millersville, Mansfield and Cheyney Universities.
  • Approving the imposition of additional program-specific fees at Edinboro University for Arts and Nursing programs, including a nursing fee equal to 25 percent of tuition.
  • Lifting the 12 credit cap on Lock Haven’s per credit educational services fee.
  • Allowing Mansfield to set specific high-cost program fees.
  • Creating a new Protection of Minors policy that spells out duties of all employees including faculty when it comes to handling abuse of minors on campus. The policy outlines employee responsibilities in the areas of training for child abuse prevention, interacting with minors, and mandatory reporting of child abuse.
  • Changing the Board of Governors by-laws related to voting.

APSCUF President, Kenneth M. Mash addressed the board regarding the continued acceptance of flat funding from the state after a $90 million cut and demanded greater advocacy by the State System to legislators and the public. Without an increase in tuition/fees and further cuts, the State System will be operating with a $58 million deficit with flat funding from the state.

Mash stated that the universities cannot ride out this storm by simply passing the burden of cost onto the students through tuition increases, creating a patchwork of additional fees, and asking Presidents to cut programs, services, and faculty and staff further. Citing the clear return on investment the Commonwealth receives from investing in PASSHE, Mash called for our story to be heard to avoid these pitfalls in the future (flat funding, increasing tuition, and asking universities to cut more.)

An example of the cuts on campus can be found in the list of programs placed in moratorium in just the past six months, which was outlined during this week’s meetings. According to the State System, 33 programs have already been placed into moratorium (with a heavy amount coming from foreign language programs.) If PASSHE is not responsive to the call for greater advocacy, this list will only get bigger. 

To read the entire Board of Governors agenda, please click here. 

By: Ken Mash, APSCUF President

As our attention has been focused on the goings on surrounding the budget battles in Harrisburg, including against a cut to PASSHE’s appropriation, fighting off paycheck deception, and working to preserve pensions, an even bigger storm brews in Washington, D.C.

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court justices will likely announce their opinion in Harris v. Quinn, a case in which a conservative majority could potentially, in a worst-case scenario, find non-member, fair-share fees to be unconstitutional.  Such a ruling would deprive unions of revenue because non-members would then be able to free ride on the backs of members and benefit from the hard work that we and our fellow unions, e.g., PSEA, AFSCME, PFT, and SEIU, put in on behalf of all members of our bargaining units.

Should that storm come we will redouble our efforts so that we persevere.  The truth is that we can do little to control what happens at the Court.  However, you can still have an impact on what happens in Harrisburg by reaching out to your representatives. In the meanwhile, keep your eyes on our capitals, both Harrisburg and Washington.

For more information on Harris v. Quinn see:

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/06/samuel-alito-harris-quinn-supreme-court-union

http://www.vox.com/2014/6/3/5775516/the-supreme-court-could-cut-union-membership-in-half

 

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