by Jonathan Persinger, Communications Specialist
Professor Helen Bieber, Secretary of the Executive Committee 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 Committee—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 Committee, 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.
Earlier today, the Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, released an audit of Cheyney University. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and Universities Faculties (APSCUF) represents the over 6,000 faculty and coaches of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), including over 100 faculty and coaches at Cheyney.
APSCUF President, Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, issued the following statement about the audit:
“The 18% cut to Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities in 2011 has caused significant damage to our colleges and our students. It should come as no surprise that Cheyney University, the smallest of our universities, faces dire circumstances. This cut began a vicious cycle. It’s hard to attract and retain quality students without adequate funding. Low enrollment then leads to even less funding for the university. It is tragic that this cut would threaten the existence of the Commonwealth’s only state-owned Historically Black College and University (HBCU) – the oldest HBCU in the country.
“While the financial situation at Cheyney is indeed dire, it is not fatal. All parties – lawmakers, the State System of Higher Education, students, faculty, and administrators – must come together to preserve a university that has an important role in the 21st century. It is a place that is uniquely positioned to provide opportunities for students to succeed. Cheyney’s faculty are actively involved in ensuring student success.
“Every one of our 14 universities has struggled as a result of the 2011 cuts. Key programs have been eliminated, class sizes have grown, and student services have been reduced. At the same time, the costs to students have escalated. At the system’s inception, the state covered 75% of the costs of college. Today, that state support has dwindled to 23%, shifting the burden to students and their families.
“The solution for Cheyney, as I see it, is two-fold: increase the state appropriation to the state system, and second, take immediate measures to increase enrollment. APSCUF and our faculty across the system are committed to do whatever we can to see both happen. Cheyney University is a Pennsylvania jewel, and we look forward to working with the Chancellor, University officials, lawmakers, Governor-Elect Wolf, and all others who respect the university’s past, as well as its future.”
On Friday morning, December 12, 2014, negotiators representing the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and the State System of Higher Education met in Harrisburg. The collective bargaining agreement between the parties expires on June 30, 2015. APSCUF's negotiators focused on the Association's priorities of ensuring the availability of quality public higher education for Pennsylvania's working families and the ongoing need to attract and maintain high quality faculty to service students at Pennsylvania's 14 public universities. On Friday, APSCUF also announced that APSCUF Vice President Jamie S. Martin, Ph.D. of Indiana University of Pennsylvania will serve as the faculty negotiations team chairperson. Negotiators will next meet on March 20, 2015.
Legendary jazz artist, Phil Woods, wrote the following letter to President Welsh about keeping all music alive at East Stroudsburg University (ESU), including their choir. If you have not done so already, please consider signing the change.org petition to Save ESU Music. Also, you can find up-to-date information on the Save ESU Facebook page.
This is an appeal for James Maroney and the American Songbook.
I know that ESU can exist without a military band marching around urging young brutes to inflict concussions on each other. And terminating the jazz department is understood – it will be extinct soon due to a lack of interest and extreme fossilization. But it seems rather short sighted to cut a program that is America’s only original art form.
And a school without songs is doomed. Amusing aside: music schools don’t have school songs or football teams.
But a University without vocal music would be barren indeed. I cannot imagine no Gershwin, no Porgy, no Bess? No cowardly Lion? No Ellington sacred music? No Chanson d’amor? No Sondheim? No “America the Beautiful” by Irving Berlin? Just the awful “Star Bangled Banner”? No Bernstein “West Side Story”. No “Carousel” or “Oklahoma”? No Judy singing “Have Your Self a Merry Little Christmas” and “Easter Parade” is a deal-breaker. I for one need calendared reminders.
So what is left but a bunch of hip-hoppers and rappers with guitars turned up to 11!
The bebop grapevine says you are firing all music people then re-staffing when needed. I would suggest keeping Prof James Maroney. He is one of the finest vocal teachers I have ever known and I have met many. He recently took his ESU choral group to the White House. D. C. loved it.
Please keep Jim Maroney
by Jonathan Persinger, Communications Specialist
After serving as APSCUF President for six years, Dr. Steve Hicks has returned to teaching English at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. His time with State APSCUF was an interesting one, and the acclimation process of returning to teaching has offered its own challenges & rewards.
Hicks took an interest in the field of English early on, being a voracious reader as well as editor of his high school newspaper. This led to an English degree, followed by a career in teaching. His affinity for APSCUF came from a simple place: the desire to help.
"I think it is important to help people, and that's central to APSCUF's mission," Hicks said. "I also am a big advocate for shared governance, and that's another aspect of our mission."
Hicks has been involved with APSCUF in some capacity for seventeen years. While he never expected to serve as State APSCUF President, he would go on to run three times before being succeeded by his Vice President – and the current President – Dr. Kenneth M. Mash. His tenure encompassed a number of major moments for the organization.
"Not much can beat the relief of the faculty contract settlement in February '13 after over two years of negotiating," Hicks said. "Close behind is settling the coaches contract in December '12. Both came from long sessions at the table. For faculty, it was two days of almost 15 hours each; with coaches, it was by far the longest single day of discussions."
He also fondly remembers APSCUF's organizing work in 2011, focused on Governor Corbett's proposed 50% cut to the PASSHE budget.
"The staff, faculty, and coaches did a lot of push-back, including our largest rally ever on the Capitol steps, with hundreds of attendees. That day was a big triumph and showed us we could organize and have a big visual impact on the Hill. "
Though he has left Harrisburg, Hicks's work with the organization continues. Upon returning to teaching, he began a two-year term on the Executive Council. Under the request of President Mash, he remains a liaison to CFHE (the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education) and the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in the Academy. He also serves on the local Executive Council and the local Meet & Discuss team.
Hicks has found his return to the classroom both "amazingly familiar and challengingly new." He returns to a largely-unchanged department of faculty, along with the same office and same desk he left six years before. However, not everything has remained as it was.
"The online education software, D2L, changed shortly after I left, so figuring it out has been a challenge," Hicks said of the many external changes he faces. "In fact, today, I have a voicemail, but can't get to it because the password is a mystery to me."
Hicks himself has changed, bringing with him lessons learned from his time at APSCUF.
"I learned, in a very tangible way, the value of communication, not just how but how often and in what form. I also learned something about the shifting sands of politics – you can't always be an ideologue and get things done."
He also finds himself more comfortable in front of a class, having made many public appearances during his time as President.
Hicks hopes that in the next year, APSCUF can restore some of the budget cut in 2011, as well as settle the faculty and coach collective bargaining agreements which both terminate in summer of '15.
His personal plans include recruiting students for a summer program to London. He is also co-editor of the Journal for Collective Bargaining in the Academy (JCBA), which is sponsored by the National Center, and is working on an article regarding collective bargaining agreements with faculty after the 2008 Recession. Courses taught by Hicks this semester include Composition, Introduction to Literature, English Literature Before 1800, and an independent study on Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.
In his free time, Hicks loves to read, travel, and play golf. Despite his best efforts this summer, his golf game remains "nowhere near where I would like it to be." He also credits his wife, Karen, as one of the most important fixtures in his life.
"Karen is not just a great life companion and love, but one of those people who is always so positive and supportive you feel good about whatever you do," Hicks said. "Without her, my life would have been a much less full and focused thing."
by Jonathan Persinger, Communications Specialist
Fighting for the rights of faculty members and the education of students is important to any member of the Executive Council, but their lives do not begin and end with APSCUF. For example, it may be no surprise that Jamie Martin, vice president of APSCUF, teaches criminology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. You might not expect, however, that she has published a book, that she once worked in juvenile corrections, or that her house is home to three parrots, three dogs, three chameleons, and a snake.
Martin is currently serving a two-year term as vice president after one year as an At-Large member of the EC. She serves as President Kenneth M. Mash’s designee on Statewide Meet & Discuss, and on the Coaches Negotiation Team. She has also been ratified by the Legislative Assembly to serve on the Faculty Negotiations Team.
Her interest in the union side of education did not fully manifest until later in her career.
“After our children were grown, I began to take a more active role in my local chapter of APSCUF,” Martin said. “As I got more involved at the local level, I understood how important the union is, and the importance of insuring the rights of faculty are protected.”
Though she is now heavily involved in the field, her career did not begin in education.
“I was initially drawn to [criminology] because my parents thought it was a bad idea,” Martin joked. “I had a great interest in trying to understand what led individuals to become involved in delinquent and/or criminal behavior. When I completed my undergraduate degree, I worked as a juvenile probation officer, and I also worked in the community mental health field.”
While working in mental health, Martin completed her master’s degree and shifted her sights toward teaching.
That fascination with the causes of criminal behavior led Martin to complete and publish her book, Inside Looking Out: Jailed Fathers’ Perceptions about Separation from Their Children, in 2001. She also cites her father as a great inspiration.
“I discovered that there was quite a bit written about incarcerated mothers, but very, very little about incarcerated fathers,” Martin said. “In reflecting on the important role that my dad had in my life, I grew curious about fathers who were incarcerated, and wondered about the impact of their incarceration on them and their children.”
Currently, Martin is at work on another article regarding incarcerated parents. This time, she’s examining the stress of separation from their children, and how it impacts the institutional adjustment of mothers and fathers.
Her teaching duties for this semester include a doctoral qualitative methods course, and she remains hard at work with APSCUF, negotiating a fair contract for both coaches and faculty and keeping a close eye on union-weakening legislation. She also finds time to work out every day.
Martin ended our interview with a few encouraging words for PASSHE students:
“Go into a discipline that you are passionate about. If you do that, it is much easier to maintain your interest in your classes, you are more likely to put in the time and energy needed to be successful, and you are more likely to end up in a career you love, rather than in a job.”