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."
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.”
The polls remained open for thirteen hours yesterday, and when they came to a close, Democratic candidate Tom Wolf emerged as our new Governor of Pennsylvania.
As a capstone to our ongoing Get Out the Vote efforts, APSCUF, our faculty members, and our students initiated a number of events across our state campuses yesterday. Each event shared the same purpose: encouraging as many people as possible to get out and vote in the mid-term election.
APSCUF office managers and faculty members operated voter awareness tables on campuses, helping provide voter information to students, directing them to the polls, and doing all they could to ensure each and every potential voter had the chance to make their voice heard. Many campuses also offered free polling place bussing to voters.
APSCUF staff members in Harrisburg joined AFSCME in their phone banking efforts, spreading awareness to union members throughout the area. These staff members spent their day speaking with union-minded voters, providing polling place information, and getting to know the valued members of our labor unions.
At Kutztown University, Student Government President Joe Scoboria—a great friend to APSCUF—spearheaded his own amazing election effort. In response to the local polling place being moved from its original on-campus location, Scoboria led his fellow students on a march from Keystone Hall to the off-campus polling place. Leading the march with Scoboria was APSCUF President Kenneth M. Mash.
It was a long day of extraneous efforts, ending an election season full of long hours and hard work from all parties involved. With the election behind us, APSCUF looks forward to the days ahead: working toward a brighter future for education alongside our new Governor.
The deepest thanks go out from APSCUF to every staff member, faculty member, student, volunteer, employee, worker or citizen who has been a part of our election efforts in the past months. Our first year being heavily involved with the election process has been an amazing success, with thousands of students registered to vote and more cognizant of their role in the political process thanks to your hard work.
And though the election has come to an end, you can rest assured APSCUF’s work for our universities and members has not.
Last Thursday, the PA AFL-CIO’s “Burgers and Ballots” tour continued with a stop at Kutztown University. The tour RV offered their Get Out the Vote campaign’s usual features, including a cookout with free burgers & hot dogs, voter literature and information, absentee ballots, and speeches by APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash and APSCUF Kutztown University Chapter President Paul Quinn.
But what helped to make this one of the tour’s most successful stops yet was the politically-passionate, endless energy provided by KU Student Body President, Joe Scoboria, and his speeches throughout the afternoon.
A junior at KU dual majoring in Special/Elementary Education with a minor in History, Scoboria was instilled with an interest in politics from a young age. He cites his Godfather, the late State Senator, Michael O’Pake, as a strong influence. His father, who worked for O’Pake, served as Senate President at Penn State, and both of his parents have been long-time union members. He plans to continue this trend and join a union after graduation.
Scoboria is particularly passionate about the importance of creating an active voice in student government. “It offers the opportunity to engage in not only civics and the process of government, but serving the students you go to school with,” Scoboria said. “We have a strong voice which lies between the students and administration."
The Student Body President was a huge presence at Burgers and Ballots, giving two speeches, speaking to students one-on-one, and using the microphone and his magnetic personality to draw in every student he could.
His speeches centered on the importance of students taking an interest in politics, keeping themselves informed, and using their vote to influence the upcoming election.
“Students need to come together and realize that their voices are heard in every election they participate in,” Scoboria said on the subject of the dreaded “student voter apathy.” “When students are put on the back burner and made to feel as though they are small or do not play a significant role, they move in another direction. We need to encourage students to vote on the very issues they are being dealt with.”
Scoboria had nothing but good things to say about the PA AFL-CIO’s event. “It was right in the middle of campus, where APSCUF members and I could talk to and be personal with many interested students. I had a fantastic time being a part of this event,” he said. “Every single APSCUF member was respectful, happy, and willing to speak to all students. I wish I could travel around PA with them!”
While Scoboria unfortunately cannot tag along, the Burgers and Ballots tour continues through this week, making its final stops: Clarion University, Slippery Rock University, Edinboro University, California University of PA, and Indiana University of PA. You can stay up-to-date by following @APSCUF on Twitter, or by following the #BurgersAndBallots hashtag.
For now, he leaves fellow students with a few more words on the importance of making it to the polls:
“Voting is the foundation for any form of political action which you have the constitutional right to take part in.”
Joe Scoboria plans to graduate in 2016 and acquire a teaching position between Reading and suburban Philadelphia. He is also interested in the politics of urban public education funding, working for the Department of Education, and possibly running for office.
PASSHE Board of Governors
Remarks of Kenneth M. Mash, Ph.D.
October 9, 2014
Chairman Piccinni, Governors, Chancellor Brogan, University Presidents,
Based on yesterday’s actions, it appears that the Board will be requesting an additional funding from the Commonwealth. Your faculty and coaches appreciate the fact that the Board will be asking for additional funds. The spirit of that request is, indeed, a step in a positive direction. However, it is not enough. Our universities need restoration.
The time has come to be honest about what is occurring at our universities and to our students. According to Act 188, the very purpose of the system is “to provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost.” Members of this Board have taken both ends of that charge very seriously. But we are in danger of failing, if we are not already in places, on both ends of that charge.
Even during the previous administration, when budgets were stretched, members of the Board held fast to the idea that tuition increases should remain at a minimum. Since the $90 million cut in 2011, there have been tuition increases, but they have not kept pace with the costs of running our universities. Regardless, our students have had to take on an increasing share of the burden of paying for their educations at a public university in terms of increases in tuition and fees.
According to the Project on Student Debt, the average State System student leaves their university with $27,000 of debt. They will feel the effects of that debt for their entire lives. That debt will continue to have ripple effects throughout Commonwealth, and it will continue to do damage to our overall economy. For the sake of our students, we need restoration.
Meanwhile our universities continue to feel the pain of the 2011 cuts and the subsequent flat funding. Real questions have to be raised about whether we can meet our charge to provide a “high quality education:
• When we have a university that plans to not offer any introductory courses in music
• When we have a university that plans to not offer any sociology courses
• When we have a university that struggles to offer enough sections of English composition to their students
• When we have a university limiting student access to introductory courses in STEM fields
• When the programs that this Board approved to put into moratorium are filled with foreign language programs when we should be preparing our students for a globalized economy
• When universities are slashing their student support services aimed at helping students succeed
• When universities have delayed basic required maintenance to their buildings and grounds
Unfortunately, that list can go on much further. For the sake of high quality education, we need restoration.
I encourage you, members of the Board to visit our campuses to venture past the guided tour and speak to our students, faculty, and coaches, and hear for yourselves what has been going on.
Forty two of the 50 states have already moved to restore cuts made during the Great Recession. Pennsylvania is not one of them. Our Commonwealth ranks 48 out of 50 states when it comes to per capita funding for public higher education. That hurts our students; it hurts our Commonwealth. Every study that has been done shows that every dollar invested in public higher education returns multiple times that dollar back into the state’s economy. Our Commonwealth needs restoration.
Our universities do not suffer from expenditure problems. They are lean to the bone. Our universities continue to suffer from revenue problems.
Our system needs to be honest and bold. We need to restore our universities so that we may live up to the charge of Act 188. Our universities need restoration of the $90 million dollar cut of 2011. Further, we should request whatever additional funds on top of that that would enable a guarantee of no tuition increase for the next year. Our students need restoration.
I hope that some voice will be given to these realities as you proceed in your discussions about the System’s budget request.
I thank you for your attention.
After the incredible success of last week’s APSCUF Voter Registration drives across the campuses (where hundreds of student registered to vote), a month of civic engagement continues with the PA AFL-CIO’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) tour.
In the coming weeks, the AFL-CIO bus—loaded up with speakers, food & drink, a grill, and non-partisan information about the political issues facing today’s students—will be stopping at each of our 14 PASSHE universities. Students can stop by for free burgers, hot dogs and snacks, along with some information on how vital their votes will be in the upcoming election.
The tour began last week with stops at East Stroudsburg University and Bloomsburg University, where APSCUF and AFL-CIO staff were on hand to help students register to vote. Monday’s event at Millersville focused on spreading awareness about the issues: budget cuts, the student debt crisis, and other matters that many students are facing today.
Over a hundred individuals of various political affiliations turned out to enjoy the free food and chat with staff members about their interests and their role in the democratic process. Each student left with a full stomach and flyers containing voter info, information on the issues, and a reminder of the November 4th election date.
Running from 4 – 7pm, #BurgersandBallots closed out its night with a few short speeches.
First to speak was Millersville student Kaytee Moyer. Moyer discussed the important role students and young people can play in an election, citing student voter turnout as a key to President Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 election. She urged her peers to make use of that power: “It’s time for students to activate and be heard.”
Recent Millersville graduate and student activist Rizzo Mertz focused his speech on one key word: rise. He spoke on the proven ability of Americans to unite for common goals and rise up.
“We must rise,” Mertz said, calling on not only students, but those of all demographics. “When you choose to be silent at the ballot box, your voice becomes a whisper.”
The final student speaker was Doug Waterman, President of the College Democrats at Millersville. Waterman faced the issues head-on, citing recent cuts and changes at nearby universities and demanding a change.
“You have tuition increases,” Waterman said. “You have faculty getting cut, you have majors getting cut. It’s time that we elect someone who is best for us.”
Following the student speeches, Zach Hause and Mike Maguire addressed the crowd. They both focused on opportunity and freedom, two ideals that are compromised when students do not have their needs met. Maguire stated that recent cuts have limited the choices and opportunities of today’s college graduates, then rallied the crowd one last time before inviting everyone to enjoy another burger.
#BurgersandBallots proved to be a smash success at Millersville University, and the tour is only picking up steam from here. The bus stops today at Mansfield University, 1 – 3pm on Clinton Street, South Laurel Hall. APSCUF and the AFL-CIO thank everyone who stopped by, got involved, or helped out with yesterday’s event, and we hope to see just as many faces at Mansfield and the remaining nine universities.