March 24, 2021

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After suggesting the dissolution of the university system he oversees, Chancellor Daniel Greenstein’s words continue to disturb the faculty and coaches at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities, union leaders said this week.

In an emergency meeting Tuesday, the executive council of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties discussed the harm caused by Greenstein’s statement during a Senate budget-appropriations hearing March 18. In his testimony, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education’s chancellor said, “Unless we figure this out, I will be recommending to the board that we come back to the Senate next year with a legislative package to dissolve the System.”

During their hour-and-a-half-long meeting, APSCUF officers decried the public, statewide forum in which Greenstein brought up dissolution, and they voiced anger that it occurred during a critical time.

“The chancellor’s timing makes these remarks even more destructive,” APSCUF Vice President Dr. Christopher Hallen said. “We are in the middle of recruiting for next year, and his suggestion of dissolving the System can only undermine the confidence of parents, students and communities. The chancellor often points out that enrollments have declined, and yet his statement will negatively impact our recruiting efforts — and, by extension, our enrollments. Why would the leader of any university system insinuate it should be dismantled?”

John Gump, APSCUF’s coach executive leader, underscored the detrimental timing.

“Recruiting is the lifeblood of college athletics,” he said. “Coaches are now working with the classes of 2022 and 2023. To have the chancellor make these comments hinders the efforts of our members as they work to continue to bring students to our campuses and programs.”

Gump elaborated on the divisive nature of the chancellor’s remarks.

“Since Chancellor Greenstein arrived in Harrisburg, he has been preaching the doctrine of ‘systemness’ across the Commonwealth,” Gump said. “So, it was disappointing and disheartening to hear him threaten to dissolve the System in his testimony last week. Although, I suppose taking the anxiety and uncertainty that presently exists on the six campuses targeted for consolidation and spreading it to the other eight is, in some bizarre way, an example of that ‘systemness.’

“As coaches, we understand that strong teams need contributions from all team members. Those contributions may not be equal, but all are important. Pointing fingers and assigning blame are not ways to improve performance but demonstrations of weak leadership.”

The concern and outrage were universal among officers, regardless of campus.

“I was appalled by Chancellor Greenstein’s intention to submit a legislative proposal to dissolve the State System if the PASSHE Board of Governors does not approve his plan for consolidation,” said Dr. Clifford Johnston, State APSCUF treasurer and a faculty member at West Chester University. “West Chester University, while not part of the consolidation, has cautiously accepted the chancellor’s ‘systemness’ approach — 14 universities supporting each other while holding each other accountable — because we see the value of the State System to our students and the entire Commonwealth. His job was to improve the System, not tear it down.”

APSCUF plans to continue communicating with members about the comments, their repercussions and what actions to take next, officers said.

Tuesday’s meeting followed a Friday discussion among APSCUF chapter presidents and President Dr. Jamie Martin. Click here to read that day’s release.

View the chancellor’s comments just after the 52-minute mark (52:23).

APSCUF represents about 5,000 faculty and coaches at the State System universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.