Earlier today, Mansfield University, part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), announced planned faculty layoffs. APSCUF President, Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, is issuing the following response:

“Today is a sad day for public higher education.  Under the guise of ‘aligning programs for a strategic vision’ and ‘workforce needs,’ President Fran Hendricks announced yet another round of faculty retrenchment at Mansfield University; it is a maneuver that the university has used three times in as many years. Despite the verbiage of working on behalf of students, these proposed cuts and layoffs will be detrimental. Mansfield students and all of our students deserve more than politicking and wordsmithing; they deserve a high quality education. 

“This is not about ‘a strategic vision for Mansfield;’ it is a symptom of Governor Corbett’s $90 million cut to the PASSHE appropriation in 2011-12. All of the schools undergoing retrenchment now are the same schools that claimed financial hardship last year.

“It is disturbing to hear the Orwellian language used by PASSHE officials as they construct catchy phrases to mask stark financial realities. It is nothing short of doublespeak to say you want to prepare students for future employment and then rob them of the types of courses that provide the skills that business leaders consistently say they desire in employees.

“Alumni returning to Mansfield would barely recognize the place that they once called home. While some of the buildings remain the same – with the exception of shiny new dormitories – the academic core has undergone radical change. It has impacted every classroom experience and every aspect of student life.  Mansfield students and faculty members have suffered enough through the last two rounds of retrenchment. The solution is clear: a restoration of the $90 million cut would enable Mansfield and universities facing similar financial situations to think strategically about moving forward.

“A university does not get better by hurting its current and future students; doing so only creates a downward spiral. No university has ever increased enrollment by announcing to prospective students that their desired majors might soon disappear. Rather than creating new buzzwords and rationalizations for the irrational, PASSHE and university officials must be true advocates for public higher education.   

“APSCUF stands ready to work with Mansfield University, PASSHE, and other universities across the system to avoid this hardship and pain for the sake of the students that we are here to serve.”