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APSCUF intern: ‘Invaluable’ experience built connections, sparked interests

I accepted my final internship offer with APSCUF and was overwhelmed with excitement. After spending my first college years in a world recovering from a pandemic and slowly returning to in-person activities, I was eager to participate in a hybrid internship experience. While I spent many days in front of my computer completing projects and attending Zoom meetings, I could not be more grateful for Sean (Crampsie, director of government relations) and Kathryn (Morton, communications director)’s commitment to providing me the best in-person days at the State APSCUF office.

Shippensburg University student Madison Johnson interned with APSCUF’s government-and-communication department this summer. Click here to learn more about APSCUF internships.

As a political-science major, spending days in the Capitol were extremely interesting and valuable. I attended fundraisers, sat in on the house Rules Committee, and spent many hours networking with lobbyists, senators, and state representatives. When I wasn’t in Harrisburg, I completed projects including research and policy analysis. I am extremely grateful to have had this experience during the peak of budget season, as it provided me a different perspective compared with that of the classroom.

While my interests were heavily geared toward government relations, knowledge in the world of communication and public relations is extremely valuable. I spent many days discussing various writing projects, proofreading newsletters, conducting interviews, and honing my professional writing skills.

To conclude my internship, APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash and I took to the set of “Behind the Headlines” to discuss student debt and higher-education funding in Pennsylvania. The complexity of public relations is often overlooked, so having this experience has been extremely insightful.

My experience with APSCUF has been invaluable. I could not be more grateful for the opportunities that I have had through this organization. This internship has allowed me to build incredible connections while sparking new interests. If you are looking for an internship experience that will allow you to participate in your field, hands on, then you should apply for an internship with APSCUF. You will not regret it.

—Madison Johnson,
APSCUF intern, summer 2022

Tom Stewart: A new role as APSCUF treasurer

Tom Stewart

Tom Stewart was elected as APSCUF treasurer in April 2022. He was the APSCUF chapter president at Kutztown University for the past four years. Prior to his work as APSCUF chapter president, Stewart was elected as an APSCUF department representative and delegate.

“My time as treasurer has been great so far,” Stewart said. “I have gotten to know the State staff pretty well, so it has been a great experience.”

Stewart’s responsibilities include presenting the treasurer’s report at executive-council meetings and legislative assembly, preparing the annual budget, and approving expenses.

Stewart’s involvement in APSCUF sparked after observing his parents as Shippensburg University faculty, and later graduating from Shippensburg with a master’s degree.

“I wanted to be involved and make sure I keep learning about APSCUF,” Stewart said. “I wasn’t sure what opportunities were there, but I wanted to step up and see how I can contribute.”

He plans to incorporate leadership skills from his previous APSCUF positions into his position as treasurer, including maintaining accessibility for those with questions or concerns.

“I plan to keep that up in this new role,” Stewart said.

—Madison Johnson,
APSCUF intern, summer 2022

Where past APSCUF interns are now

APSCUF is committed to providing Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education students the opportunity to intern with the union’s public-relations and government-relations department. Students from all 14 State System campuses are eligible to apply for APSCUF’s internship. We reconnected with some past interns to discuss the impact of this internship on their careers and professional development.

Abbey Ford (APSCUF file photo)

Abbey Ford was the intern in the summer of 2019. Since graduating from Millersville University in 2019, Ford has worked on various electoral campaigns, spanning from the New York City Council election to the presidential election of 2020. She currently works for the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State as the associate director of operations.

“Many of the skills and lessons learned during my internship are easily transferable into the world of electoral politics,” Ford said. “Both with union work and with campaigns, you have to be an effective communicator and be able to bring coalitions together to reach your desired goals.”

Alexandria Mansfield (Photo courtesy of Alexandria Mansfield)

Alexandria Mansfield interned in the winter of 2016–17.

“Anyone who is considering the internship should absolutely give it a shot!” the Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate said.

Mansfield is the growth-and-development reporter for the Florida Times-Union, where she pitches and researches stories, conducts interviews, and writes articles.

Prior to her current job, Mansfield held positions as a political reporter, education reporter, copy editor, and managing editor at various newspapers.

“The skills you learn in a public- and government-relations role — from public speaking to networking to more about how these jobs work and who is in them — are unparalleled,“ Mansfield said. “An internship like this is a great experience for any college student and can be extremely helpful in testing out career opportunities.”

Lindsey Newton (APSCUF file photo)

Slippery Rock University graduate Lindsey Newton interned for APSCUF in the summer of 2017. Newton became the service coordinator for the Human Services Administration Organization in Pennsylvania, responsible for making referrals to long-term treatment facilities, tracking patient progress until discharge, and managing after-discharge services including therapy and medication management.

“This internship solidified my interest in social policy,” Newton said. “I am excited to explore the policy side of government relations in the future.”

Melissa Stough (Photo courtesy of Melissa Stough)

Melissa Stough was the intern during the summer of 2021 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Kutztown University. Stough is attending Kutztown University for the M. Ed. program in student affairs in higher education administration. Since completing the APSCUF internship, Stough has held multiple positions, including intern at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and online course facilitator at Columbia University.

“I would say research and communication were the areas most enhanced by the APSCUF internship,” Stough said. “I learned how to communicate with legislators and other stakeholders in Harrisburg and beyond. I felt empowered and passionate about the advocacy work I was doing with APSCUF, and it has definitely influenced the opportunities I look for now.”

Brendan Leahy (Photo courtesy of Brendan Leahy)

Fall 2017 intern Brendan Leahy works for the Pennsylvania Medical Society in their association-management division. Some of his responsibilities in this role include managing finances, planning meetings, and overseeing the basic governance of nonprofit organizations. Leahy discussed how beneficial the internship was in preparing him for the basic day-to-day operations of the organization.

“APSCUF is pretty similar to the operations of my current organization,“ Leahy said. “I loved jumping into this role at PMS due to the background knowledge I had obtained from APSCUF.”

The Shippensburg University graduate described communication as the biggest skill he developed during his internship.

“Creating messaging to reach target audiences and broader audiences is a skill that APSCUF helped shape,” he said.

As a communication/journalism major, Leahy was excited that the internship provided him with an experience in government relations.

Corrinne Ulrich (Photo courtesy of Corrinne Ulrich)

Corrinne Ulrich interned in summer 2016 and is a graduate of Mansfield University

“APSCUF was my first professional position,” Ulrich said. “I learned how to hone my writing skills with various articles I was tasked with writing. I also learned the administrative side of various social-media platforms, which helped me through my career when needing to advertise job openings on social media.”

Ulrich works in human resources for Stephenson Equipment in Pennsylvania. Some of her responsibilities include interviewing, handling payroll, offering positions to job applicants, and managing new-hire orientation.

“My internship with APSCUF was great and solidified my desire to work in HR,” she said.

Kyle Bower (APSCUF file photo)

Bloomsburg University graduate Kyle Bower interned during the summer of 2020. Kyle is currently working as an account coordinator for Prosio Communications in Roseville, Calif. Prosio Communications is a public-relations, marketing, and community-outreach firm that specializes in public health and safety. Bower assists in creating messaging on behalf of government agencies.

“My writing and communication skills improved dramatically during my time with APSCUF,” Bower said. “Before APSCUF, I did not feel particularly comfortable speaking face to face with people, and my writing skills were still developing. Working at APSCUF acted as a springboard for my professional life, and I’m incredibly grateful that they gave me that opportunity.

“APSCUF certainly increased my confidence, which helped me in job interviews, and has been extremely beneficial for communicating with superiors and clients.”

Sydney Miller (Photo courtesy of Sydney Miller)

Fall 2018 intern Sydney Miller is an associate at Ridge Policy Group, a lobbying firm in downtown Harrisburg that is responsible for state representation of client interests before the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Miller develops and maintains relationships inside and outside the Capitol.

“APSCUF was a great opportunity to learn more about the public-relations side of politics/labor unions while also getting to learn more about the happenings in the Capitol,” Miller said. “The internship gave two different perspectives all in one. It helped to develop my reading and writing skills while also learning the best way to pick out key items in legislation.

“My time at APSCUF solidified where I wanted to be in politics. I knew I wanted to help my community in a broader way but was unsure of how to get there. Seeing how the APSCUF community came together for a common goal proved that engagement and determination was important.”

Click here to read more about the APSCUF internship. The 2023 application will be posted in the fall.

—Madison Johnson,
APSCUF intern

See Dr. Kenneth M. Mash’s remarks to the Board of Governors – July 21, 2022

The July 21 Board of Governors meeting streamed via YouTube. Below are APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash’s comments as prepared.

Chair Shapira, Chancellor Greenstein, governors, faculty liaison, presidents, and guests,

We, the faculty and coaches, appreciate the additional funding that was granted to the System. And I personally appreciate the opportunity to speak to the chair and the chancellor to try to work out problems before they blow up. I am excited about some of the System’s goals and the board’s work, but it is important to remember the facts on the ground.

Last week I received a phone call from a faculty member who had been retrenched in 2020. The faculty member was still stunned: The faculty member had classes that were enrolled, and they had done what they were asked to do as a faculty member to achieve their rank. But they were nonetheless retrenched. This faculty member felt forgotten and betrayed. After all, the faculty member was not responsible for some questionable decisions that were made at their institution.

I want to assure my colleagues who were retrenched that they have not been forgotten. And I want to urge the presidents here to be still actively trying to recall these faculty.

There were 114 faculty who received retrenchment letters in 2020. There are 27 of these faculty members who were retrenched and have recall rights. I was going to read off the names of these people because I really, sincerely want them to understand that they have not been forgotten. I’m not going to do that — for time’s sake and also because I don’t want to identify them without their permission. But they need to be acknowledged. And acknowledging them does not even begin to tell the story of what happens when retrenchment takes place at a university. When those letters go out, there’s a ripple effect. Some retired so that a colleague might keep their job. Or other faculty members resigned because they were early enough in their careers that they could find another faculty position.

I understand that there are those who think that faculty members believe they are “entitled to a job.” Such a statement, I think, can only be made from a complete misunderstanding of the professoriate. Once faculty have achieved the rank of associate or full professor, a retrenchment is likely the end of their academic career. Ultimately, it is not a matter of entitlement: It is a matter of a special trust. A trust that says, “If you commit yourself to your institution, if you do the things that you are asked to do, that a university would not retrench you unless the situation were so very dire that the existence of the university was demonstrably in immediate peril.”

In fact, the standard that is used by the American Association of University Professors states that there should be a financial exigency before even considering whether faculty jobs are to be put in peril.

Understand that the decision to retrench faculty has dramatic and lasting effect. Recruiting faculty is more difficult because the institution is looked at as one that does not commit to its faculty. After watching their colleagues be retrenched, those who remain are demoralized and left wondering whether they will be next. Certainly that is the case for those faculty who currently still have “intent to retrench” letters, but it is not exclusive to them. The effect carries itself forward to the entire faculty, who are increasingly likely to withdraw and to feel unappreciated and despondent.

I do not think I need to remind anyone that you need my colleagues to do the work — not just in the classroom. You need them to go above and beyond. You need them to be excited to go to work. You need them to go the extra mile for the students.

You need them to not consider the professoriate a “job.” You need, for this System to be successful, for faculty to view it as a calling. That is something people ought to remember when the topic of retrenchment arises. It is what guides the spirit of our contract — that we should together do everything possible to avoid retrenchment.

I know that there are university presidents in this room who do get it. I know that a couple have even gone out of their way to find positions for retrenchees at their universities. We thank you for that.

Chairwoman Shapira, Chancellor Greenstein, and members of the board: We together worked very hard to try to restore trust and build a shared sense of mission for all constituencies. And I still appreciate that hard work. But trust has been severely shaken. Please let it be an imperative part of your mission to restore trust. Please do not forget my colleagues.

See Dr. Kenneth M. Mash’s remarks to the Board of Governors – June 15, 2022

The June 15 Board of Governors meeting streamed via YouTube. Below are APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash’s comments as prepared.

Chairwoman Dr. Shapira, Chancellor Greenstein, members of the board, university presidents, and guests,

My name is Ken Mash, and I am (again) the statewide president of APSCUF, the union that represents the coaches and faculty at the 14 campuses that comprise the State System of Higher Education.

First, I want to express my gratitude to my friend Dr. Jamie Martin for her bold leadership and her unyielding defense of our members, her work that benefitted State System students, and all that she did to try to preserve the greatness of our universities. I know that everyone wishes her the best, and I feel fortunate that I know I can pick up the phone and be the beneficiary of her sound advice.

I have spent the last two years back on the East Stroudsburg University campus during some of the most trying times for students, faculty, staff, and administrators. If anything, I think my time back on campus has renewed my fervor to do what is right by our students. My experience has renewed my focus and my desire to remind everyone that, bickering and ideology aside, there are real people: real students with real futures, real parents paying real bills, real employees with real careers and real livelihoods. The educational experience must be at the core of everything that we all do, and we must remember the people responsible for providing it.

The overwhelming majority of those who jump through the hurdles necessary to be qualified to be a college professor — or who give their all on and off the athletic field — don’t view their positions as just a job. They view it as a vocation. I would like to remind the board that we, the System, can’t afford to lose that. It is what makes a good university tick. But that could happen if people perceive that they are being treated as mere cogs in a machine or just numbers.

I have a lot to say about what has been happening these last two years, and I have dozens of questions about decisions that have been made. In fairness, before I will share my perspectives publicly, I would like to have the opportunity to speak with the chair and the chancellor directly. Based on my experience, I have no reason to doubt that I will have this opportunity. I will share now that I am very proud of the way my colleagues helped their universities get through the toughest part of the pandemic and for the care and concern they showed to students. These challenges continue because we still have students making the adjustment to a face-to-face college experience.

With regard to the funding formula, I appreciate the work that was put into it by those who constructed it. As with most things, I think the devil is in the details. And while I know the formula was shared with some of my colleagues, I am not sure they left confident that they understood how it works, the impact on the universities, and how the universities will be affected in the future, should there be changes to the state allocation.

I do think that there was room here for a more public discussion, so that the governors could benefit from a wealth of knowledge and perspectives that may differ from those who constructed the formula. That said, I am looking forward to a robust board discussion about this policy and to many questions — because I know the board appreciates how important it is to hold our System and university officials accountable and that the public counts on the board to make sure there is accountability.

Thank you for your time.

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