April 3, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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As an April 1 deadline loomed, four more state-owned universities last week submitted letters of intent for retrenchment to the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. California, Cheyney, Clarion, and Edinboro university administrators thereby notified the union that faculty cuts could be possible at the end of the 2017–18 year.
Mansfield University put a letter on the table March 21.
Saturday was the deadline for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education to inform the association about possible layoffs due to program curtailment, elimination of courses, or the elimination of the duties and responsibilities performed by nonclassroom faculty, according to Article 29 of APSCUF’s collective bargaining agreement.
A letter of retrenchment does not necessarily mean faculty definitely will be laid off, but it adds to an atmosphere of uncertainty that has already been fueled by talk of possible closures and mergers, APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said.
“Students, potential students, and faculty members deserve to know their universities’ intentions as soon as possible,” Mash said. “We understand finances are tight, but cutting programs and faculty members is penny wise and pound foolish. Limiting opportunities will not help universities heal or grow. It certainly does nothing to encourage potential students to enroll.”
APSCUF will work with each of the universities at state and local levels to find solutions that are best for students and the faculty members retrenchment would affect directly, Mash said.
“Our universities have struggled mightily since the Commonwealth cut the appropriation to the State System in 2011,” Mash said. “While some of that funding has been restored, last year per-student funding was down by more than 30 percent since the start of the Great Recession. While a decline in graduating high school seniors partially explains enrollment declines, very little attention has been paid to whether the total cost of college remains affordable for Pennsylvania’s working-class families.
“The mission of the State System is to provide a high-quality university education at an affordable price. The cost has continued to increase, and now universities are threatening to strike at quality by reducing the programs they offer students. Instead of trying to bleed stones, our policy-makers must focus on how we are turning our backs on a generation of students.”
APSCUF represents about 5,500 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.