Oct. 30, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Kathryn Morton, firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-236-7486
More than 100 tenured and tenure-track faculty members today learned they may lose their jobs at the end of the 2020–21 academic year. The affected faculty members work at Cheyney, Edinboro, Indiana, Lock Haven and Mansfield Universities of Pennsylvania — more than a third of the 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
Letters issued by university are: Cheyney, 6; Edinboro, 21; IUP, 81; Lock Haven, 2; and Mansfield, 3. California and Clarion Universities of Pennsylvania have active possibilities of retrenchment but did not issue letters to tenured faculty members by today’s deadline.
“Not only are faculty cuts a blow to the professors themselves, but, by extension, layoffs take opportunities away from students,” said Dr. Jamie Martin, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, the union representing State System faculty and coaches. “Retrenchment is devastating at any time, but these letters are threatening to take away livelihoods and healthcare in the middle of a global pandemic.”
APSCUF’s collective bargaining agreement requires the State System to alert tenured faculty members by Oct. 30, if they are in danger of being retrenched at the end of the academic year. APSCUF has been working to avoid job losses since the spring, when 10 universities issued notices of the possibility of retrenchment. Three of those universities — Bloomsburg, Kutztown and Millersville — rescinded their warnings.
Today’s deadline is the first in a series for alerting faculty members that they could be retrenched. The APSCUF contract requires probationary non-tenured faculty members beyond the second year to be sent letters by certified mail or hand delivery on or before Dec. 1; second-year probationary non-tenured faculty members, on or before Dec. 15; and first-year probationary non-tenured faculty members, on or before March 1.
Receiving a retrenchment letter does not mean the faculty member definitely will not have a job next year. The union will continue to work at the state and local levels to find alternatives to faculty cuts, Martin said. Further, the APSCUF collective bargaining agreement provides opportunities for professors with retrenchment letters to move to other departments, if they are qualified to do so, or to transfer to other universities within the State System, if there are openings. But openings are less likely this year, Martin explained.
“We understand the System has financial challenges, many of which can be traced to the Commonwealth’s failure to fund our state-owned universities properly,” Martin said. “Pennsylvania ranks at or near the bottom in every measure of public higher-education funding. In this indefensible situation, APSCUF has done its part to balance budgets without job cuts — through early retirements, sick-leave incentives and salary concessions in the contract we signed last year. There was no mention of possible retrenchments during those contract negotiations, or we surely would have fought then to avoid faculty cuts. Our universities are making cuts across the System, to fall in line with the expectations to reach 2010–11 student/faculty ratios that Chancellor Daniel Greenstein laid out.”
At the State System Board of Governors meeting in April, Greenstein called for universities to return to the student/faculty ratios of 2010–11, when enrollments were at an all-time high. The State System averaged 21.07 students to every faculty member in 2010, and it averaged 17.43 students per faculty member in 2018. APSCUF’s ratios in 2018 exceed even the higher 2010 levels of many comparable universities, according to data from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
“In 2010–11, faculty struggled to keep up with overflowing classes and to give their students the individual attention they deserve,” Martin said. “Don’t our students deserve the same smaller class sizes as students at Penn State’s main campus, Pitt, Temple, Lincoln and the State University of New York system? Our campuses tout their student/faculty ratios, sometimes on their home pages, but now universities are slashing professors to reach ratios that were far from a panacea. I don’t see how this can do anything but hurt our students.”
Students, alumni, faculty and community supporters who want to advocate against retrenchment can learn how to take action by visiting https://www.apscuf.org/students/#Retrenchmentstudents.
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.
This release has been updated to reflect a decrease in retrenchment letters issued at Lock Haven University.