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The only item on Monday’s Meet and Discuss Agenda at IUP was “Budget Concerns for FY 10-11 and 11-12.”

When Susan Drummond, IUP-APSCUF President, received the request for a meeting from IUP Vice President of Human Resources Helen Kennedy, Drummond specifically asked if the purpose of the meeting was to notify APSCUF of management’s intentions to retrench faculty.  Kennedy indicated that the meeting was not for that purpose.

At the meeting, however, management presented IUP-APSCUF with a document outlining the university’s possible budget picture for 2011-12.  Included in the document is the following section:

“It is possible that E&G reduction targets might require the retrenchment of faculty and/or furloughs of managers and staff.”

The letter proceeds to indicate that, in accordance with Article 29 of the APSCUF/PASSHE Collective Bargaining Agreement, management was “hereby notifying APSCUF of this situation.”  The document also adds, “The university will take every reasonable measure to avoid retrenchment and furloughs, but they may be unavoidable due to financial considerations, program curtailment, elimination of courses, and other reasons.” 

“When Administration asked us to meet to discuss their projected 12 million dollar deficit for 2011-2012 I agreed on behalf of the APSCUF Meet and Discuss Team,” Drummond explained.  “However, the management side was not as concerned about the budget or real solutions to the deficit as they were in using the meeting as an opportunity to inform us of possible retrenchment.”

“With increasing enrollments and faculty being the only real additional source of generating revenue through tuition dollars, to talk about retrenchment of faculty is like “killing the goose that lays the golden egg,” Drummond added.

State APSCUF President Reacts

 “It is again disheartening to have the administration at one of our universities announce that faculty layoffs are a possibility, State APSCUF President Steve Hicks said.  “With record enrollment year after year, it is hard to see how we sustain quality operations with a shrunken workforce.”

“IUP’s management has much to answer for.  The imbroglio of the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex and its multi-million dollar annual impact on the operating budget makes one wonder about the quality of decisions being made on campus.”

“Yesterday, they announced they are picking up a note on a dorm. How can you declare financial exigency one day yet pick up bank notes the next?  It’s incomprehensible.”

“APSCUF has become experienced in reacting to these threats to our students and the curriculum of the university.  IUP is blessed with some of the most experienced leadership, if not the most experienced, in the state.  You can count on the fact that the plans that management puts forth – and yesterday’s memo didn’t begin to provide any opportunity for the alternatives that Article 29 lays out – will be heavily and critically scrutinized both locally and at the state level.”

“At some point the universities and the system have to recognize the damage such announcements make to their universities.  It becomes self-fulfilling prophesy.”

PASSHE has been cited as having the lowest tuition increases among public state systems over the past five years. This has come at the same time as the 14 universities have registered annual records in student enrollment. For fall of 2010, enrollment is expected to reach 120,000 for the first time.

Last year PASSHE increased tuition 3.7%, or $165, while Penn State increased theirs by 4.5%, almost $600. This brings the cost of tuition to $5,200 for PASSHE schools compared to $14,100 for PSU, Pitt, & Temple.

“The state-related institutions have not worried about competing for the highest public university tuition is the country because they have a strong product and a high level of demand in this competitive public school environment for the quality education they provide,” Hicks said.  PASSHE needs to protect the quality of the education its universities provide.  Cutting budgets and slashing faculty only diminishes quality and limits student choices.”