Remarks of Dr. Kenneth M. Mash
Before the Board of Governors
Jan. 21, 2016
Chairman Piccinni, Governors, Chancellor Brogan, university presidents,
My name is Kenneth Mash, and I am the president of APSCUF, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
On behalf of the all the faculty and coaches at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities, I would like to extend a welcome to the newest board members and to thank you for your service.
While there are many issues I would like to raise this morning, the one I will raise is one that we are all aware of. For now, the State System is once again flat funded for this year. That means that, following the 18 percent reduction in allocation in 2011 — 23 percent, if one counts federal funds — we are one of only a couple of states in the nation that has not seen any restoration in funding since the cuts of the Great Recession.
As a result, our universities have eliminated programs by the score, cut department budgets, delayed maintenance, cut athletic programs, reduced departmental resources, delayed hiring, decreased student internships, lessened money for scholarly activities, instituted faculty and staff layoffs, etc., etc. It has gotten to the point that it is almost laughable when someone from outside the System suggests that the way to deal with budget shortfalls in the tens of millions is to reduce fat and waste. It is only laughable because it is just not at all funny.
Even with these reductions that increasingly threaten our universities’ abilities to provide the quality education that is mandated by law, our students and their families have had to endure ever-increasing tuition increases and fees. When the System was first established, the Commonwealth contributed 75 percent of the cost of a Pennsylvania student’s education. Now, that number is less than 25 percent. Should those universities that were granted permission by this Board implement the per-credit tuition plans, most students at those universities will be paying 25 percent higher tuition.
All these years of underfunding are enough. This Board recognized this when you requested an allocation that exceeds the 2011 cut in state allocation.
With this in mind, APSCUF is helping to organize a rally in the Capitol Rotunda — United We Stand, Underfunded We Fail — at noon Feb. 8. Our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of public higher education will be there to emphasize the impact of these cuts on their lives, but also how much more our universities and our students could do for the Commonwealth if they were properly funded.
I invite you all to participate in the rally and to encourage others to participate, so that we may supplement the good work that is done by the System’s Advocacy Day. We would ask that our university administrations help encourage students (who don’t have class or are excused), faculty (who are not teaching), and all others to participate.
We have already received support from several student organizations, and we are working with more. We are looking at the day not as an opportunity to point fingers or to assign blame, but rather to raise awareness to our needs and — with apologies to the Chancellor — to discuss infinite possibilities.
Thank you all in advance for your assistance. I certainly hope that this is an event for which we can all unite.