Oct. 29, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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More than two dozen faculty members this month received letters of intent to retrench that could take effect at the end of the 2023–24 academic year. Lock Haven University issued 23 of the letters, and Mansfield University issued three.
Such letters typically go into effect at the end of the academic year in which they are delivered. The timeline of this year’s letters is due to a side-letter agreement between the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties — the union representing State System faculty and coaches — and Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
APSCUF does not expect additional notices this month, its president said.
“Every letter is traumatic for the faculty member who receives it — and for their colleagues and students,” APSCUF President Dr. Jamie Martin said. “We are not yet out of the pandemic, and these faculty members are now grappling with the possibility of unemployment during a precarious and troubling time. I am heartbroken for my colleagues who are already dealing with the uncertainty of consolidation — and for their students who face loss of opportunities as well.”
Receiving a letter does not mean the faculty member definitely will lose their job. The union is working at the state and university levels to find alternatives to cuts, including qualified transfers to other departments or universities within the State System, which the APSCUF contract makes possible, Martin explained.
“While we work to find alternatives to layoffs, our faculty members continue to do the important, valuable jobs they were hired to do,” Martin said. “The consolidation of Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield will not occur by flipping a switch, and, as the chancellor mentioned in this week’s Act 50 Senate hearing, there is still much work to be done — and our faculty will be doing much of the heavy lifting. There will still be students to teach at Lock Haven and Mansfield, and the consolidation work cannot progress without the efforts and expertise of our faculty.”
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. APSCUF has been working to avoid job losses since spring 2020, when State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein called for universities to return to the student/faculty ratios of 2010–11, a high-water mark for enrollment. More than 100 faculty members’ jobs were in peril during the previous academic year; through APSCUF efforts, the total jobs lost was reduced to 31.
“Even one retrenchment is a great loss,” Martin said. “It’s no coincidence that Pennsylvania ranks at or near the bottom when it comes to funding for higher education, perpetuating a vicious cycle of enrollment declines as well as faculty and staff cuts.”
The Oct. 30, 2021, 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.
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.