Last month Edinboro University’s chapter of the faculty union APSCUF was told that it could expect updates concerning the possibility of retrenchment – that is, the large scale firing of faculty and staff regardless of tenure or seniority – on September 13, 2013. Someone in Edinboro’s Public Relations office must have been paying attention to the calendar and realized that announcing bad news on Friday the 13th was just asking for it. So, on Tuesday, September 10, Edinboro’s administration released a new “workforce plan” that takes the draconian cuts at Clarion University to a whole new level.
Edinboro University’s Operations and Workforce Plan calls for the elimination of 40 faculty members, 9 staff members, and 6 managers. Of the faculty members slated for retrenchment, at least 18 are tenured or tenure track. The proposed cuts amount to a 10% cut in faculty.
In a statement released from APSCUF today, Edinboro-APSCUF chapter president Dr. Jean Jones said, “We are shocked by management’s actions. The administration has deliberately chosen to publicly release a plan that fires faculty and staff instead of meeting with us to discuss the proposal.” The administration’s decision to bypass the union and publicly release the workforce plan may prove to be in violation to the union contract just settled this past spring.
The plan seeks to place five programs into moratorium, which prevents any new student from enrolling in the programs but allows existing students to finish their major before the classes necessary to complete the majors are completely eliminated. The programs are:
- Bachelor of Arts in German
- Bachelor of Arts in Music
- Bachelor of Arts in Music Education
- Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy
- Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Cultures
Like the Clarion plan, however, the university does seem to have the resources to invest in new programs that their administration “believes” show potential. For example, Edinboro’s administration is placing bets on new graduate programs in Business, Animation Arts, and Information Technology and undergraduate programs in Water Resource Management, Industrial Psychology, and Forensic Computing.
“Edinboro was recently cited in U.S. News & World Report as a top regional university because of the quality education our faculty members provide. Our students come to Edinboro trusting that they will receive an excellent education,” Jones stated. “Eliminating programs like music, philosophy, and world languages will only reduce educational quality. Potential students will choose to attend other colleges that offer the well-rounded liberal arts education they desire.”
This is not a good day for public higher education in Pennsylvania. Edinboro is the second PASSHE university to be told their administration plans on slashing programs and eliminating faculty and staff. Clarion’s faculty have already started to organize against the proposed cuts and faculty at the six other universities who are targeted for retrenchment – California, Cheney, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Mansfield, Slippery Rock – are bracing for the day their administrations release their new workforce plans.
The question remains as to what the response to these cuts will be from faculty, staff, students, and parents. We will continue to cover this story.