Editor’s Note: Late this afternoon, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) issued the following press release in response to the retrenchment notices issued to five PASSHE universities yesterday. Raging Chicken Press received the press release after Kevin Mahoney’s piece on this issue was already posted to our site. We thought Raging Chicken Press readers would be interested in seeing the faculty union’s response in full.
Harrisburg – Yesterday, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) announced that five of the 14 state-owned universities are considering faculty layoffs at the end of the upcoming academic year.
The universities considering retrenchment include Mansfield, Edinboro, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, and Cheyney. These five universities account for over 20 percent of the approximately 6,000 faculty the State System employs. APSCUF remains hopeful that the administrations and PASSHE will reconsider this potentially devastating path to “fiscal solvency.”
During the ‘11 – ‘12 fiscal year, Governor Corbett slashed the budget for the State System by $90 million, and the System has been flat funded since. The consequences of that cut are again being realized now as students may see a loss of faculty and a reduction of key programs and courses.
“We thought we were done,” said Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF President. “Our universities and faculty have been consistently asked to do more with less. The reality is that we can’t. Faculty have been laid off, programs have been eliminated and put into moratorium. We have reached the point of doing less with less to the detriment of our students and their educational experience.”
Over the last five years, PASSHE has placed approximately 160 programs in moratorium, reorganized another 90 programs, and created a mere 56 new academic programs. The eliminated programs included, among many others, foreign languages and other programs traditionally in the liberal arts.
“Public higher education is clearly not one of the Governor’s priorities,” said Mash. “You can’t remove $90 million in funding from a system and expect that system to continue sustaining the caliber of education that our students deserve.”
“We received Governor Corbett’s anti public higher education message loud and clear,” said Mash. “Our students and their families deserve quality, affordable higher education at an affordable price tag. His cuts have not only destroyed programs and reduced faculty, but he has also taxed students and their families through increased tuition.”
PASSHE Chancellor, Frank. T. Brogan and the university presidents stated that the current possibility of layoffs is also due to program realignment to better serve the Commonwealth’s needs in workforce readiness. “Talking about program realignment and strategic vision in a vacuum is unreasonably simplistic. It is not coincidental that these are the same universities that wanted to retrench last year because of ‘financial considerations.’ We are cutting faculty and programs that CEOs say students need in the workforce.”
“Eighty percent of our graduates remain in Pennsylvania, and we absolutely want them to be prepared for the workforce. The only sensible answer is that the System needs to be properly funded. We need our legislators and our Governor to truly support the Commonwealth’s future,” said Mash.