APSCUF President, Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, is issuing the following statement regarding the review of Cheyney University's financial aid office:
“APSCUF has read with grave concern the review of Cheyney University’s financial aid that reports errors in 85 percent of the records for federal grants and loans over a three-year period; $29.6 million may be owed to the federal government. It is important to remember that the failures that occurred are not the fault of Cheyney University students, alumni, faculty, or coaches. Cheyney’s historical commitment to provide opportunity and access for students of diverse backgrounds is as relevant today as it has always been, and there are students for whom Cheyney’s nurturing environment is the best path for future success. What Cheyney University clearly needs, and what its current and prospective students rightly deserve, is strong leadership and a bold plan to serve those students who truly need it to be a strong institution. We look forward to working with those who truly care about the University’s future."
Negotiators for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and the State System of Higher Education met today, Wednesday, August 26, 2015, at the APSCUF office in Harrisburg. The two sides exchanged concerns regarding the retrenchment process and engaged in lengthy conversations, during which the State System responded to APSCUF’s questions about budgeting and accounting at the universities. Negotiations are scheduled to continue September 21, 2015 at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.
Last week, Shippensburg University announced that faculty layoffs were possible at the end of the upcoming academic year. Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), is issuing the following statement:
“Shippensburg University has suffered enrollment declines over the last few years. The leadership at Shippensburg ought to be pulling together its community to focus on its enrollment problems. This sort of announcement only demoralizes the campus, and it undermines the university’s overall attempt to increase enrollment.
“Two years ago, seven of the State System universities examined faculty layoffs as a method of possible cost savings. After an even sharper decline in enrollments, only five of those universities headed down the same path in 2014. In 2015, only one university – Cheyney – remains on that list.
“The management at Shippensburg University would to do well to look closely at their sister schools and learn from their past operating procedures. While each university is different and faces different challenges, layoffs will not improve campus morale which, in turn, will not attract more students. It is APSCUF’s sincerest hope that Shippensburg University’s management pursues a more rational path to fiscal solvency.”
Last week, Cheyney University announced that faculty layoffs were possible at the end of the upcoming academic year. Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), is issuing the following statement:
“Cheyney University has threatened to layoff faculty members every year for the last four years. While Cheyney’s problems are well documented by the press and government officials, it baffles the mind how laying off faculty members will help them solve any of these issues. It is particularly puzzling when one considers that the number of faculty has declined over the past seven years, but their management numbers have remained remarkably steady. It is unfathomable that Cheyney, which a few years ago had a 3:1 faculty to manager ratio, is now close to 2:1
“Now, more than ever, it is time for Cheyney to step up, grow, and do more. By threatening to layoff faculty for the fourth year in a row, Cheyney has signaled their intent to revert to their previous tactics that have had an adverse effect on recruitment and retention.
“The mission of Cheyney University is still relevant today. One only need to look at the news articles about race sweeping this nation on an almost daily basis. It is crucial that Cheyney University not only find a way to survive, but to thrive. It is APSCUF’s sincerest hope that Cheyney University’s management pursues a more rational path to fiscal solvency.”
APSCUF issued the following press release today about possible faculty layoffs:
For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Carrie Hillman 717-515-6846
Last Friday, the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF) received notice that Cheyney University and Shippensburg University are considering faculty layoffs at the end of the upcoming academic year.
“Our universities never seem to learn,” said Dr. Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF President. “Threatening to layoff faculty is not the way to improve the university or to improve enrollment. Potential students do not want to enroll at a university that sends the message that their professor or their program may not be there the following year and existing students question their decisions to attend the university.”
The Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education had its budget cut by 18% in 2011, and the universities have been flat funded since. Over the last six years, the State System has placed over 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.
Shippensburg University has suffered enrollment declines over the last few years. “The leadership at Shippensburg ought to be pulling together its community to focus on its enrollment problems,” said Mash. “This sort of announcement only demoralizes the campus, and it undermines the university’s overall attempt to increase enrollment.”
This is the fourth straight year Cheyney has considered faculty layoffs. “Cheyney University’s problems have been well documented. How heading down the path to layoffs will help its problems is baffling. It is particularly puzzling when one considers that the number of faculty has declined over the past seven years, but their management numbers have remained remarkably steady. It is unfathomable that Cheyney, which a few years ago had a 3:1 faculty to manager ratio, is now close to 2:1,” said Mash.
“It should be clear that all of our universities should be supportive of Governor Wolf and his budget. He has demonstrated his support of public higher education by committing to restoring the 2011 cuts over the next two years. Since 80 percent of our graduates remain in Pennsylvania, we absolutely want them to be prepared for the workforce. It is APSCUF’s hope that Governor Wolf and the General Assembly can come together to craft a budget that helps our students and their families.”
Remarks of Dr. Kenneth M. Mash
Before the Board of Governors
July 9, 2015
Where Does the Money Go?
Chairman Pichini, Governors, Chancellor Brogan, University Presidents, and guests. I am Kenneth Mash, and I am the President of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
We, APSCUF, have dedicated a lot of time and energy into trying to get a full picture of the finances of the State System and its fourteen great universities. Every time we think we have a handle on those resources, we are surprised to learn something new. Although we agree that the new dashboards are helpful tools, they do not begin to afford someone the full picture of what transpires.
I am certain that if I were to poll the members of the General Assembly, the students and their families who pay the tuition bills, and even members of the general public, they would think that there is an ever increasing amount of money that can be attributed to the costs of instruction, including the costs of salaries and benefits spent on faculty. They would certainly think that if they listened to the presentations given by a couple of the university presidents over the last week.
But if you manage to piece together bits and pieces of information, there is a very different story to tell. I will leave charts with the chair which demonstrate that compared to other 4-year public institutions, the state systems schools spend less, and in most cases far less of a percentage of their overall operating budgets on instruction, than the national average per full-time enrolled students. Furthermore, the majority of our institutions, with some notable exceptions, are spending even less of a percentage of their operating budgets on instruction than they did a few years back.
If that money is not going to instruction, where does the money go? Recent events have given us some clues to start to ferret out the answer. We have not yet gotten our secret decoder rings to figure it all out. But, for one thing, it is clear that money moves pretty freely out of the Education and General Funds at the universities into unrestricted plant funds and to affiliated organizations. We could add to those numbers growth in administration at most of our universities, including some that were simultaneously eliminating programs and laying off faculty.
Clearly the policies of previous governors have hurt our universities. The drastic cuts of the previous administration only tell a part of the story. A richer and more accurate story goes back to how money for capital projects was cut. It is important to understand how our universities were forced to increase matching funds for building projects while being generally ill equipped to raise those funds, how the debt for those projects taps into educational and general funds, and how Key 93 money was eliminated.
With one glaring exception, our universities have not shown themselves to be deft at raising money for building projects. But, why should they be? We are state-owned universities. When our universities “own” buildings, they do not truly own them. The Commonwealth does. Ultimately those buildings are assets of the Commonwealth. I dare say that the members of the General Assembly and perhaps the Governor, do not adequately understand the task that is laid at the feet of our university administrations. To be honest, I have my doubts about whether all members of the Board fully understand.
Regardless, it is clear that money that most would think is dedicated to things like instruction, intercollegiate athletics, academic support, security, residence life, etc. is going to construction. In fact, the matching policies of this Board, the Board’s allowance for the use of the affiliated organizations encourages this. Again and again plans are approved to make purchases without an adequate accounting to what will ultimately happen to those precious E&G funds.
This system’s mission continues to be to provide a high quality education at an affordable cost. Instruction lies at the core of a high quality education, and the university budgets need to reflect that. Ambiance is a key part of running a successful restaurant, but if you skimp on the food, the customers stop coming.
I sincerely hope that when the System puts in its next budget request that it asks for money for the area that seems to be draining its budget, that is, that there is a request for additional capital funds and debt relief for our universities. Until then, I would hope that this Board would ask more public questions about “where does the money go?”