The negotiations session scheduled for today, Monday October 12, has been cancelled by the State System. The APSCUF negotiations team is meeting internally today at the APSCUF office in Harrisburg.
The next round of negotiations is scheduled for Friday, November 6.
Remarks of Dr. Kenneth M. Mash
Before the Board of Governors
October 8, 2015
Mr. Chairman, Governors, and Chancellor Brogan,
These are certainly interesting times. As you meet today to consider new programs, an allocation request, and “pilot” programs at our universities, we know you do so amid the uncertainty that is permeating the Commonwealth’s capital.
One can only empathize with our university presidents and their administrations as they face this uncertain future. We were more than pleased yesterday to hear the Finance Committee discuss increasing its allocation request to the level of or even beyond the cuts of 2011. It would seem to make little sense to in anyway undercut the Governor, who has repeatedly stated his hope to restore the massive cuts of 2011.
Our universities have made sacrifices, and it has been our students who have suffered the most.
This Board is well aware of the cuts in programs and in staff. However, it does not get discussed enough how drastic the cuts have been in terms of increased class sizes, cuts in student support services, and in delayed plant maintenance. Monies for faculty research have dissipated or run dry, our ability to fund student research or external educational enterprises have shrunk, supplies are scarce, and too often our students struggle to get the courses they need to graduate.
Further, academic enterprises must be on the cutting edge, and it is very difficult to explore new opportunities, invest in modern equipment, or offer the highest quality education when the mindset is always one that calls for our universities to scramble to save every penny in order to survive. That our universities continue to innovate, educate, improve our communities, and shape future generations is a tribute to our administrators, our staff, our faculty, and most of all to the ambition, intelligence, and drive of our students.
But living with uncertainty and the pressures of penny pinching does not create an atmosphere for academic success. And so an allocation should indeed cover expenses and probable expenses, but the question ought to be raised to our universities, what are you not doing, and what more can you responsibly do with an increased allocation to benefit our students and move our Commonwealth forward.
Our faculty do, sincerely, empathize with our university presidents and their administrations as they attempt to come to grips with the uncertainty. We understand why they are looking at additional ways to raise revenue. But there is no escaping the fact there was a scholarship winner here yesterday who related to you how she must travel to work her job to cover her college expenses at Shippensburg University. There is no escaping the fact that Mansfield students, many of whom are from impoverished communities, are already shouldering the highest student debt of any university in the System. There is no escaping the fact that when a university says that its “pilot” is bringing in expected “revenue,” in the real world that means that our students, so many of whom hail from proud working-class families, will be piling up additional debt and their families will be forced to make additional sacrifices.
It is, indeed, a quandary for our university presidents. It is a product of our interesting times. As you put it eloquently yesterday, Mr. Chairman, our universities, unlike some others, are almost entirely dependent on tuition, fees, and a dwindling state allocation. Clearly the numbers do not add up. And it is clearly the job of our university administrations to make sure that they do.
But before our universities go about instituting their “pilots” – and avoiding the euphemisms - increases in fees and tuition – doesn’t this Board have an obligation to our students to continue to do everything possible to make the case to the Governor and the General Assembly that we need more by way of allocation? Doesn’t this Board have an obligation to see actual data about the results of the existing “pilots” before implementing new ones? And perhaps most importantly doesn’t this Board have an obligation to hear directly from its students? There may not be three empty chairs, but their absence is palpable. Let’s all encourage some movement on filling the seats on the Board that the law requires be filled by our students.
I say all of this fully understanding that the politics and finances of the Commonwealth may yet continue to deprive its only 14 truly public universities, our students, and their families. And if the question is do or die, there may be no other option but to proceed, to continue to privatize our universities, and to acknowledge that truly public higher education in Pennsylvania is nearing its death.
But please, before you act, let’s all try to make the case louder and more forcefully. Let’s see the actual data. And most of all let’s hear from our students.
Negotiators for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) and the State System of Higher Education met yesterday, Monday, September 22, 2015, at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg. The two sides continued to discuss the retrenchment article and began conversations about criminal background checks as they were required to by the Commonwealth Court order. Negotiations are scheduled to continue October 12, 2015 at the APSCUF office in Harrisburg.
You, our students, will undoubtedly have many important deadlines on your minds this fall (drop and add periods, course withdrawals, assignment submissions, and extracurricular deadlines), but there’s another very important deadline that students too often overlook. This year, circle in big red felt on your print calendar and set multiple reminders on your devices this date: October 5, 2015.
October 5th is the last day students and other citizens can register to vote in the November 3rd election; and it is an important one. While justices of the United States Supreme Court are appointed, Pennsylvanians elect their State Supreme Court Justices. Your vote will matter, and now you can register to vote or change your address online!
This November election, you will have the opportunity to vote for 3 Pennsylvania Supreme Court seats. This is the same court that recently held the state Voter ID law to be unconstitutional, approved of the map for legislative districts, ruled against big business in favor of fair wages, and legalized same-sex marriage. Some of the most important social and legal rulings impacting you will occur at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to make your voice heard through the ballot box.
Online voter registration is now quick, painless, and efficient. Simply visit www.register.votesPA.com. The online form takes about 5 minutes to complete and submit, shorter than it takes to drink a cup of coffee! You’ll receive an application number and a copy of your application downloadable in PDF format. In about 14 days you’ll receive your shiny, new voter’s registration card for you to use at the polls November 3rd.
Your vote matters, and you can influence the process. The amount of money you will pay in tuition is directly impacted by the state legislators you elect; the level of equality and fair treatment you receive will be determined by the judges voted on this year.
Today American freedom doesn’t even cost you a stamp—just five minutes to register your voice online and another five to make it heard at the polls on November 3rd.
Who can’t spare that?
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.