We knew it was coming, but that still did not soften the blow last Friday when, at the negotiations table, the Chancellor’s Office confirmed the rumor that all fourteen of our universities would be sending out retrenchment notices for the 2012-13 academic year.
One might have reasonably expected that, given the context of Governor Corbett’s budget cuts and the need for all in our system to work together, that the Chancellor might, at least, delay this divisive and dispiriting initiative until the fog of the budget battle had cleared. This would have been the rational path, the politically astute path, and the empathetic path for our students and the faculty. They have, instead, moved precipitously.
Fortunately, our Association negotiated a CBA that protects us from impetuous administrative action. The retrenchment notices do not mean that there will, necessarily, be retrenchment. Under both Article 29 of our collective bargaining agreement and PASSHE’s internal guidelines, campus administrations (and the Office of the Chancellor [OOC]) are to begin the process by notifying the union of “any changes, including those involving curriculum and programs, which will lead to retrenchment.” These notices fulfill these requirements. We have been notified as to the possibility of retrenchment.
Thus, colleagues, we must fight on another front. Amid the budget battle and negotiations, both on your campus and in Harrisburg, we will fight on another front. There is no time to be panicked or discouraged. Our state meet and discuss teams and your local meet and discuss teams are ready for these battles. Our staff is ready.
With record enrollments for thirteen years, and years of budget surpluses, the universities are in a poor position to argue very vehemently that they need fewer faculty. It belies logic and calculation. The faculty is at the core of any serious academic mission, and we will never let them forget it.
We must remain diligent, steadfast, and united. We will fight any attempt to retrench faculty with all the tools at our disposal, but our most effective resource continues to be our ability to stand together with our students in support of quality public higher education. And, that we will do.