My department chair (via our Dean, via the Provost) just e-mailed around this article from the Indiana Gazette (originally published Fri 6/11, updated Sat 6/12).
The short version is that IUP management proposes, by Fall 2012, eliminating 62 (yes, that’s right–SIXTY-TWO!!!!!!) programs from the university’s curriculum, ranging from Associates to Masters degree programs. Management offers a variety of rationales for elimination: low enrollments, high expenses, changing needs in the Commonwealth, the current budget crisis, and so on, all of which every PASSHE campus has heard before, and some of which aren’t especially consistent with each other. Management also lobs the retrenchment-grenade, albeit in a vague way. Furthermore, as IUP-APSCUF Vice-President Francisco Alarcon notes:
“I think it’s posturing for the most part,” said Vice President Francisco Alarcon. He said he believes the plan is an attempt by administrators to scare faculty into retirement, which would save the university money.
Alarcon said it is unclear to him the basis on which the decision to discontinue any given program was made. He said the decisions seemed arbitrary and had no real analysis behind them.
He also said the proposal fails to outline which programs are to benefit, and to what extent, from the elimination of others.
Buried among a great many slippery claims in the article, I was simultaneously relieved and disturbed to find this one, in a statement from IUP Interim President Werner:
“While commonwealth budget issues have been at the center of many of our discussions and decisions, even if future budgets are more favorable than currently projected, the university must still preserve and invest in its strongest and highest-quality programs through strategic reallocation,” he wrote.
Do you see what I see? I see a not-very-subtle admission that the agenda here has little, if anything, to do with the economic viability of IUP, and most certainly little, if anything, to do with the quality of the institution as it currently fulfills its mission. I see, as Kevin Mahoney has written about several times on the KUXchange, an effort to transform PASSHE schools, heart and soul, into degree-manufacturing facilities that turn out widgets, um, I mean degree-bearing workers, er, um, I mean students, er um (What about PEOPLE?!?), quality of their education be damned.
[I’ll have a post ready later this week about PASSHE’s participation in a program run by a think (ahem) tank called the US Educational Delivery Institute, one implication of which is that it provides another layer of cover for this attack.]
So, for those of us who work in or attend PASSHE schools, two points to leave you with–
1. We ALL have to be on the lookout for these moves on our campuses. If your management hasn’t yet unveiled (admitted to) these plans, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You’re not.
2. I know the IUP-APSCUF chapter is one of the best organized chapters in our union. They’re very capable of fighting this fight, but they shouldn’t have to do it without knowing we support them and stand ready to help in any way we can.