Monthly Archives: June 2011

IUP management proposes radical (and not in a good way) overhaul of the university

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.

 

 

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Collective Bargaining, Indiana University of PA, PASSHE, Program elimination, Public education, Retirement, Retrenchment, Shock Doctrine, West Chester University

ACTION ITEM: Write your PA Senator NOW!

This letter went out to all APSCUF members from our Legislative Director, Laura Saccente, this morning. Some of you don’t read your e-mail over the summer, and many of you (who see the blog posts on Facebook) aren’t APSCUF members.

One editorial note–this version of the letter is addressed directly to constituents of Senator Dinniman. If he’s not your Senator, you should write to your own.

Laura’s letter explains why you need to do this, so I don’t have to. Just do it.

Dear APSCUF member,
 
In May 2011, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a budget bill (House bill 1485) that would set the appropriation for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) at $427.8 million. While this is better than the originally proposed cut of 54 percent, it still represents a cut of 15 percent, or a $75 million reduction from last year’s state appropriation to PASSHE.
 
The budget proposal is currently in the Senate, and we need you to contact your Senator and ask for additional funding restoration for PASSHE.  Additional restoration could help keep a large tuition increase at bay and further reduce staff layoffs.   Please contact your own member, Senator Andrew Dinniman, the Education Chair, at andy@pasenate.com or (717) 787-5709.
 
Time is very limited and the budget will be wrapping up soon, so please take five minutes to send your email or make a phone call today!  Please do not use university email or stationary when making your case.  If you have already contacted your senator in recent months, this is the opportunity to follow up with him or her to request restoration of PASSHE funding.
 
When giving examples on the reason to restore funding, please consider how PASSHE has wisely used its appropriations dollars, how cuts may affect department/program cuts and class sizes, how a large tuition increase will limit the ability for some to attend, etc.  I’ve also attached a general budget message sheet if you need additional talking points.  Let your senator know today, before it’s too late, how the proposed cuts may impact your campus.
 
Thank you,
Laura Saccente

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, PASSHE, Public education, Student activism, Tom Corbett, West Chester University

And yet another attack on tenure

Our friends at Inside Higher Ed just keep the hits comin’.

This morning (6/8), IHE gives the floor to Naomi Schaefer Riley, whose pithily (snark!) titled new book The Faculty Lounges hits the streets soon.

Schaefer, who has written about arts and education for the Wall Street Journal, is (predictably) not a big fan of higher ed, even though both of her parents were professors.

Anyway, as you read this interview, all I’ll add editorially is this: in my estimation, her concern for adjunct faculty (her argument is that tenure enables the exploitation of adjunct faculty because as tenure makes us lazier, somebody has to do all the real work) is nothing but a smokescreen behind which her real agenda (a very barely masked Horowitzian political attack) lurks. She refers, obliquely but repeatedly, to the problems of faculty who are conservative (they’re the ones most at risk if the protections of tenure go away) and to the notion that fixed-term contracts will help “diversify” (Horowitz’s buzzterm for “make more conservative) faculties.

In short, after years of hearing David Horowitz, Lynne Cheney, and their ilk blusterblusterbluster about radicalism in the academy to no avail, I suspect Riley is supposed to sound like the voice of reason. And she does, except for the fact that almost everything she says is wrong.

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Filed under AAUP, Academic Freedom, APSCUF, Inside Higher Ed, Public education, Tenure

Another flagrant attack on tenure

Seth is back from a much needed vacation, and I wish my first post of the summer brought better news.

From this morning’s Inside Higher Ed, an article called From Tenured to Adjunct describes the University of Louisiana system’s move to fire tenured faculty and rehire them as adjunct faculty. I won’t even summarize the details here–it’s too disheartening to rehash them, and you can read the story by clicking the link–but it’s clear that the financial issues are NOT at the heart of the matter. It’s also clear that because Louisiana law doesn’t require “financial exigency” as the standard they have to meet before they can retrench tenured faculty, they have a certain flexibility that PASSHE also has (because we don’t require it either).

As I’ve said dozens of times by now, in various settings: you may not find this frightening personally, although I can’t imagine how it doesn’t make you at least a little nervous. But even if it doesn’t scare you, it ought to BLOODY INFURIATE YOU that a bunch of suits would treat our colleagues and profession like this.

And again, as I’ve also said repeatedly here and elsewhere, thank whatever deity you believe in for our union, which makes it a whole lot harder for anti-education forces to have their way with us.

And when you get done thanking that deity, maybe it’s about time (if you haven’t already) for you to send an e-mail to your local APSCUF leadership asking what you can do to support our fight. Thankfulness is great; effort is better.

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Inside Higher Ed, PASSHE, Tenure, University of Louisiana