BY VALENTINA CAVAL
During the spring semester of 2013, the East Stroudsburg University Administration gave The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty (APSCUF) a retrenchment letter that would allow the university to lay off both tenured and non-tenured faculty members.
The issue of retrenchment is due to the financial difficulties ESU is facing.
“The deficit for this year has been resolved,” said Kenneth Long, vice president of finance. “We used close to $3 million in one-time dollars to balance the budget. The problem is because the deficit is structural that $3 million comes back next year, plus another $3 million on top.”
There is a projected $6.9 million budget deficit for the next academic year.
The decisions on the retrenchment of tenured faculty were finalized earlier this week.
The department of Movement and Lifetime Fitness will be permanently closed.
A moratorium will be placed on the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, and on the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in French. Minors in both French and German will also be phased out.
Students will have three more years to finish their degrees in these programs. No new students will be admitted.
Departments where tenured faculty were retrenched are Chemistry, Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Physical Education and Teacher Education, and the non-academic department of Counseling and Psychological services.
These changes will result in the elimination of 15 tenured or tenure-track academic faculty positions.
On Monday, ESU administration, offered eight of those tenured or tenure-track faculty department transfers instead of retrenchment. They had 24 hours to decide. Seven professors accepted their transfers.
The department of Counseling and Psychological Services will be reduced by one tenured faculty member.
Physical Education will be reduced by two tenured faculty members. They both have accepted transfers.
Chemistry will be reduced by three faculty members. Physics will be reduced by one; that professor did not accept the transfer to another department.
The Music department will be reduced by one faculty member. With two other faculty members over the next few years as they teach out the programs. This allows every student who is currently a Music major at ESU to graduate in that major.
Six faculty members will be retrenched and two positions that will become vacant at the end of this academic year will not be filled.
These six faculty members will remain in their current position through May, 2014.
The vacant positions are due to non renewals and non-tenure process. They are separate from the retrenchment process. The vacant positions are in the Chemistry and Physics departments.
Administration claims they have also experienced cuts.
“In Academic Affairs they have gone from five senior administrators down to three,” said President Welsh.
According to Long, the retrenchment will save about $1.1 million. That’s about 16 percent of the projected budget deficit.
Non-tenured faculty will see reductions as the academic year continues.
“We will continue in the spring to significantly reduce temporary faculty,” said Provost Van Reidhead.
The Provost will continue to meet with departments to decide on these cuts.
A continued concern of faculty and students during the retrenchment process was the construction of the Keystone Building—at a projected $110 million cost.
“The Keystone Building cannot be financed by the E&G funds,” said Long.
According to Long, the funds for the Keystone Building are not transferable, and would not impact the issue of retrenchment.
Hundreds of students and faculty raised concerns about retrenchment Tuesday, at a rally held at the Stonehenge.
“I am offended by the people who think that this has been easy for us,” said President Welsh. “I’ve been called names that I never even knew were in the dictionary.”
President Welsh advised students to write to their local legislators about the budget cuts, and continue to focus on their studies.
“The concern of retrenchment is difficult for our entire university community,” said Student Senate President, Justin Amann. “I am disappointed by the use of students as pawns in a political chess match.”
According to the Vice President of local APSCUF, Dr. Andrea McClanahan, the faculty were notified of the retrenchments at the same time as the press, in a press release that was sent out on Wednesday afternoon.
“What is being done here is nothing short of heartbreaking. It is very emotional,” said APSCUF Vice President, Ken Mash. “The unilateral decisions from the top not only hurt faculty being fired, it strikes at all we have done to make this university great. Most importantly, it hurts the quality of education we can deliver to our students.”
Student Senate members met with both APSCUF, and the administration as the process of retrenchment was in discussion.
“I call on our administration to make decisions that are in the best interest of ESU and our great students,” said Amann. “I call on faculty to keep this concern outside of the classroom. I call on my fellow students to continue to have their voices heard in an appropriate manner.”
Although, this first stage of the restructuring process is complete, administration announces that there will be more changes to come.
According to Long, the workforce plans so far are just a few of many more steps the administration will be taking.
A second stage of planning will include the development of an academic plan, which will be guided by the university’s strategic plan. That plan will be due in early 2014.
“This mustn’t serve as an opportunity to further divide ourselves, but rather the catalyst to come together as one united ESU,” said Amann.
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