Her name is Leah Chambers. She is a recent faculty hire in Clarion University's English department. And in May, she could be out of a job.
A snapshot of the 31-year-old smiling with her 4-year old daughter Ava appears beside a list of the woman's campus achievements in writing instruction and in student retention. The image, posted on Facebook, is part of a campaign by faculty to put faces on the teaching jobs across campus that may be cut.
The arrival Monday of fall classes at Clarion was accompanied by a continuing divide over a workforce plan that Clarion's president, Karen Whitney, says is needed to both right the university's finances and reposition it amid a sluggish economy, declining enrollment and deep state funding cuts.
Today at 5 p.m., she is expected to host the first of three on-campus forums in Hart Chapel to discuss proposals that are being watched by those at Pennsylvania's 13 other state-owned universities, a number of which face enrollment declines and budget shortfalls of their own.
Part of the 32-page document released to the Clarion campus Aug. 15 discussed efforts to shift resources into areas of likely growth, including science and technology. It outlined new degree programs and a desire to realize $2 million in additional revenue by reducing the number of students who drop out or postpone their studies.
But it is the part of the plan addressing a deficit that could reach $12 million by 2015 that has drawn the ire of many employees, alumni and others. They fear what the university restructuring would do to programs across campus.
Up to 40 people could lose their jobs, including as many as 22 faculty in various disciplines, including music, modern languages, English and others.
"For me, it was pretty devastating," said Ms. Chambers, an assistant professor of English and one of those facing job loss who agreed to be featured in "The Faces of Retrenchment" page created on Facebook.
"I just think it's important that they know the people who are behind the numbers and the good work that they have done," she said. "I'm from a working-class family. I took out a lot of student loans to get out of college. It's incredibly scary."
Clarion's workforce plan did not identify by name those who could be let go, but Elizabeth MacDaniel, head of Clarion's chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, said affected professors in many cases know their likely fate given their seniority within campus departments that are identified in the plan.
Ms. Chambers, a Michigan native hired in 2010, said the three proposed faculty cuts in English inevitably would touch her, since she has the least departmental seniority.
Ms. Whitney said days before the plan's release that she wanted to post it on Clarion's website to ensure a full and robust discussion. She has extended until Monday a deadline for comments to be sent to her at email@example.com.
Of those received so far, "the vast majority are expressing concerns," said David Love, a Clarion spokesman.
But he said others support the plan, and the school has spoken to some of them in hopes more will go public. One who has is Darren Young, 22, a student member of Clarion's Council of Trustees, who said the plan will deliver short-term pain but long-term benefits.
"I just think everyone needs to look at the whole picture," said Mr. Young, a senior from Millerstown outside Harrisburg. "I feel bad for any faculty or employee that might lose their job, but I would much rather see the university be strong in a few years.
"With a $12 million deficit, that's just what we're going to have to do," he said.
Clarion lost nearly 7 percent of its enrollment last year, and the campus of 6,500 students could see another 9 percent decline this fall.
Mr. Love said there was widespread misunderstanding of the portion of the plan involving Clarion's College of Education and Human Services, which like other education colleges statewide has seen sharp enrollment losses.
He said language in the plan that says "eliminate [the] college and reorganize programs /departments into the other colleges" was incorrectly viewed by many as a decision by Clarion to abandon education instruction. The university has said the instruction will continue in restructured form and may be paired with other disciplines including science to increase demand.
Bill Schackner: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.