Edinboro U. students, faculty, alumni stage impromptu sit -in at president's office

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Several dozen Edinboro University students along with alumni and some faculty protested and staged an improptu sit-in outside the office of school President Julie Wollman today over planned program and professor cuts.

The demonstrators, who had marched through campus earlier in the day, entered Reeder Hall about 2:30 p.m. intent on delivering to Ms. Wollman a petition with 1,200 signatures asking her to reconsider, said Crystal Folmar, 21, a senior communications major from South Park.

When told by an assistant that the president was unavailable, many in the group sat down in the lobby and waited, Ms. Folmar said.

Photos tweeted from scene showed individuals holding placards that read, “Goodbye Excellence” and “Save our Staff.”

After about and hour, Ms. Wollman showed up and took several questions from the group, which dispersed about 4 p.m., Ms. Folmar said.

“She was telling us she would be making cuts across the board, that it would not be just programs and faculty,” Ms. Folmar said by phone. “We were asking just where she is going to make those cuts.”

In September, Edinboro unveiled a workforce plan to erase a projected $5.5 million budget deficit that called for cutting programs and more than 50 employees, including 42 faculty positions. Two other state-owned universities, Clarion and Mansfield, also have announced program and job cuts, including more than 60 faculty positions, and East Stroudsburg University is preparing to release its own plan.

All are members of the State System of Higher Education.

Jeffrey Hileman, an Edinboro spokesman, said the president had little advance word the students were coming but has encouraged their participation.

“We’re still working on alternatives to faculty retrenchment. I think some good progress has been made,” he said. “We welcome the fact that our students are passionate about their education and about Edinboro.”

Last week, the university gave a reprieve to its Bachelor of Arts in Music and Bachelor of Music Education programs, which were slated to be discontinued. Both will continue but with fewer faculty, the university said.

Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG

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