East Stroudsburg is fourth state-owned Pennsylvania university to announce cuts

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East Stroudsburg University today became the fourth state-owned school in Pennsylvania to announce faculty and program cuts to shore up campus finances amid enrollment losses and state aid cuts.

The university said it will eliminate 15 tenured and tenure-track faculty positions in several disciplines, but it has offered eight of those professors the option of being transferred instead of being laid off.

Facing a projected $6.9 million deficit in 2014-15, the school said it will permanently close its department of movement activities and lifetime fitness and place in moratorium its bachelor of arts in music as well as bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in French.

Those already enrolled will finish but no new students will be enrolled in those degrees. Minors in French and German also are being placed in moratorium.

University officials said faculty reductions will occur in the following departments: chemistry, early childhood and elementary education, physical education teacher education, physics, and the non-academic department of counseling and psychological services. Majors will still be offered in those areas, the university said.

East Stroudsburg joins Clarion, Edinboro and Mansfield universities in planning cuts in low-enrolled degree programs and other reductions including eliminating nearly 150 campus positions, including dozens of faculty.

“We understand this is a very upsetting time for students and their families,” university President Marcia G. Welsh said in a statement. “However, it is our duty to address budget shortfalls so ESU can continue its mission to remain student focused and continuously improve the student learning experience in preparation for the job market.”

In recent days, students and faculty in anticipation of today’s announcement have rallied in hopes the school would reconsider.

If faculty accept transfers, they would move at the same pay level to existing positions being vacated through early retirements, the university has said. The positions they leave will not be filled.

Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1977. Twitter: @BschacknerPG

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