Notices of possible faculty layoffs go out at five of Pa's 14 state-owned universities

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Notices of possible faculty layoffs have been sent to union leaders at five of Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities, including Clarion, Edinboro, Cheyney, East Stroudsburg and Mansfield, officials said today.

The professor cuts, if they happen, would occur at the close of the 2014-15 academic year. Possible numbers have not been decided and will be discussed in the weeks ahead, State System spokesman Kenn Marshall said.

Campus presidents are required to notify union leaders by Aug. 1 of potential retrenchment under the State System of Higher Education’s collective bargaining agreement with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties,

Individuals affected would receive notices in the fall as the universities decide the extent of the cuts.

The 112,000-student system says it has been working to better align academic offerings with changing student demand. The 14 schools are living with lower enrollment and less state aid, and officials have said the campuses collectively could lose the equivalent of another 1,000 full-time students this fall.

“Each and every one of our universities is making strategic decisions now that will ensure relevance, quality, and vitality well into the future,” State System Chancellor Frank Brogan said in a statement. “The State System is evolving so it can meet the future needs of our students and the Commonwealth.”

He said the process is not soley a product of declining resources.

Retrenchment notices have become a recurring event across the system, whose enrollment peaked at 120,000 students in 2010. Last year, 44 layoff notices to tenured or tenure-track faculty were sent out, but through transfers and other measures the actual number of job losses was reduced 14 individuals, Mr. Marshall said.

Leadership of APSCUF expressed hope the job cuts could be avoided and said they mean the academic year will begin for many professors with uncertainty.

"Our faculty are professionals who will do their jobs, but at stake is the very core of a quality education, said Kenneth M. Mash, APSCUF president. "Universities that lay off faculty permanently damage their reputations and do nothing for their students, alumni and their communities."

In addition to Clarion and Edinboro, the 14 universities include in western Pennsylvania California, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities.

Bill Schackner:, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG First Published July 30, 2014 12:00 AM

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