More than 100 faculty members at five Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools received retrenchment letters as of Oct. 30.
Cheney, Lock Haven, Indiana, Edinboro and Mansfield universities sent the letters, according to a press release from the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF). Both tenured and tenure-track faculty received the letters.
Lock Haven sent out the least with only two letters and IUP sent out the most with 81 letters, according to the release.
Officials at California and Clarion universities have not sent out letters but it remains a possibility, the release said.
The deadline for alerting tenured faculty in the collective bargaining agreement was Oct. 30 and is only the first of multiple deadlines for other letters to be given to faculty, according to the press release.
Probationary non-tenured faculty beyond the second year must be notified by Dec. 1, second-year probationary non-tenured faculty by Dec. 15 and first year probationary non-tenured faculty by March 1 as required by the APSCUF contract.
Faculty layoffs are a blow to professors and take away opportunities from students, said APSCUF president Jamie Martin.
“Retrenchment is devastating at any time, but these letters are threatening to take away livelihoods and healthcare in the middle of a global pandemic,” Martin said.
A retrenchment letter does not guarantee the faculty member will not have a job in the future and the union will continue to try to find alternatives to faculty cuts, the press release said.
APSCUF understands Pennsylvania is near the bottom of public-funded higher education in many ways and has already tried to balance its budget without job cuts, Martin said.
During negotiations for the contract signed last year, there had been no mention of potential retrenchment or APSCUF would have fought to avoid it, according to Martin.
The potential retrenchment comes from PASSHE Chancellor Daniel Greenstein’s calling for state schools to return to the student/faculty ratios of the 2010-11 academic year, according to the press release.
However, the faculty struggled with large class sizes during that time and returning to this ratio would hurt students, Martin said. Students, alumni, faculty and community members wishing to advocate against retrenchment can visit apscuf.org/students/#Retrenchmentstudents to learn more, according to the press release.