Clarion University APSCUF members fear proposed PASSHE integration plan could devastate Clarion, surrounding communities 

 

Clarion University APSCUF faculty members fear that the campus integration plan proposed by PASSHE could result in numerous employee layoffs, devastating the local economy and social fabric of Clarion and surrounding communities.

The integration plan, proposed by PASSHE Chancellor Daniel Greenstein, would combine Clarion University with California and Edinboro universities beginning in Fall 2022. Clarion University is Clarion County’s largest employer.

According to Clarion University APSCUF President Dr. Joyce Overly, dozens of Clarion-area professors, custodians, secretaries, and maintenance workers could lose their jobs under the proposed plan. “We’re talking about local families who purchase their homes and cars here, shop at small businesses, and attend local school districts and churches in the Clarion area,” she said. “If we lose these good-paying jobs, it will devastate our local communities and the people who live here. This is not just about providing education to rural Pennsylvanians – it is about the economic survival of small communities and their families.”

Overly said that Clarion University APSCUF has not yet taken a stand for or against PASSHE’s proposed integration plan.  Rather, its members want administrators to spend more time to studying the implications of the proposal and to properly plan the integration before implementing it.

Clarion University APSCUF has identified the following problems with PASSHE’s proposed integration plan:

  1. It does not fully outline economic and social impacts on local communities.
  2. It costs more than it saves. Over the first five years the plan costs $29.5 million. Over the first five years the plan saves only $18.4 million.
  3. It does not lower tuition or room and board. It actually assumes a 1% tuition increase.
  4. It is not equitable. The plan’s design forces some students into hybrid learning to obtain their degrees. Yet, the plan lacks details on what resources will be guaranteed for students having to take hybrid courses.
  5. It lacks predictability for students and their families. For example, PASSHE has not clearly outlined exactly how many credits a student is expected to take in the hybrid model.
  6. It fails to be transparent on potential options. For example, it does not include projected enrollment numbers if universities are not integrated.
  7. Although it offers practical goals and objectives, the proposed plan fails to explain how integration will help achieve these goals and objectives.
  8. It does not address how integration will impact the accreditation of educational programs.
  9. PASSHE has asked the NCAA to allow each campus in the consolidated universities to keep its existing sports teams. However, the NCAA has not yet announced its decision. Athletic programs and student-athletes are a valued part of our universities and PASSHE has no back-up plan in the event that NCAA denies the request.

“The proposal in its present state is not a well-structured plan,” Overly said. “Instead, it is a loose collection of ideas not yet fully formed. That puts local communities in a dangerous situation. If PASSHE’s proposal does not save Pennsylvania taxpayers any money, what’s the hurry to finalize it so quickly?”

On April 28, PASSE’s Board of Governors gave preliminary approval to two proposed integration plans. The plans would restructure six universities into two combinations of three. The integrated institutions would be California, Clarion, and Edinboro universities in the western part of the state and Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities in the northeastern region. The Board could give final approval to the integrations as soon as July.

A state-mandated public comment period is now open through June 30. Anyone wishing to learn more about this issue or offer comments can visit the PASSHE website  or submit comments to publiccomment@passhe.edu​​     Area residents can also follow “Save our State Schools” on Facebook.

Clarion University APSCUF serves as the voice of faculty and coaches at Clarion University. The organization upholds the highest standards of teaching, scholarly inquiry, and service. Its members are committed to promoting excellence in all they do to ensure that Clarion students receive the highest quality education.

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