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Posts Tagged ‘council of trustees’

Hey all…a group of students have planned a rally to resist Governor Corbett’s higher education cuts.  A couple of of the students sent me information and I am thrilled to see students unwilling to stand by and watch affordable higher education evaporate in Pennsylvania.  I wanted to do my part to help support their efforts.  Here is a flyer supporting the rally. [click the link to the left for PDF].  Oh!  I should probably tell you that the KU Board of Trustees is also meeting on the 17th at 4pm in Stratton Administration Building, Room 301.

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Bonnet de noelIn my most recent post, “between Stalin and squirrels,” you may recall that I referred to a “concept paper” that PASSHE Chancellor Cavanaugh provided to State APSCUF Executive Committee for consideration.  According to APSCUF President Steve Hicks, Chancellor Cavanaugh asked the Executive Committee to review and “approve or not.”  In Hicks’s response to the Chancellor, he indicates that the Executive Committee “could not consent” to participate in the plan called for in the concept paper.  And at the very end of Hicks’s memo, he adds “At lunch you told me the Cal State system was ‘on board.’  I checked with them and the union is emphatically not.”  Good to know.

I have been very interested in reviewing that paper, but our State APSCUF leadership has been unwilling to make the document public.  Given a series of developments on Kutztown’s campus–e.g. talk of “smart growth” and “growing programs without additional resources”–and the Chancellor’s recent memo concerning PASSHE transformation, I have suspected that the Chancellor’s Office has been influenced by that “concept paper” in ways that we are already beginning to see creep into the administration’s language.

As readers of the XChange know, I have been sharpening my focus on the Kutztown administration’s failure of vision and planning.  Given this vacuum of vision, I would bet that whatever the Chancellor has in mind for PASSHE transformation, Kutztown will be a test case.  There is, of course, a track record for this.  For example, “Commonalities” was piloted here.  We were the test case for retrenchment.  Kutztown President Cevallos has also demonstrated a consistent pattern of taking cover behind the mandates from the Office of the Chancellor, the Board of Trustees, or the Board of Governors.  Chancellor Cavanaugh’s “PASSHE transformation” would be a convenient way of plugging the Kutztown leadership vacuum and test out “transformation.” However, as Hicks and Mash noted in their response to the Chancellor’s memo on the APSCUF blog,  the Chancellor’s memo was rather vague.  Big concepts, thin on specifics.  Not surprising, of course.

Well, someone must have been in the holiday mood today.

It seems that “Santa” made a stop by my office overnight.  Upon arriving to work, I was pleased to find a little gift.  Santa gave me a copy of the “concept paper.”  Now, I am in such a wonderful mood that I wanted to join in the holiday spirit of giving.  My gift to you:

Concept Paper on Re-engineering the Undergraduate Curriculum

Given that this document may have a significant impact on the future of our working lives, it seemed to me that it would be a good idea to check out what the Chancellor’s Office is reading.

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Readers of the XChange may remember my post from March 25, 2010 in which I discussed PASSHE’s move to join other colleges and universities in using the current economic “crisis” to fundamentally restructure American higher education. This same dynamic is evident in a recent Inside Higher Education article, “A Critique of the Cuts.”  The article reports on a widely circulating video of professor of classical and Near East Studies, Eva von Dassow’s address to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents about continued budget cuts at the university (video below).  I won’t summarize her remarks as you can watch it below.

I do want to point out, however, that the issues that von Dassow identifies are not so different from the ones we hear coming from Kutztown’s administration or the Chancellor’s office at PASSHE.  Here’s a short excerpt from the article:

Specifically, she said that “those programs engaged in the production of knowledge that is readily turned into the money are the targets of investment while the rest are to be downsized into an efficient credit and degree factory.” She cited liberal arts programs losing faculty slots while there is money for new biomedical research professors (taking care to say that biomedical research is indeed valuable and that she was questioning only the idea that other programs aren’t worthy based on their lack of financial payoff).

Here is the video:

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In my March 29th post, “On Group Think and Catastrophe,” I reproduced a very pointed argument made at our local APSCUF-KU Meet and Discuss table made by former APSCUF-KU Vice President, Ken Ehrensal.  His argument called out KU Administration budget officials’ problematic use of “worst-case-scenario” logic, in particular, the logic of a budget catastrophe.  Here is an exert from that post:

Second, Ehrensal argued that the budget presentations given by Ken Long, Assistant VP of Administration and Finance, assume every catastrophic scenario.  For example, KU’s budget projections assume a 2.5% annual increase in tuition.  However, the Chancellor has been talking about a 4% increase.  If the Chancellor’s numbers hold, our “budget crisis” will be cut in half.  Long also built-in a 3.5% increase in salary for all union employees (including faculty).  However, all contracts are up for negotiation this year.  New contracts for all university unions will be in place starting July 2011.  If the salary increases are lower than 3.5%, the “budget crisis” could be cut in half (I didn’t write down the percentage that Ehrensal was working with).  Further, Long built-in to h

is analysis that the PA Legislature will not fix the problem with PSERS (PA State Employee Retirement System).  Failure to fix the problem, while possible, is not likely.  In short, the budget presentations represent a catastrophic scenario…not a likely scenario.

Despite our best efforts at the table, the administration continued to use these “catastrophic” budget projections in its presentation to faculty, staff, KU’s Board of Trustees, the Chancellor of PASSHE, and, of course, the media.  Just about every local news story about Kutztown administration’s move to retrench faculty and staff was willing to print the administration’s story of a dire budget crisis without question.  I personally reached out to a few reporters, pointed them to this blog, emailed them, and spoke to them on the phone about the problems with the Kutztown administration’s argument.  But, frankly, the adminstration’s narrative was compelling, especially since it seemed to echo that of the broader “economic crisis” narrative in the U.S. today.  In some ways, I can understand why our arguments, Ehrensal’s arguments in particular, did not gain traction.  It’s not easy to swim against the current of a dominant cultural narrative, especially when that narrative takes the form of a torrential downpour.

But just because a cultural narrative is compelling doesn’t mean that it’s accurate or true.  As a scholar and teacher of rhetoric you are taught to be very critical of cultural narratives that seem to “sweep people up” into them.  Such narratives are the ones that allow governments, businesses, con-men, and cult leaders get masses of people to do things that in “normal” times they would never do.

Well, that’s where we are folks.  KU’s administration has used the “catastrophe” narrative to cut jobs, removed fired administrators and staff from their offices with police escorts, reorganize programs, eliminate majors, all under the cover of media reports that reaffirmed what many people feared: “there’s nothing we can do.”  Well, the narrative hasn’t held.  As a matter of fact, in turned out that Ehrensal underestimated the degree to which KU’s administration was padding its numbers in order to create the appearance of crisis.  Here’s and article from yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

Pa. system approves 4.5% hike in college tuition

Undergraduate tuition at Pennsylvania’s state-owned colleges will increase $250, or 4.5 percent, under a $1.5 billion budget approved Thursday by the system’s board of governors.

Annual tuition for full-time resident undergraduates beginning this fall will be $5,804, which the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education said was the lowest among all four-year colleges and universities in the state. The system said it would receive $503.4 million in state and federal funding to support the current-year operating budget.

Resident graduate school tuition in 2010-11 will be $6,966, an increase of $300. Nonresident graduate tuition will increase $480, to $11,146. – Inquirer staff

You with me here?  Recall Ehrensal’s argument:

For example, KU’s budget projections assume a 2.5% annual increase in tuition.  However, the Chancellor has been talking about a 4% increase.  If the Chancellor’s numbers hold, our “budget crisis” will be cut in half.

Put simply, KU’s “budget crisis” has just been trimmed over 50% without a single faculty member losing her or his job, no program consolidation, no outsourcing of vehicles (yes, KU is now outsourcing to Enterprise Rent-a-Car at a cost of $41 a day.  I have heard, but haven’t yet confirmed that this is a PASSHE initiative).  So, there’s half your budget crisis.  It also looks like the PA Legislature is going to resolve the “crisis” in PSERS.  That “crisis” was supposedly going to put KU back by around $6 million.  Assuming that crisis have been averted, as predicted by Ehrensal, that cuts the “crisis” back even further.  You still following?

What this basically means is that KU’s administration and the administration at other PASSHE universities are not simply carrying out German-style austerity measures.  They are restructuring the State University system under the cover of the “budget crisis.”  As if citizens of the Commonwealth haven’t already experienced more than their share of “belt-tightening.”  Now, KU’s administration is given us all a spooky story right before bed in order to decrease citizens access to higher eduction–the very thing we’re told that is required to lift us out of this downturn.  Unjust desserts for the majority once again.

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As the fall semester quickly approaches and more PASSHE universities have announced plans to retrench over the summer, it is going to become increasingly necessary to continually ask the question: what’s the plan?

As several faculty members at Kutztown have pointed out, the administration’s retrenchment moves have seem haphazard at best.  The only organizing principle for their decision to close the Nursing program, for example, seems to have been made by rather crude accounting that the program was not currently “making money” for the university.  Yet, it would be wise for all of us  to place these “local” decisions into a a broader context.  Take, for example, this article from yesterday’s GantDaily.com.  The article discusses a recent report, “Offshorability of Pennsylvania Jobs,” issued by Penn State’s Workforce Education and Development Initiative:  Here’s a link to the article:

Penn State Experts: PA is More Susceptible to Job Offshoring | GantDaily.com.

The report points out that Pennsylvania jobs are more susceptible to offshoring compared to the rest of the nation.  That is because that many of the jobs–most of the jobs in some areas of the Commonwealth, actually–are in jobs that are considered high risk for offshoring.  What are some of the jobs that are NOT as susceptible to offshoring?  If you guessed health care jobs–in particular nursing–you’d be on the right track.

And yet, Kutztown chose to cut the nursing program.

The administration’s decisions have shown a persistent pattern of making decisions based upon short-term thinking, immediate cost-cutting, or what the magic 8-ball said.  Pennsylvanians deserve more than being treated like a number in an accountant’s ledger.  We need to demand that those people tasked with “managing” our educational lives (and lives in general!), plan for our future, not simply look for ways to wield their hatchets.  In the case of PASSHE, this means university administrations, university Boards of Trustees, the Chancellor and his staff, the PASSHE Board of Governors, our State Legislators, and the Governor (current and future).

So, if the plan involves only a hatchet with little consideration of long term planning, then maybe it’s time to “offshore” the administration and our State legislators to give all of us and our families a chance to live our lives with dignity and hope.

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Last week some, but apparent ly not all, faculty were sent a draft copy of PASSHE’s list of all the programs under review at the 14 PASSHE universities.  While the document may not be new to Kutztown’s faculty, I wanted to make sure that I put it up so it is available publicly for anyone who wants to check it out.  The document is dated June 14, 2010:

List of Lower Enrolled Programs Under Review:
June 14 2010 actions

One of the things that you’ll begin to notice is that several majors, such as French, Physics, and Philosophy are under review in some capacity across the state system.  I think it makes sense to look at this document as an artifact for some PASSHE’s plans for remaking Pennsylvania’s education system.  While most of us at PASSHE institutions have been primarily focused on the administration’s attack on faculty jobs and academic programs, it seems critical to situate our local struggles within the entire PASSHE system as to not miss the forest for the trees.

As PASSHE moves to remake the state university system we have been pushing to make local and state administrators be transparent in their decision-making process.  If you have been following discussions here you already know they have been inconsistent at best in doing so.

A few days ago I was handed an interesting document concerning PASSHE’s plans.  The document is a 1993 PASSHE Board of Governor’s “System Directive” concerning “Academic Program Moratorium and Termination.”  From what I understand, this document is still in force.  It’s interesting in that it is a DIRECTIVE from the Board of Governors for how program moratorium and termination is supposed to proceed.  The document may prove useful in holding our university administrations to their own rules.   Locally, we have already found evidence that our local administration has not followed the Board of Governor’s directive in some instances.  I’ll try to keep you up to date on how this plays out.

In any case, here is the document:

PASSHE BoG Directive on Moratorium and Termination 2-15-93

So, that’s my info for the day.  Stay cool in this heat!

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Well, someone’s been slipping documents under my door again.  Yup.  I was on campus last Friday doing English Placement for incoming students and arrived back on campus this morning around 10am for the same reason.  This morning I arrived in my office to find another document had fallen out of the air onto my desk.  This time, it’s the Independent Auditor’s Report for the year ending June 30, 2009.

I have to walk across campus in a few minutes to continue English Placement for incoming students and I’ve only had about 20 minutes to scan the document. I am not sure exactly what it will tell us, but I thought it better to have as many eyes on the document as possible.  So, without out further delay, here is the report:

KU Independent Audit Report: Year Ending June 2009

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