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Posts Tagged ‘west chester’

For the second time in less than a week, Kutztown University President Javier Cevallos chose to send faculty, staff, and students out into hazardous weather conditions and then decided a short time later to reverse course and close the university. On Monday, Kutztown University the announcement went out at 5:29 am that classes before noon were cancelled, but the university was open. The upshot of that meant that non-teaching employees at the university – secretaries, custodians, electrician, etc. –  still had to show up for work at their scheduled times. For most of those university employees, that meant getting to KU at 8 am or before. At 8:43 am, Cevallos reversed course and closed the university, sending all those workers back onto the roads in the middle of the worst winter storm of the season thus far. Many faculty had already begun their commutes to KU, leaving extra early due to the treacherous conditions. Many of them did not find out the university was closed until they pulled into the parking lot and check their phones. After all, if you’re trying to drive safely in the middle of a snow storm, chances are you’re not checking your email.

Shortly after his second decision, Cevallos sent this apology to the university community:

Dear Campus Community:

We are closing today, Monday 2/3.  I apologize for making some of you drive in such difficult conditions.  At 5:00 a.m. when I made the decision to cancel morning classes the forecast was for snow to end in the morning.  It is always a difficult decision, we do the best we can with the information we have.  Please drive safely.

OK. An apology. That’s better than what happened several times before – like during the February 1, 2011 storm. Lesson  learned, right?

Not so much.

Despite warnings from the National Weather Service and virtually every regional media outlet, it was deja vu all over again.

Here’s KU’s web page at 5:25 am:

KU weather 1

OK. At least the whole university was closed until noon. That must be what everyone else was doing then, right? Again, no so much.

West Chester University:

West Chester Closed

Cheney University:

Cheney Closed

East Stroudsburg University:

ESU Closed

Even the Dixon University Center – PASSHE’s corporate headquarters was closed:

Dixon Closed

The Borough of Kutztown also listened to the National Weather Service and issued a snow emergency. Kutztown University even posted it on their web page:

Borough Emergency

But maybe PASSHE universities were being extra cautious. Or maybe, conditions in the immediate area of Kutztown University were significantly different than everywhere else. Let’s see:

Alvernia University in Reading:

Alvernia Closed

Albright University in Reading:

Albright Closed

Reading Area Community College:

RACC Closaed

Lehigh Carbon Community College in Allentown:

LCCC Closed

So, it seems that there was at least a consensus that conditions were hazardous and that it was better to make sure people were not out on the roads, weathering sleet and freezing rain (not to mention power outages across the region).

Well, it seems Cevallos was a little late to the party, but by 9:50 am he had reversed course.

KU Weather 2

As much as Kutztown’s administration would like to continuously state that they make mistakes due to situations out of control, it should be painfully clear to anyone with have a memory that this is a failure of leadership. Flip-flopping on weather decisions is only a symptom.

Framingham Hoodie

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There has been significant news coverage of student and faculty rallies around the state in response to Corbett’s cuts, so I wanted to take a little time to post some of that coverage here.  I think it is critical that we see the work we are doing locally on our campuses and in our communities as part of a significant network of people working to push back against Corbett’s attempts to cut the future.  We might not all know each other (yet), but we are, nonetheless, in this together. Here is a sampling of the news just from the past couple of days:

Yes, there are a lot of articles here and no I didn’t put them in any special order.  I am sure that I missed several articles and stories that ran on local TV news stations.  But the point of posting all of them here, is to recognize that there is significant resistance to Corbett’s cuts and that students and faculty from around the state are already mobilized and resisting.  I’ve heard some students and faculty lament that the protests on their campuses should have been bigger.  OK, I hear ya.  However, I think we also need to see that when taken together, a couple thousand people stood up this past week and said: “Enough!”  AND…(continuing on my upbeat mood)…this Monday, March 28th we expect those folks and more to converge on the State Capitol and make our collective voices heard.

For now, plan on being in Harrisburg on Monday, March 28th.  Monday is a second day of State Senate budget hearings and we need to be outside and inside the chamber to make our presence knows.  The starts at 11:30 am and lasts till 1:00 pm.  The PASSHE hearing will begin at 1:30 pm.  The PASSHE hearing will last until 2:30 pm and then PHEAA will up on the stand.  The Rally is scheduled for outside at the Main Capitol Steps, but in case of rain, we have the Rotunda reserved as well. PSEA, who has their office directly across from the Main Capitol Steps, at 400 North Third Street, has offered their headquarters as a staging area, so faculty and students can arrive at 11:00 am.

Buses will be leaving Kutztown at 9am.  We will meet in the parking lot behind Beekey.  There are still a few seats left on APSCUF-KU’s two buses, so if you want a seat email APSCUF-KU or call 610.683.4277 asap to reserve your seat.  KU’s Student Government Board, Association of Campus Events, and Undergraduate Council also have several buses going.  If you can’t get space on our bus, you can sign up in MSU 153 or call 610.683.1383 with one of their buses.  APSCUF-KU has coordinated with the student groups and all of our buses will meet in the same place and leave at the same time.

So, keep the laments for better times.

GET ON THE BUS!

Jelcz M121MB

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Later today, March 14th from 3-4:30pm students, faculty, and staff at West Chester University will gather on the quad to Speak Out Against the Budget Cuts. See the facebook event announcement here.  Here is the event description:

On Tuesday March 8th PA Governor Corbett announced his new budget plans. In the new budget he plans to cut funding for higher education by 50%!

At West Chester University we have already seen an increase in tuition for the past three semesters. West Chester University has already made serious cuts to our education. For those of us who value our teachers and the affordability of our education this budget is a slap in the face. We have to take a stand together for the future of Pennsylvania. We cannot win the future if our public education system is continuing to take a shellacking by this Governor and by Governors around the country.

We need to take a stand against this attack on our future!

We are asking for students, faculty and other University workers to join together on the Quad at 3PM to speak out against these cuts and share your own stories of the effects that you have already experienced and will experience if this budget passes.

Please invite your fellow students and co-workers!

 

 

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Earlier this week, West Chester managers received a “Budget Prognosis” from Bob Scanlon, the Managers representative to their University Budget Committee.  As you can see in the memo, there are some assumptions being made about the budget over the next several years (e.g. 3% annual increase in tuition, no faculty raises in FY 2012, and increasing enrollments).  While we know that these are indeed assumptions that may change depending upon our current contract negotiations or a decline in enrollment at West Chester, there are a couple of interesting items to point out.

First, take a look at how West Chester President Weisenstein approaches projected shortfalls:

President Weisenstein is sending the message that this administration desires to avoid layoffs in FY2012. In the next 12 months we need to find $3.4 million of the $13.9 million shortfall.

Scanlon certainly does not present a pretty picture, but it is significant that Weisenstein is taking an explicit stance against layoffs as a strategy for addressing projected shortfalls.  The memo reinforces this strategy further on:

We cannot achieve all of this [projected shortfalls] by cost cutting alone.  The administration would love to achieve this with no cost cutting at all, if possible.

We are all in this together. Let’s think entrepreneurially.  Let’s think about brining money into the university from outside that is not now coming into the university.

Improving employee productivity has two sides to the equation: cost cutting per outcome, or raising revenue per outcome. If our measured outcome is graduated students, then let’s think. Let’s find smarter ways to work.  Let’s find new streams of revenue.

Now, if you look closely at the examples that Scanlon gives (see memo), there are plenty of issues to quarrel with–asking AFSCME for work-rule changes in negotiations, or increased emphasis on distance learning as a revenue generator, for example.  However, it is interesting to see a commitment by a university president to avoid layoffs and charging his managers to find new “streams of revenue.”

From the vantage point of Kutztown University, such a proactive approach by KU’s administration to projected budget shortfalls is virtually unthinkable. Readers of the XChange will recall that at our last Meet and Discuss we gave President Cevallos a little “homework” in hopes of nudging him toward forward-thinking and not his usual mode of persistent excuse-making.  We’ll see if the President does his homework, or if he will kick the can down the road.  My money’s on the latter.

In any case, I wanted to share the full WCU “Budget Prognosis” memo with XChange readers.  The more eyes on management’s plans, the better.

WCU Budget Prognosis Memo

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On Thursday, September 16th, the president of West Chester University, Greg Weisenstein, gave the annual President’s Welcome Address to faculty, staff, and students of WCU.  There must be some kind of digital initiative coming out of the Chancellor’s office, because like KU President Cevallos’s address, Weisenstein started the program with a video.  As reported in the WCU’s student newspaper, The Quad:

Prior to beginning the president’s address, a brief video was shown that encapsulated various aspects of WCU from both student and professor perspectives. This video was later revealed to be geared towards prospective students, that will be placed on the WCU website as a marketing tool.

But the similarities between the two presidents’ addresses basically end there. KU’s Cevallos focused a portion of his remarks on the university’s impending budget crisis:

we are preparing for several scenarios for 2011-12.  Based on various outcomes, we could be facing a shortfall of $5.6 million, down about $1 million from which we projected a year ago.  Or we could be facing the worst case scenario of an $11.4 million shortfall.

Again, any reduction strategies we implement for the years ahead will be carefully considered.  And we will continue to update the entire campus in detail and will work closely with key constituents as we move forward.

In classic form, Cevallos takes the human equation out of his remarks, referring to laying off people as part of his “reduction strategies,” while at the same time attempting to present himself as a benevolent ruler saying he will “work closely with key constituents” and that all “reduction strategies” will be “carefully considered.”  Yet, as I argued in my last post, the vast majority of the administration’s budget cuts have been made without any coherent plan of how to handle the collateral damage of those cuts.

By contrast, WCU’s Weisenstein presents a very different picture of the “challenges” facing WCU.  When it comes to the budget, Daily Local News reported that Weisenstein had this to say:

Weisenstein called the way state system of higher education schools are currently funded “unsustainable.” He noted that the state covered 60 percent of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education school budgets in 1990, 48 percent in 2000 and just 31 percent in 2010.

But he said he doesn’t believe the funding difficulties will affect the size of the university’s staff.

“Unlike many other PASSHE universities, we do not plan to lay off people,” Weisenstein said.

Notice the difference between Weisenstein’s statement and how KU’s Cevallos addresses financing from the state.  In Cevallos’s address, he says, “The E&G [Education and General] Budget projection for the current academic year indicated a gap of $4.2 million from expenses growing faster than revenue, due to flat state funding.”  Cevallos positions himself passively.  The message: because state funding was flat (blame the state) we have a $4.2 million budget gap.  Weisenstein, while acknowledging the same state budget info, responds differently:

Weisenstein said the university is pursuing grants and corporate partnerships that will allow it to improve its infrastructure and offer more graduate degree programs.

The president said the university intends to improve its online education programs, form new partnerships with schools in other countries, and put added emphasis pursuing outside grants to fund faculty research.

Now I am sure my colleagues from WCU would take issue with painting Weisenstein with too glowing colors here.  The point is not that Weisenstein is good and Cevallos is bad.  The point is that as an institution, West Chester has made different institutional choices than KU.  KU administration’s choices leave us laying off faculty and cutting programs despite rapid growth in enrollment (going from just over 8,000 students to over 10,000 since 2002), the lowest faculty cost in the State System, and several years of budget cuts and hiring freezes.

My point is that the dominant narrative that there is an economic crisis and that KU is the “victim” of forces out of its control is inadequate, if not dishonest, as an explanation as to why KU is in such dire straights.  We should take a lesson from the mortgage collapse and ask what policies and administrative decisions were made that contributed to the current crisis.  Frankly, faculty and staff are being forced to bail out this administration’s lack of vision, delayed decision-making, and neoliberal accounting practices reflecting the ideological bent of a few key players in KU’s Budget Office [some of those players are gone, but we live with the consequences of their actions]. Faculty and staff are being asked to work longer hours for free while their friends and colleagues are laid off.

And the administration has the nerve to say that some of its choices were made in order to continue to serve students effectively.  Really?  Larger classes with a faculty and staff stressed to the breaking point?  Really?  That’s the plan?  I find that line of argument so cynical and so disingenuous.  I’ve watched the stress build among my colleagues as their lives and their families lives hang in the balance, not knowing whether or not they will have a job next week or next year.  I’ve watched as staffing is cut to the bone and faculty and staff turn on each other in the midst of their rapidly rising stress levels.  And that’s your strategic plan?  The short answer is, yes.  That’s the administration’s strategic plan.

Yes, folks, it’s time to stop doing the laundry.

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