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Union Survey Slams Pennsylvania University Merger Plans

April 8, 2021

The union representing faculty members and coaches across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, yesterday released a survey of its members finding little buy-in to plans to merge operations at several institutions.

“APSCUF’s survey results show a disconnect between the narratives that exist and are being pushed in many venues by the State System regarding the views of faculty,” wrote the union’s president, Jamie Martin, about the survey results. “It would behoove the State System, including the chancellor and the Board of Governors, to listen to the concerns expressed by our faculty and to take them to heart. The support, involvement and investment of faculty in a consolidation is integral. Unfortunately, there is little faculty buy-in to the current plan.”

Almost 1,000 of the union’s 5,000 members responded to the survey. The union sent the survey to just under 1,500 faculty members at six institutions slated to be involved in the mergers. (This paragraph has been updated to include new information on which union members were surveyed.)

Under 8 percent said they supported consolidation plans, and only 7 percent thought the process was transparent, according to a summary of findings.

The faculty union has been on the offensive of late. Last month, it labeled a statement from the system’s chancellor, Daniel Greenstein, “reckless and irresponsible.” Greenstein had told lawmakers he would next year recommend they dissolve the 14-university system if it is not able to be reorganized.

Greenstein has pushed changes to the state system amid financial challenges and enrollment declines. Specific plans have evolved over time, with current plans calling for combining California, Clarion and Edinboro Universities into one institution and Lock Haven, Mansfield and Bloomsburg Universities into another institution. Each consolidated institution would continue to have three campuses, with savings and service improvements projected because of unified administrations and other shared services.

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Rick Seltzer

Rick Seltzer, Projects Editor, oversaw special projects and coordinated daily production for Inside Higher Ed from 2019 through May 2021. He joined the publication in 2016, covering finance and management. Previously, he worked as a reporter for The Baltimore Business Journal, The Bloomington Herald-Times, the Central New York Business Journal and The Harrisburg Patriot-News. He has covered numerous business, municipal, government and general assignment beats. Rick graduated from Syracuse University in 2008.

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