Future integrated universities facing heavy faculty cutbacks

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been edited to clarify the relationship between staff cutbacks and the planning of the university merger.


Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield are working through avenues towards future integration. PHOTO: tiogoapublishing.com

Matthew Poust, Reporter

Pennsylvania state system universities Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield face mandatory faculty and staff cutbacks at the same time as their planned future integration plans begin to unfold.

When the integration plan was established in September of 2020, it was noted that an unspecified amount of faculty/staff positions would be lost to meet the proposed integration standards. With minimal information provided on the proposed cutbacks and a plethora of unanswered questions, faculty and staff of the three universities were left worried and wondering. It’s important to note, even though there’s a timely overlap between the faculty cuts and further developments on the integration plans, there isn’t a direct connection between the two.

Fast forward seven months, and these faculty and staff members’ inquiries are finally getting answers. APSCUF Presidents from Bloomsburg and Lock Haven spoke in emails this past week concerning cutback specifics.

Bloomsburg APSCUF President Erick Hawrelak provided information on BU’s current state with cutbacks saying,

“Here at Bloomsburg, there are currently no plans to cut any permanent tenure track or tenured facility.”
This elimination process is known as retrenchment and is initiated by a “retrenchment letter” being given to the faculty union.

“I have been told several times by Provost Rogers-Adkinson that there is no plan to issue a retrenchment letter to APSCUF here at BU,” stated Hawrelak.

Bloomsburg’s most extensive faculty loss is coming by way of attrition. The process of attrition occurs when a retiring faculty member is not replaced with another tenure-track faculty member. Hawrelak also mentioned that there had been a steady reduction of temporary faculty positions to help lessen the possibility of retrenchment letters.

“Student enrollment is the primary factor in deciding how many faculty members are ultimately needed to teach the courses offered. An increase in enrollment could result in the hiring of more faculty, while a decrease in enrollment could change the conversation about retrenchment,” explained Hawrelak.

Although it appears that Bloomsburg has some grasp on these cutbacks, fellow university Lock Haven doesn’t seem to be as fortunate.

LHU APSCUF President Peter Campbell stated in an email, Lock Haven expects to reduce its faculty by 67 total positions between 2020-2022, nearly 30 percent of their entire faculty. Campbell explained that this is based on the Chancellor’s office’s financial stability plans to meet the 2010-2011 student-faculty ratio of 19.2 students to 1 faculty member.

“In the 150-year existence of LHU, we have been in this range for a total of three years; this ratio is unrealistic”, stated Campbell.

Campbell also mentioned the plan to outsource over fifty staff positions at LHU, saying that this plan is detrimental to the quality of the students’ educational experience.

Both Hawrelak and Campbell also discussed some of the difficulties they have been having with the state system governing board during these uncertain times. Hawrelak mentioned that there are still several faculty questions about the process not being answered clearly. Chancellor Greenstein talks about having a plan. Still, that plan is not being shared readily. Campbell expressed his frustrations with the Chancellor’s board explaining,
“With Lock Haven bringing 53 million dollars in reserve to the table, the amount of cutbacks projected to take place within this two-year time period seem unnecessary.”

APSCUF President Brian Loher was contacted for an interview, but no response was given. However, LHU’s Peter Campbell stated in his response that Mansfield was in a very similar boat as Lock Haven.

Updates on these projected faculty/staff cutbacks will be given as things progress.