NEWSLETTER, PSU-AAUP, HIGHER ED FACULTY

Provost’s “program reduction” proposal: How did we get here?

March 01, 2022 / PSU-AAUP

The Provost "program reduction" announcement last month came as a shock to many. Frankly, it's puzzling how we've come to this point. PSU's own budgetary report shows that we ended the 2020-21 fiscal year with a $32 million surplus and increased our reserves by more than $35 million. How is it that we are now talking about a desperate need for program cuts? Let alone cuts that would undermine key areas of our academic mission, which would negatively impact our students and our communities?

In addition to questions about why this is needed from a budgetary perspective, the manner in which these 18 programs were chosen seems illogical. At minimum, it's incoherent. How so?

  • None of the Driver Metrics have been related to specific goals and objectives; therefore, none are determinative as key performance indicators.
  • How are these Driver metrics considered relevant for a public, state-funded university? There doesn't seem to be a valid connection.
  • Not all the Driver Metrics are comparable across departments/programs, e.g., Total SCH.
  • Some Driver Metrics are inherently biased. For example, Total SCH and Base Net Revenue.
  • The 3-Year Average Enrollment Growth Rate metric is distorted by the inclusion of pandemic year data and is therefore meaningless.
  • Average growth rate is a misleading indicator of growth.
  • These metrics often ignore realities on the ground which cannot be captured by quantitative data.

Faculty and staff are already overburdened. We cannot allow “reorganization” to put us in a worse position than we already are, further impeding our ability to serve our communities and students. 

The Faculty Senate’s Ad-Hoc Committee in Academic Program Reduction and Curricular Adjustments (APRCA) noted, “Distrust between the administration and the faculty, coupled with no pressing need at the time for program elimination, derailed [such a] process [in 2020].”

It's deja vu all over again.

We are confident the Faculty Senate will be looking carefully at all of these issues. We urge AAUP members in every program and academic unit to communicate their concerns to their faculty senators now.

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