ReImagine More Work Part II: Un/Officially Proceeding with Program Reduction

October 04, 2021 / PSU-AAUP

Welcome back to more work, Part II—“voluntary” work this time! The pressure of campus return, the anxiety about the virus, the concern for loved ones, the struggle to remain remote, the uncertainty of the new university reality—these are things everyone at PSU feels to varying degrees. Everyone’s workload is higher than normal right now, including that of PSU Administration.

One might think that such a situation would cause PSU to push pause on its plans to engage in university program overhaul. In fact, we are happy to report, in a small way this is true—the deadline for ReImagine PSU proposals (up to $25,000 per project, likely drawn from OAA and/or Provost’s discretionary budget which could have gone to other projects) has been pushed back a month to mid-October. The original deadline was set while 9-month employees were off contract. Although PSU did not acknowledge that they had violated our bargained agreement to defer “significant new projects such as program redesign” during the pandemic, this delay was, in part, one remedy we requested in our Association Grievance filed in May ’21. We asked for a delay on all restructuring-related activities and the extension of this deadline is good, if insufficient. 

But this small grant program is not all there is to the Provost’s Program Reduction Efforts. If you recall from last year, two committees began building the foundations for a significant overhaul of PSU’s structure: the Provosts’ Program Reduction Working Group and Faculty Senate’s Academic Program Reduction and Curricular Adjustments Ad Hoc Committee. This fall, several PSU-AAUP  member leaders have already attended faculty meetings where chairs/directors have begun proposing departmental mergers after feeling the pressure around program restructuring. At these meetings, faculty considered vague promises about program coherence and gaining future hires, promises which are largely unenforceable. 

Throughout the fall, please let us know how things are going in your departments. What are you hearing about potential mergers and reductions? Are faculty being appropriately involved in these decisions? Please remember that you have the right to push back collectively and resist this enforced austerity agenda. You also have the right to apply for ReImagine money in ways that expand employment and services at PSU, not reduce them.

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