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Reactions Vary to CU Workforce Plan

Monday, August 26, 2013 @ 12:08 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

CLARION, Pa. – Reaction to the Clarion University Workforce Plan is varied, with some people recognizing the need for cutting back and others feeling there are better ways to save money and attract students.

BlackTeePennsylvania APSCUF has asked faculty at all 14 PASSHE universities to wear black for first week of school in solidarity with Clarion.

“We had overwhelming support for faculty across the state,” said Elizabeth MacDaniel, president of Clarion-APSCUF.  “I don’t know if it’s going to be 100 percent, but there’s going to be a large number of faculty members in all 14 universities and the state APSCUF headquarter in Harrisburg wearing black when classes start Monday.”

There have been individual messages to President Karen Whiney and extensive use of Social Media.  Here is a sampling of excerpts.

MoveOn Petition

            A petition started last Friday on MoveOn.com to demand the reinstatement of music education, German, and French programs has nearly 2,200 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.

Jed MillardThe petition was started by Jed Millard, a 2007 Clarion graduate with a business undergraduate degree and majors in international business and business economics and a German minor.  He later earned an MBA at Clarion in May 2007.

“My primary outrage is directed toward the cuts to the modern languages department,” said Millard.  “The German and French programs serve a much higher purpose than straightforward language instruction. My experience as a German minor provided me not only with German language skills, but I learned so much more about professionalism, leadership, world culture, and how to be a more compassionate, global citizen. Drs. Eleanor ter Horst and Elisabeth Donato are two of Clarion University’s most well-respected and effective educators.

“I am dismayed by the lack of respect for the humanities from Clarion University administration and trends nationwide. Shortly after I graduated high school, my school’s German program was cut, as many high school language programs have been over the last ten years. This is only more reason to support these programs at the collegiate level. At Clarion, cutting the German and French programs leaves no option for those students who must complete a four-year language requirement.”


1229906_466311283466972_273002394_nOver 2,000 “like” the Save the Clarion University Department of Music Facebook page.

“The page was created to join music education and music business students past and present, and all who participated in performing organizations at Clarion University, so together, we can unite to Save the Department of Music.”

Faculty have also published a website “The Faces of Retrenchment, Clarion University” at  www.facebook.com/facesofretrenchment featuring photos and background of faculty members awaiting retrenchment.

Important Clarion Remains Viable

Jamie Lefever“As the lead economic development agency in Clarion County, it is important that Clarion University remains a viable employer in the Region,” said Jamie LeFever, executive director of the Clarion County Economic Development Corporation (CCED).  The recent workforce plan released by Clarion University I would hope to be a matter of sustainability for a long future in Clarion County.  The university is a long time supporter of CCEC, and we will continue to support the efforts of Clarion University as they work through this difficult time.”

Disposable Human Capital?

Elisabeth DonatoElisabeth Donato, the French professor facing retrenchment, included some of these remarks in a letter to President Whitney.

“The Administration’s decision to do away entirely with French and German was not made at all in consultation with the Language Department. The first I saw it was at the meeting last Thursday afternoon at which President Whitney presented her plan.

“She also did not consult at all the Language Department about introducing Chinese. In fact, our department tried to offer an online Chinese class this summer, no one signed up for it.”

“The past two years have been hell for most Clarion University employees, including myself. My days at Clarion University have been joyless (except when in the classroom or engaging with my students), due to the fact that I had to function in a climate of fear and incertitude about my future.”

“You may retort that this budget crisis is an abscess that must be excised, and that, as any surgery is, it will be very painful. But let me remind you that the people whom you plan on retrenching/furloughing are very valuable employees who will be stripped of their livelihood, and most will have their retirement income greatly compromised. Keep in mind that it is ruthless to consider them and treat them as mere disposable ‘human capital.’ The great majority of those people will have to relocate and sell their Clarion homes, which they will find exceedingly difficult to do. Those people also contribute actively to the economy of an already depressed community, which will be further damaged by their departure.”

A Solid Plan and I support It

Darren Young Student Darren Young, Political Science and Business Economics major I from Millerstown, PA. (“Disclosure: I serve as the Student Trustee at Clarion University. This article is in no way an official voice for the University. It is just a student’s perspective on this plan.”)

“This past Friday, just like other Clarion University students who logged onto social media, I saw the headline ‘Clarion U. to dissolve college of education’ and just like those students I was worried. It wasn’t until later that morning, when I was able to read the workforce plan that my concerns were eased and I felt better about the direction in which University was headed.”

“The magnitude of the problems that are facing Clarion showed up on the first page of the proposed plan. We are looking at a projected $12 million structural deficit by July of 2015. A deficit like this means that there are going to be major changes no matter what University you attend.”

“It is reassuring to know that the current administration at Clarion is looking at the future of the University. This is a bold plan, but I would much rather see us go through a year of hardship than ‘kicking the can down the road’ and have to go through this every year or so.”

“This plan proposes the elimination of positions ranging from faculty to managers to staff. No rock was left unturned when university executives were looking at ways to cut back and save money. It has also called for the elimination of three degree programs, which are Music Education, German, and French. The elimination of these programs will affect 40 some students. The loss of jobs and programs is always difficult but there are times when action is required. This is one of those times. Another item that gets overlooked is the hiring of eight new faculty members in academic areas where there is demand.”

“Overall, I feel this is a solid plan and I support it.”

Jeanne Slattery, the Psychology Professor Likely Facing Retrenchment

Jean Slattery“I have been talking with faculty threatened with retrenchment. They are concerned about the future of their programs, worried about their students and colleagues and, of course, struggling with feelings that their work is not valued. It’s hard to watch such passionate and hard-working people feeling personally attacked and devalued. These are people who have active and productive careers, who are always among the regulars when I show up to meetings, who are consistently going the extra mile for their students.  It is also hard to see people who have worked their entire careers at Clarion—some as long as 23 years—suddenly facing the need to figure out a different future. One young faculty member who grew up in the area recently bought her grandmother’s home and is afraid that she’ll lose it.”

Although there are no names listed for the position to be eliminated in Psychology, she is expected to be the one because she is on the bottom rung of the ladder in her department.

“I’ve been here a long time and this has been a really nice place to work,” she said. “We’ve had really good morale, even in really hard times.”

Alumnus Jonathan Mracko, BSEd, Music Education, 2011

Jonathan Mracko “I am saddened greatly by the decisions of the University to decide to eliminate the music program. I received a great education from Clarion University, both musically and academically. I would not be the person I am today if not for the faculty who supported me fully. They never gave up on me. They always pushed me. They always made sure I realized the talents I always knew I had. Since graduation I’ve received numerous jobs in my field of Music Education, accolades, awards, and recommendations because of my education that I received from Clarion University.”

“I have donated multiple times since my graduation in fall of 2011. My parents have donated countless times since I began in fall of 2006. My parents have no ties to the University, outside of my brief time in attendance. They have no reason to give, yet, they always do. However, as it appears, it looks like that won’t be happening in the near future.”

Alumna Jena Lendon

Jena Leddon“As a 2012 graduate of the Rehabilitative Science program with minors in Women and Gender and Psychology, I’m very disappointed by this. Rehab was – is – a growing program at Clarion. To say that it’s okay to move it into a different college and say that it will have the same worth and credibility is absurd. I am very hurt that the College of Education and Human Services is being dissolved.   Within two weeks or so of graduating, I had full time employment, and I was accepted to a MSW program in Colorado. I found full-time work in Colorado in my field, and I couldn’t love it more. I also couldn’t help but brag about the WONDERFUL education that I received at Clarion University. Please don’t take that away from those who are still in the Rehab program. They deserve the same quality program that I had, if not a better program. I understand that Tom Corbett is not pulling his weight in the Governor’s chair when it comes to higher education funding, and I understand that PASSHE funding is going through very difficult circumstances… but the students – the very people whose money is the backbone of Clarion University – deserve the very best.”


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