Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Calu Faculty Says Cuts Hurt Academic Quality

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Calu Faculty Says Cuts Hurt Academic Quality

Article excerpt

In a further sign of financial stress at California University of Pennsylvania, a group representing academic department chairs has written to State System of Higher Education leaders saying funding cuts are seriously eroding academic quality.

The letter written by the group's leader and an accompanying report outline impacts in departments from chemistry and English to the campus library and were sent amid rising concerns about campus debt and spending decisions.

The complaints include claims of bulging class sizes, of difficulty purchasing items as basic as toner cartridges or chemicals for lab instruction, and of students who are stuck without courses they need.

The letter says temporary faculty now covers 40 percent of the courses, or more, in some areas and that the number of credit hours a year generated on average by CalU faculty, 758, is highest of the 14 State System universities, more than 100 hours ahead of the next closest campus.

"The persistent prioritization of instructional productivity and athletics over academic quality and program integrity has taken a toll on academic and student support services," Thomas Wickham, chair of the 29-member Chairs' Forum, wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained Friday by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"This raises questions about the resulting caliber of the education product students are purchasing," he said.

The letter dated Thursday and the report were sent to Guido Pichini, chair of the State System's board of governors, State System Chancellor John Cavanaugh and Robert Irey, chair of CalU's council of trustees. "We've seen the letter, but we're not responding to it at this point," State System spokesman Kenn Marshall said.

CalU president Angelo Armenti Jr. was copied in on the letter.

Mr. Armenti was not available for comment Friday. However, in a written response to the letter dated Thursday and confirmed by the university Friday, he said faculty who are unhappy can seek relief through campus governance channels and that his administration adheres to the faculty union contract in areas including use of temporary faculty, which he said is at levels below the campuswide limit. …

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