According to an article published Monday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, five of the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) may explore the possibility of laying off faculty members following the conclusion of the upcoming academic year.
The five universities in question include California University (Pa.), Mansfield, Clarion, Edinboro and Cheyney. The possibility of these layoffs will also come along after different educational departments shift around the way that they are structured, possibly leaving faculty members playing musical chairs with departments and roles. Despite announcing that these layoffs are possible, PASSHE wants it to be made clear that there is not decided or certain that layoffs may occur following the 2018 spring semester.
Although Slippery Rock was not listed as one of the five schools that may have to lay off its faculty, it is important to note that these other universities will likely go after programs that bring in the smallest amount of revenue, unfortunately meaning that programs on these campuses that are involved in the arts could be on the chopping block.
While possible layoffs and the cutting of programs is something that no one wants to happen, it is a reality that some PASSHE schools may soon have to face. The fact of the matter is that there are only two schools in the PASSHE system (Slippery Rock and West Chester) that have not had their enrollment numbers go down.
If having as many as 14 schools of relatively the same size all within the Pennsylvania state system proves to no longer be economically feasible, PASSHE schools may soon be facing far worse things than just retrenchment.
For now all universities can do is sit and wait until the state system decides what their fates will be. Until those decisions are made there is not much anyone can do. Schools cannot just keep losing enrollment numbers without something be\ing done, and the state has now decided that it is going to do something.
For students at Slippery Rock, we can take some pride in the fact that our school has been able to withstand the state-wide drop in enrollment which, for now, looks like it will keep SRU out of any talks of layoffs or department closures.