the Ship community:
the end of the recent break, members of the Shippensburg University community
are looking forward to what I expect will be another great semester. During the
coming months, we have started work on three new residence halls, are looking
at new academic programs, and will continue our outreach efforts in support of
the region. Unfortunately, one other item
might be on students’ minds: whether their professors will be there to greet
Understandably, the status of negotiations between
the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association
of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) has drawn
increased attention from students and their families. First and foremost,
students should know that we have a plan in place should a faculty strike
occur. For the latest information on the
status of negotiations, students should visit www.passhe.edu.
Students and their families should also know that PASSHE is
committed to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement with APSCUF that
is fair, that is affordable and that positions the State System to continue to
provide an affordable, quality education for years to come. PASSHE leadership
has made it clear throughout these negotiations that its number one focus is
representing the interests of students and their families who provide nearly
three-fourths of the revenue needed to operate the universities.
PASSHE has put a very reasonable compensation package for faculty
on the table while also making it clear that it needs savings to offset the
increased costs to the universities and, ultimately, to our students and their
families. Two major cost drivers for our universities are the health care
benefits we provide to both active and retired employees. If these aren’t
addressed, these costs threaten to overwhelm the system and take away resources
that could otherwise be used to improve and modernize our educational offerings
to ensure students succeed.
PASSHE has offered a number of health care plan options with
the goal of more closely aligning the system with the same health care plan
that the Commonwealth’s 80,000 employees – including the Governor and his
cabinet – all have. The changes could result in lower premiums while ensuring
that all PASSHE employees receive benefits comparable to those received by
other state employees.
For future, not current, employees, PASSHE has proposed to
offer an optional health care account similar to the current option available for
a retirement account. The change, which would begin to address a more than $1.4
billion outstanding financial obligation in this area, would apply only to
employees hired after July 1, 2013.
The bottom line is that PASSHE and APSCUF must resolve these
issues quickly and fairly so that we can get back to focusing on how best to
continuously enhance the quality of our academic programs as well as the
educational experience of our students. There are far more important things for
our students to be focused on this semester.
William N. Ruud, Ph.D.
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257