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ESU faculty warned of potential layoffs

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By Pocono Record, Stroudsburg
Saturday, May 18, 2013, 5:57 p.m.

East Stroudsburg University's union faculty members were notified last week of potential layoffs in the 2013-14 academic year.

ESU's faculty union learned of the possibility during a “meet and discuss” meeting on Tuesday, according to a memo sent to the faculty by ESU's Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties President Nancy Van Arsdale.

“Such a letter does not mean that retrenchment will definitely happen, but represents a very serious concern for all of us,” stated the memo, which was sent on Wednesday.

ESU spokeswoman Brenda Friday said the letter does not necessarily mean there will be layoffs but noted that the administration has the authority to lay off tenured faculty in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement.

“Like many other institutions of higher education, East Stroudsburg University is encountering financial challenges,” Friday said. “The escalating costs of providing a high-quality, four-year public education is requiring the university to investigate all options to reduce costs without compromising the academic integrity of the ESU experience for our students. As we prepare for the 2013-2014 budget cycle, the university will continue to grapple with alternative solutions to reduce our operating expenses.”

According to the memo, the last time ESU's faculty union received such a letter was about three years ago, before three faculty members were laid off.

That same year, faculty at several other Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities were affected, some of them losing their positions entirely, in several instances after careers of 20-plus years, the memo said.

According to Pocono Record archives, in December 2010, athletic trainers Wendy Dietrich, Colleen Shotwell and John Paolini received notices that their positions would be eliminated.

Dietrich and Shotwell had received the notices just one week after using an automated external defibrillator and CPR to save the life of a student whose heart suddenly stopped beating while he was playing basketball.

The ESU faculty members who were retrenched had the opportunity to reapply for nine- or 10-month positions at a “very significant reduction” to their salaries, stated Wednesday's memo.

To date, no specific retrenchment notices have been received, it said.

Van Arsdale did not return calls for comment on Thursday.

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