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Layoffs possible at 5 state system schools, including Edinboro, Clarion

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 11:00 p.m.

Faculty layoffs are possible at five state universities as part of reorganization or closure of programs, state system officials said on Wednesday.

Edinboro, Mansfield, Cheyney and East Stroudsburg universities sent written notification to faculty union leaders of possible layoffs, said Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education officials.

Clarion University will continue with a two-year workforce plan it began last fall, which specified a number of layoffs and reassignments, and restructured academic programs, said university spokesman David Love.

The notification is part of the state system's effort to better align degree programs with changing demands of its 112,000 students, said Chancellor Frank Brogan in a statement.

“To be clear, this kind of program alignment is not solely a response to declining resources; it is an essential action taken to ensure that each university and the entire state system remain current in addressing the needs of students and their place in our global society and marketplace,” Brogan said.

Jeff Hileman, spokesman at Edinboro, said the university sent notification letters for the past few years to keep the option for retrenchment open, but the university worked with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties to avoid layoffs.

“It's unfortunate that we have to issue such a letter,” Hileman said. “We're going to be doing everything we can to avoid retrenchment.”

The union contract requires universities to notify it by Aug. 1 about possible retrenchment of positions that might occur at the end of the 2014-15 school year. The decision to eliminate positions next year could be made as early as October.

Union leaders at Edinboro and Clarion could not be reached for comment.

Karen Whitney, president of Clarion University, said in a statement that two faculty positions in the psychology department could be eliminated. They were identified in last fall's workforce plan.

“Even though we are issuing this notice, we hope to find a resolution that would avoid retrenchments through the processes outlined in the collective bargaining agreement,” Whitney said.

Rachel Farkas is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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