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Two-year timeline is unnecessary

MARK CLOUD

Woolrich

Lock Haven University is facing a crisis that has the potential to upend countless lives and the Lock Haven community at large.

Due to recent enrollment declines, we must realize significant efficiencies. Fortunately, LHU has the highest proportion of financial reserves in the State System.

In January, President Robert Pignatello demonstrated positive leadership in creating a responsible five-year plan to put us on a more secure footing. In early spring, we had evidence that the plan was delivering very positive results. Two events changed the plan.

The first was the pandemic. Coping has been tough, but we have managed that challenge better than most universities, even having an increase in enrollment this fall.

In May, the second more consequential event was the State System Chancellor’s mandate that all universities must reach even more stringent financial goals and ratios in just two years instead of five. Ratios that include increasing our average class size to above that of Penn State and having 30% more students per faculty member than Penn State.

Regrettably, to meet the Chancellor’s mandate, LHU has submitted a plan that proposes to lay off 20% of the workforce in just two years (100 employees), 47 of whom are faculty.

Let’s first reflect on the impact of such an action on the loss of 100 individuals’ livelihoods, their families, and the reverberating effects on our local businesses and community services.

Gutting the institution so quickly is very likely going to have very negative effects on student recruitment, the learning experience, and the range of opportunities for our students.

Our current strength of providing a college experience where faculty and staff know your name and give the individual attention students often need to thrive will be severely diminished.

I ask students, alumni, and friends of LHU to send an email to Chancellor Greenstein (dgreenstein@passhe.edu).

Please request that the Chancellor provide each President with the independence and authority needed to lead a path tailored to local conditions, a path toward financial sustainability without a shortened timeline and ratio targets that destroy our core strengths.

(Dr. Mark Cloud is a professor of psychology at Lock Haven University.)

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