Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Penn State faculty want more answers on university's buyout and reorganization plans

A side angle of Penn State's Old Main building on its University Park campus.
Sydney Roach
A side angle of Penn State's Old Main building on its University Park campus.

Penn State has been offering more information about its employee buyout and campus reorganization plans, but many faculty still have questions and concerns, which they directed at university administrators during a Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday.

Allen Larson, a Faculty Senator from New Kensington, said that Penn State campus is seeing a large departure of staff.

“One of the things that’s been most heartbreaking about watching that happen is seeing people leave simply because they are afraid that that is their only choice," Larson said. "That no one can tell them they’ll have a job in six months. Even though they probably would still have a job in six months.”

Qualified full-time faculty and staff at the Commonwealth Campuses were given the chance to opt in to the university’s voluntary separation plan. But, according to information the university provided, involuntary layoffs could still happen.

The buyouts were not offered to teaching faculty who have contracts the university renews, typically every year. Larson asked how the university could do better with those faculty.

“How are we not going to tell those people: ‘You’re just going to have to wait until February to find out if we’re going to give you another contract or keep we’re going to keep you employed to finish out the career that you have worked in the last 17 or 18 years here at Penn State.”

Of eligible staff and faculty, 383 took the voluntary buyout, according to the university, and the chancellors of seven campuses either opted into the buyout or are leaving for other reasons.

Agnès Kim, from Penn State Scranton, asked about how the impact of departing chancellors will be handled.

“Do we have somebody local to each campus who knows how operations were going, who knows who has left and can communicate to this restructuring team, to say, ‘Guys, this needs to happen at Scranton, otherwise we’re going to be in trouble in terms of operations,'" she said.

The special meeting included an overview of the plans by interim Provost Tracy Langkilde, who fielded questions with Rick Brazier, interim dean for the University College, which is made of up 14 of Penn State's commonwealth campuses.

Brazier said they are monitoring the impact the buyouts are having on fall 2024 classes. He said the course loads of faculty who took buyouts represent about 3% of courses offered at the Commonwealth Campuses. He said they're addressing that by deciding whether the course needs to be offered, extending the separation dates of faculty when needed and looking at other options, such as digital learning.

“We don’t expect to see the students impacted in their ability to move forward in their degree programs with this current slate of volunteer separations," he said.

The Faculty Senate passed a motion calling on the president to involve faculty in the decision-making of the consideration of any future voluntary buyout programs.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.