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Oct 10, 2014 03:57 AM EDT

Mansfield to Suspend Degree Programs and Faculty in Restructuring Initiative

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Mansfield University will freeze several academic programs and let go 12 faculty members due to financial constraints like enrolment declines and reduced state aid. The move will take effect with the commencement of the 2015-16 academic year.

The academic programs include business program, the education and special education programs (except music education), and the school library and information technologies online master's program. Meanwhile, the affected faculty belong to the retrenchment programs as well as in sociology and anthropology that were suspended last year.

University President Fran Hendricks said that the decision was not taken solely based on financial issues. Hendricks said that the State System universities frequently assess their offerings - whether to expand, curtail or duplicate the programs based on enrolment.

"These are decisions taken with a great deal of study, reflection and understanding of the impact they have on people's lives," Hendricks said in a statement. "Our colleagues affected are all valuable to the University, but we also have an obligation to INVEST in employees, programs and infrastructure that will move Mansfield forward."

Affected faculty members will be allowed to apply to other State System universities through preferential hiring or recall hiring. Provost David Stinebeck said that majority of the students will be taught-out to graduation in the coming academic year, while others will be moved to other majors at Mansfield University or transferred to other State System universities.

The decision to shelve certain programs was not welcomed by the head of the faculty union, who described it as "a sad day for public higher education".

Kenneth Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, said that such actions will prove detrimental to the students.

"A university does not get better by hurting its current and future students; doing so only creates a downward spiral," Mash said. "No university has ever increased enrollment by announcing to prospective students that their desired majors might soon disappear. Rather than creating new buzzwords and rationalizations for the irrational, (State System) and university officials must be true advocates for public higher education," Post-Gazette reports.

Besides Mansfield, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg and Edinboro universities are also following suit with the professor layoffs.

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