EAST STROUDSBURG — East Stroudsburg University is closing a department, ending degrees in other studies, and cutting faculty in majors that ESU is known for, including education. The school in the Poconos says it had no other choice because of a nearly $7 million budget deficit.
A few hours ago, administrators at East Stroudsburg University announced their plan to reduce the deficit, a deficit that’s been adding up over a few years.
The plan lays off six faculty members, closes one department, and removes two degree programs.
ESU administrators say they had no choice.
Faculty members say administrators haven’t been cooperative.
“I’m offended by people who think what we are doing is easy for us. It has been incredibly difficult,” East Stroudsburg University President Dr. Marcia Welsh said about plans to reduce the school’s budget deficit.
She said the deficit is caused by a drop in enrollment and lack of state funding.
The administration’s solution is to lay off faculty and end degree programs.
“We weren’t doing it easily, we aren’t taking it lightly.”
In an afternoon news conference, administrators announced one of their plans in detail about how to reduce the $7million deficit.
15 faculty members are being impacted. Seven faculty members have been relocated to different departments at ESU. Six faculty members are being laid off. Two contracts are not being renewed at the end of the year.
The faculty union representative says the administration has not been cooperative.
“There was no discussion with the union whatsoever. In fact, the administration walked out of a meeting with the union before we got to ask budget questions,” said ESU faculty union representative Ken Mash.
As for departments and degree programs that will be affected, The department of Movement Activities and Lifetime Fitness is closing at the end of this year. Degrees in Music and French will no longer be offered.
Students majoring in those degrees will finish the program, but no new students will be accepted.
Unionized faculty members don’t agree.
“If we listen to what employers say, they want students who are well rounded and have many opportunities with many different backgrounds. That’s what this university offers now, that made us a great university and (we) want to keep being a great university,” Mash said.
The union is urging faculty and students to reach out to legislators.
ESU administrators will be talking to faculty about how to streamline programs and possibly ease the financial crunch.
Early admissions to ESU are not being affected.