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August 30, 2012

Realignment results in UPT staff cuts

BRADFORD — The University’s Titusville campus is starting the academic year with a leaner staff, one effect of a cost-cutting realignment that shifted administrative oversight of the UPT campus to Pitt-Bradford.

UPB administrators announced that 12 regular and four part-time staff positions at UPT have been eliminated.

Five were vacated through the staff Voluntary Early Retirement Program (VERP) and two were unfilled positions, resulting in job losses for five regular staff members and four temporary part-time staffers, said UPB spokeswoman Pat Frantz Cercone. The reductions took effect Aug. 3 for three staffers; another will take effect Jan. 3, and the remaining five positions will be terminated at the end of the 2012-13 academic year. Cercone would not specify which positions or departments were affected.

UPB President Livingston Alexander has had oversight of the Titusville campus since May.

UPB President Livingston Alexander has had oversight of the Titusville campus since May.

The realignment, announced in May, moved UPT President William Shields to Pittsburgh as an associate vice provost and put David Fitz, UPT vice president for academic affairs, in charge of day-to-day campus operations as the interim campus dean, reporting to UPB President Livingston Alexander. (See May 17 University Times.)

Alexander would not quantify the savings attributable to the administrative realignment and subsequent staff cuts, but in an Aug. 22 press conference, he said, “The University has been subsidizing operations at Pitt-Titusville for quite some time at a significant level. It simply cannot afford to continue doing that. An important part of defining viability will be to get enrollments up.”

Full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment at UPT has been declining since 2007, falling from a peak of 501.6 to 410.8 in fall 2011, according to Pitt Fact Book figures.

This fall’s enrollment figures are “not good,” Alexander said. “We only started working with the campus,” he said, adding that the administration is looking ahead to next fall. “That’s where much of the focus is: bringing in a strong class in fall 2013.”

Alexander added: “The most important way to measure success is in terms of our success in recruiting students and retaining students and, in the eyes of the University generating, through enrollment, revenues consistent with expenditures.”

In a separate interview, Fitz expressed optimism about UPT’s trajectory after the realignment and the staff reductions. He acknowledged: “We had some tough times this summer. All the University suffered under budget cuts — our campus was more directly hit in a negative way. We’ve moved through that.”

Fitz said the UPT campus has taken on a “roll up the sleeves and get it done” attitude. “We know what numbers we need to have for enrollment. We know we need to build programs. That’s where we’re going now,” he said. “The outlook is we are going to make the changes that need to be made to provide students with the quality education they expect.”

Fitz said there has been a “very supportive, very collaborative attitude from Bradford” since the restructuring was announced.

“We are still moving more in alignment with Bradford in cooperative ways,” Fitz told the University Times. “It can only improve our situation and only improve theirs.”

He said part of the changes would include new recruiting strategies in geographic areas that have yielded students in the past as part of the goal to reach FTE enrollment of 410. And, while the two campuses already share some joint academic programs, Fitz said he anticipates adding more “2+2” programs such as the BS in business management and BA in human relations in which students at UPT — Pitt’s only two-year campus — can remain there while completing a bachelor’s degree awarded by UPB.

While no timetable has been set, Alexander said some of UPB’s petroleum technology programming eventually could be offered in Titusville. He noted that UPB is planning to offer its first petroleum technology course in St. Marys, adding that demand for graduates of the growing program is high.

Alexander said, “Everyone’s committed to doing everything possible to strengthen and improve Pitt-Titusville and make sure it is viable and continues to offer programs there. The campus is so important to the community.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 45 Issue 1

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