By DONOVAN HARRELL
Pitt–Titusville will face faculty and staff reductions by 2020, the University Senate Budget Policies Committee was told on Nov. 16.
Stephen Wisniewski, vice provost for Data and Information, said in a presentation to the committee that these cutbacks come after the Board of Trustees approved a new “collaborative model” for Pitt–Titusville in March.
Pitt–Titusville has been facing a decline in enrollment, which Wisniewski attributed to changing demographics in Western Pennsylvania and rural communities in general.
To make up for this, Wisniewski said, multiple solutions were considered, including closing the campus or “riding it out” by continuing to operate the campus normally and attempting to recruit more students. However, the latter could’ve been costly as Pitt-Titusville’s infrastructure would have needed improvements
In the end, Pitt administrators settled on a different solution: combine Pitt–Titusville with Pitt–Bradford, and partner with other local organizations, including a community college and trade school, Wisniewski said. The partnerships and programs to be offered are still being finalized.
Former Provost Patricia Beeson championed this solution, Wisniewski said. She, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, interim Pitt–Bradford and Pitt–Titusville President Lawrence Feick and others in the provost’s office worked with the Titusville community, faculty, staff, students and government officials to develop the plan.
“Nobody really wanted to close the place,” Wisniewski said. “And it’s something that the area definitely needs.”
However, this solution comes with an “impact,” Wisniewski said. Staff and faculty at Pitt-Titusville will be reduced by the time the transition is scheduled to finish in 2020.
It’s too early to say how many of Pitt–Titusville’s 65 employees — 24 full-time faculty, 10 part-time faculty and 31 staff — will be cut, Wisniewski said in response to a committee member’s question. Of those full-time faculty, five are tenured.
Senate Council President Chris Bonneau told Faculty Assembly at its Nov. 27 meeting that Larry Feick, interim president at the Bradford and Titusville campuses, had met with faculty and staff to “let them know their options, severance, if applicable, and future benefits. This was done to get faculty and staff as much time as possible for plan even though the changes will not take effect until the fall semester 2020.”
All the tenured faculty have the opportunity to stay with the University, if they want, Bonneau said. “For the full-time NTS faculty, some will be staying and others may be moving to other campuses, if there's a need and mutual interests.”
Other will be given severance, he said, although it’s not clear yet what those severance packages will include.
“While this is a difficult situation for the faculty and staff, I appreciate the administration giving those affected by the changes significant lead time to decide on their future plans.”
Former University Senate President Frank Wilson said the option of moving some of the Titusville employees would be welcomed as the other regional campuses could use some more people.
Bonneau, Wilson and Senate Council Director Lori Molinaro met with Feick earlier this month about the transition, and they will be taking up issues about Titusville in their monthly meeting with top Pitt administrators.
“Pitt is going out there, going pretty far down the road to try to make it easy and offer severance packages that are good and all that,” Wilson said.
Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-383-9905.