Letter to the Editor: We should all be worried about Marywood


Photo credit/ The Wood Word Design Team

The writer of this letter expresses his concern for the future of Marwood after their third round of VSOs were sent out.

On July 7, 2021, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) released a final implementation plan to consolidate six of its universities into just two entities. Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield now make up the Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania and California, Clarion, and Edinboro now make up PennWest University.

The continuous mistakes and oversights that have been taking place as a result of this consolidation are something that the greater higher education community of Pennsylvania, including Marywood, should be paying close attention to.

Pennsylvania has historically underfunded its higher education system. According to the National Science Foundation, an independent agency of the federal government, Pennsylvania is 44th in terms of expenditure per full-time student. Surrounding states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York spend twice as more as Pennsylvania.

The consolidation took place as a result of this systematic disinvestment, as PASSHE’s operation paradigm, as stated by its president Daniel Greenstein, is to make up for the funds missing from lower enrollment by charging the student more. In turn, this drives students away and incentivizes PASSHE to raise costs.

It should be made clear that PASSHE is state-owned and its mission statement is to provide affordable education to anyone who needs it. Instead, Commonwealth and PennWest are continuing to cut student services, academics, extracurricular support, and so on in the name of saving money. Mansfield, a college where traditionally all of the classes were in person on campus, now forces students to take virtual classes taught by Bloomsburg professors. All of this is as they build new athletic complexes and rock climbing walls to lure high school seniors in.

One of the most important takeaways is to consider the amount of backlash against this decision and how the administration completely ignored all of it. Faculty unions like PA AFL-CIO, APSCUF, and AFSCHME opposed it. Local governments like Lock Haven and Clinton County opposed it. Student groups like PASSHE Defenders and SPL opposed it. It was clear to everyone that consolidation would cut jobs, tank local economies, and downgrade the student experience. Despite all of this backlash, the consolidation was voted through without opposition on the board.

All of these issues may seem nebulous and unimportant to Marywood, a private university in Scranton, but it highlights the many issues we have with higher education. As a student body and faculty, we need to have a more critical view of the institution to which we pay tuition and sign the staff’s checks.

Are your professors, assistant professors, and adjuncts paid enough? Are extracurriculars given enough support? Are housing and dining adequate? If any of these questions are “no,” we should start turning the screws on the administration and really have a conversation about what Marywood should look like.

If we don’t, we will be stuck with an administration that downgrades the student experience, like PASSHE. An administration that refuses to pay its adjuncts and grad assistants, like Temple University. An administration that cannot provide a living wage to its professors, like the City University of New York. In these surprisingly relatable situations, Marywood would fail in its mission to empower people through education.

We should especially be critical of the administration as they send out a round of VSOs. This signals to everyone that the administration is expecting to cut staff and make life worse for the student body.

Samuel Conklin
First Year Architecture Student