APSCUF celebrates 80 years of service

What began in 1937 as a professional association for faculty at Pennsylvania’s teacher colleges has grown into an organization touching the lives of more than 100,000 students and their families each year. To celebrate the APSCUF’s 80th anniversary, members, retirees, and honored guests gathered Sept. 15 at Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg for an evening of awards, memories, and camaraderie.

This slideshow of APSCUF images throughout the decades played during the reception and dinner:

Later, attendees watched excerpts from an interview with Dr. John Pierce Watkins, who was APSCUF’s president 1972–73:

Along with celebrating APSCUF’s 80th anniversary, Rick Bloomingdale, president of Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, right, received the APSCUF Distinguished Friend of Public Higher Education Award. Presenting the award is APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash:

Helen Bieber, retired Kutztown University professor and longtime APSCUF secretary, received the APSCUF Distinguished Service Award. With her are Kutztown University professor Paul Quinn, right, who introduced Bieber, and Mash:

Jerry Oleksiak, acting secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, spoke about the importance of public higher education and APSCUF’s work:

Watch APSCUF’s Facebook page in the coming days for additional photos from the event and last week’s legislative assembly.

Works & Days chronicles “Three Days in October”

We are proud to have a copy of Works & Days journal on display in the State APSCUF conference room. The entire “Three Days in October” issue is devoted to contract negotiations and last fall’s APSCUF faculty job action.

Learn more about subscribing to the journal here. The Indiana University of Pennsylvania APSCUF chapter also has copies for sale in its campus office.

State APSCUF always welcomes members’ books, articles, recordings, and other scholarly or creative endeavors so we can show them off in our Harrisburg office. Please feel free to contribute your work to the collection, preferably signed. We’ll acknowledge each contribution with a letter of appreciation. Our mailing address is 319 N. Front St., Harrisburg PA 17101. For more information, email

State APSCUF welcomes new executive assistant to the president

Today we welcome Andrea Mahoney, left, State APSCUF’s new executive assistant to the president. She will spend the next few weeks learning her duties from Lisa Demko, right, who at the end of this month will retire from APSCUF after more than 30 years.

Two fields of study, “one great experience” for fall intern

My name is Brendan Leahy, and I am APSCUF’s communications and government-relations intern for fall 2017.

I just started my senior year at Shippensburg University, where I major in communications/journalism and minor in political science. I am also active in campus media, including SUTV and WSYC.

I am excited for this internship opportunity, which will allow me to bring together my two fields of study into one great experience.

In my free time, I enjoy watching sports, especially Premier League soccer.

—Brendan Leahy, APSCUF intern

Read Dr. Kenneth M. Mash’s remarks to the Board of Governors – Aug. 22, 2017

Chairwoman Shapira, Governors,

I am here because we learned that today you would be considering an exception to Board of Governors Policy 1985-01-A — specifically an exception for Cheyney University to the language in that policy that requires universities to provide an opportunity for students who are enrolled or admitted to complete a program that is put in moratorium.

While I understand the very serious looming deadlines that are quickly approaching for Cheyney University, I think it would have been in everyone’s best interest if the subject of the meeting was more broadly publicized so that those who will be affected by any change would have notice and an opportunity to speak up. While I know this is not required by the Sunshine Act, the Office of Open Records does state that it is “good practice” to include the subject of the meeting in a special-meeting notice.

That aside, I speaking on the best knowledge I have right now, which is thirdhand information. I will not speak today about the impact on faculty. We have a contractually mandated forum to make those cogent arguments, and we certainly will.

Should you still be considering this action today, I would ask that you pause. While the deadline is nearing quickly, it is premature to make this exception. Generally, I think it unwise to make exceptions for Cheyney University. Cheyney’s problems have not come about because it has been treated differently; they exist because the expectations of that university have, historically, been different. I have made that case many times, and I won’t go into detail now. I do have concern about the optics of making this exception for this one university. I also have general concerns about this Board heading down the path of making exceptions for any particular university.

Nevertheless, taking action today would be premature. Unless there is information that has not been shared that should have been shared with us, nobody yet knows what programs may be put into moratorium. Nobody knows how many students may be affected. Should those students not be able to know that the rules may be changed for them? Should they not be given an opportunity to share their concerns before a decision is made?

If the rules are to be different for the State System’s only HBCU, has everyone fully considered the consequences? What student would want to attend a university that has a history of closing programs on the students who attend? Not that long ago, we all used to say that a university’s catalogue was its contract with students. What type of word-of-mouth will be generated among generations of families, friends, and acquaintances, should that contract be broken? While the short term presents us with the most difficult of circumstances, what good is it to damage the future for the present?

The latest that I have heard includes the prospect that any of these students will be granted admission at another State System university and that they will be able to take scholarship monies with them. Is that really sufficient? Will they be guaranteed dorm space when they transfer? Will the cost of the dorms and other fees be comparable? Will they be given additional support so that they can effectively transition? I hope all of this is part of the consideration, and that attention is paid to each individual student.

There are populations of students who need Cheyney University to succeed so that they may have a chance at the American Dream. They don’t need Cheyney to survive in skeleton form as a monument to our de jure segregationist past. They do need it, among many other reasons, because racism persists.

I applaud the Board for its determination to change what needs to be changed at Cheyney University. I applaud those at the University who are doing their best under dire circumstances. I only hope that we pay every bit of attention to current and future Cheyney students that we possibly can. Thus, we urge the Board to hear them out, to look out for their futures, and to continue efforts to transform Cheyney back to a thriving university.

Role of a life: Theater professor donates part of liver to Clarion graduate

Marilouise Michel was scrolling through her Facebook feed early this year when a Clarion University graduate’s post leapt out at her.

Stevette Wano Rosen’s friend, a fellow Clarion graduate, needed a new liver. The donor must have a matching blood type and be able to take four to six weeks off work. Michel, a theater professor at Clarion, met both criteria.

“This has always been something that’s been an interest of mine,” she said of organ donation. Her father was a surgeon, and her cousin had a kidney transplant, among other inspirations.

Michel wrote to Rosen for details and learned about Tammy Pawlak, who had been in a coma and has an 8-year-old daughter.

“I was sitting in my office in the university, and I took a deep breath, and I typed, ‘I’m O positive,’” Michel said. “Everything from there was in capital letters.”

The exchange triggered a whirlwind of meetings, testing (including 43 vials of blood drawn), and paperwork. For privacy reasons, doctors did not introduce Michel and Pawlak, but the two chose to meet in Maryland.

“We tried to be really mutually supportive through the whole thing,” Michel said. “Because (Tammy) was a student, she almost feels like a distant relative. I’ve been at Clarion 27 years, so it feels like she’s a part of my family.”

Rosen echoed the feeling of kinship.

“I was absolutely blown away — relieved but not surprised because of Mel’s personality and all of our passion for Clarion University,” Rosen said. “You just become a family.”

‘A fabulous cake’

The donation process culminated June 6, when Michel underwent a multi-hour surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. When it was over, she’d given 60 percent of her liver to someone she’d known a few months. Her souvenir: a 36-staple “shark bite,” as she calls it, winding across her abdomen.

Marilouise Michel, a theater professor at Clarion University, shows off her “shark bite,” after donating part of her liver to a Clarion graduate. Photo courtesy of Marilouise Michel

“I really feel like it’s not something I do,” she said. “It’s something doctors do, but they can’t do it without the ingredients — almost like a chef making a fabulous cake. I’m able to supply the ingredient to do this wonderful thing for this person.”

The recipe required some preparation: Michel followed a strict diet when she was concerned about one of her test results, and she cut alcohol in April.

“I did spend a lot of time dreaming about pizza and beer,” she said with a laugh. Her doctors cleared her to drink moderately eight weeks after surgery, and she had her first post-donation beer in early August.

Michel, a yoga teacher, also craved movement.

“I was doing yoga poses on the gurney (in the preparation room),” she said, because she knew some positions would be off-limits for a few weeks after the procedure.

She’s had no complications so far and planned a summer of sailing and “gentle camping in the woods away from doctors and needles,” she said. At an appointment in early August, Michel saw MRI images that showed her liver regeneration was “pretty much done now,” she said.

Collaboration was another critical ingredient, Michel said. She cited her family, her aerobics class that donated restaurant gift cards to her family, in-laws in Maryland who provided accommodations when she was in Baltimore for appointments, supportive colleagues, and friends.

“It was a real team effort,” she said. “I just happened to be the person who got cut open.”

Knowledge is power

A comfort to Michel throughout the process was the knowledge that she was not obligated to donate, she said. It was her choice.

“I was constantly checking in with myself and my liver, asking ‘are you OK with this?’” she said.

Pawlak was relieved the transplant went as smoothly as it did, she said from her home in Maryland. Her recovery has been slower than Michel’s, but she’s thinking positively, she said.

Marilouise Michel, left, and Clarion University graduate Tammy Pawlak take a photograph before their surgeries in June. Photo courtesy of Marilouise Michel

“I’m taking it one day at a time, baby steps,” she said. “Every day is a step toward 100 percent.”

The healthier she becomes, the closer Pawlak is to a trip to Clarion, where she has family — and friends.

“Clarion brought us all together,” Pawlak said. “I’ll forever be grateful for Stevette and Mel.”

Meanwhile, Michel intends to continue advocating for organ donation.

“So many people are waiting for livers, and you have to be so sick to be at the top of the list to get deceased donors,” Michel explained. “There’s a much better success rate with living donors.”

Michel has plans to make that success possible for others.

“My biggest contribution will be with my mouth … demystifying the process,” she said. “I think it’s the unknown that’s scary. If you can talk to somebody that’s been through it, maybe that can help people. I’m an educator. Knowledge is power. The more I can help people understand the process, the more other people can help people, too.”

Helping can be as simple as opting to be an organ donor on one’s license or giving blood, something Michel does regularly, she said.

“I could go to sleep and let somebody cut a hole in me and cut out part of my liver,” she said. “I don’t think it makes me a great hero because I think everybody has what they can do. I wish I could save lives every day. I help kids hopefully pursue their dreams. This is a way that I could help Tammy pursue her dream of being a mom.”

—Kathryn Morton, APSCUF communications director

APSCUF welcomes second faculty intern from Slippery Rock University

We are delighted to have Joseph Robare, Slippery Rock University faculty member, as our faculty intern this week. He will be in the Harrisburg office interacting with staff members and observing the spectrum of union administration. Click here to learn more about APSCUF’s faculty and coaches orientation internships.

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