SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Patrick Burkhart, Slippery Rock University professor of geography, geology and the environment, is the new president of the SRU chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State, College and University Faculty, the union that represents some 460 faculty and athletic coaches at SRU. He took over Tuesday and has his agenda set: negotiate a new contract.
Burkhart, who joined the faculty in 1998, takes over from Jace Condravy, professor of English and APSCUF president for the past nine years.
“The first item we have to work on is a new contract,” Burkhart said on his first day in office. “I am looking to help us persist through the budgetary process and forge a new collective bargaining agreement.”
The new president previously served two, two-year elective terms as chair of the faculty union’s negotiating committee and has been a representative to APSCUF’s legislative assembly.
“I would really like to see a new agreement in place this summer, or by early fall,” he said.
The APSCUF-Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education contract expired last June 11, but the union agreed to continue work under the old contract as negotiations continued.
As part of his ascension to chapter president, Burkhart will also join the formal contract negotiating team comprised of all 14 union presidents covered by the PASSHE-APSCUF agreement. The team frequently meets in Harrisburg to negotiate with PASSHE representatives.
He credited Condravy for her years of service and dedication to the SRU faculty.
“Jace has proven to be a strong leader for nine years through several contract negotiations. She too has persevered through concerns over state appropriations and advancing our union,” he said.
According to Burkhart, major challenges within the union are keeping membership strong and embracing the concerns of temporary and part-time faculty. He said he would also work on building collegiality for the local chapter.
A veteran union member, Burkhart brings a long history of union activity to the post.
“I recognize the history of unions in enhancing the workplace and promoting equity. I have been a union member since age 16, my first job in which I was a member of the Retail Clerks International Association, which became the United Food and Clerical Workers union.”
Burkhart earned his doctorate in geology from Lehigh University, his master’s degree in geology from Wright State University and his undergraduate degree in geology from Case Western Reserve University.
Condravy took over as president when William Williams, then APSCUF president, was elevated to SRU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. She said a highlight of her presidency was, “Our 2007 job action. It was a very intense experience that I had with our faculty and our administration. It was a lot of work, and it was successful. I am glad we did not have to enforce the action with a strike.”
“Patrick will do a fine job as president. He has served on the executive committee for a couple of years and has seen the kinds of responsibilities he needs to undertake and the kinds of working relationships that have been established. He also has a very solid and experienced executive committee to work with,” she said.
“I am proud of the strong team player our chapter has been in the statewide association. I believe that during my term that the local chapter has worked really well at communicating to all faculty what an important factor the union and the contract is in their lives. I understand that on other campuses, faculty sometimes feel out of touch with their union.”
“I am also proud we established the Wilma J. Cavill Service Award to recognize faculty for their outstanding service to the union. It is important to recognize those who have committed to union activities, especially with all of the other items on campus calling for their attention,” Condravy said.
Carolyn Steglich, professor of biology, was presented the award last December.
“I am also very pleased that we have built and maintain a strong local chapter, but were still able to retain a very cooperative working relationship with the administration,” she said.
Condravy said she expected to add a new English course to her teaching load and looks forward to time to relax “without the responsibilities of going to so many meetings.”
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