The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Chatham University Library and Information Technology Services departments merged after staff layoffs

Jeanie King Mellon Library

Chatham University’s Jennie King Mellon (JKM) Library and Information Technology Services departments have been combined after some employees were laid off in both departments. The layoffs and merger are a part of the University’s larger efforts to reduce costs amid an $8 million to $12 million deficit. 

Both Head of Public Services, Dana Mastroianni, who has absorbed many of the responsibilities of the library director, and Chief Information Officer, Paul Steinhaus, who Mastroianni now reports to, said that merging the two departments is not a rarity among colleges and universities.  

Steinhaus pointed out that President Rhonda Phillips previously worked at Purdue University, which has a combined department. Mastroianni and Steinhaus said that the biggest challenges did not come from the merger itself, but from the speed at which the reduced staff was expected to do it. 

While the decision was first officially announced to students in an email from the Office of the President on Aug. 31, the staff of both departments found out earlier that month on Aug. 3. The swift transition was worsened by a total of six layoffs, four in ITS and two in JKM Library. 

ITS lost two developers, a network administrator and someone who worked in Support Services at Eden Hall. JKM Library lost its library director and its archivist. When asked if there was a phasing-out period for staff after they were informed they were going to be let go, Mastroianni let out a small, uncomfortable laugh. 

“There was not a phasing-out period,” she said. 

Remaining staff have had to pick up the responsibilities that fell to those who were laid off. 

But the job of an archivist has been a gap that the now-merged Library and Information Technology Services department cannot bridge. Without proper training, no staffer can enter the physical archives in JKM Library. 

This came as a shock to out-of-town researcher and Penn State associate professor Dr. Pamela VanHaitsma, who traveled from State College to see Chatham’s extensive collection of materials from Rachel Carson.  

The day VanHaitsma arrived in Pittsburgh on Aug. 8, she learned that the archivist was let go. Unable to access the archives and down over $1,600 from traveling expenses, she scrambled to find a last-minute solution.  

“From what I can see Chatham does not hesitate to use Rachel Carson’s name in their public relations and to their own benefit as an institution,” she said. “I think it’s an incredible source of pride that she graduated from there, but it’s very concerning that that’s not backed up by actually taking care of her authentic materials.” 

Mastroianni said that the timing was unfortunate as VanHaitsma arrived just days after the layoffs. 

“We totally understood her frustration. Obviously, we were frustrated too,” Mastroianni said. 

While the hope is to hire another archivist in the future, the physical archives will be closed for the academic year.  

The layoffs and inability to hire any new workers is also affecting hours at the JKM Library. Last academic year, the building was open almost 90 hours across seven days a week. Now, it’s open for 70 and closed on Saturdays. Mastroianni said that stretching staff across working hours has been a significant challenge after the layoffs.  

Steinhaus agreed, but he maintained a hopeful attitude about the future of the merged department. Currently, he’s looking for student workers to staff a new Support Services location in the library, which he said will keep students from having to travel to Woodland to get tech support if they encounter issues while studying or with the library printers. 

For the most part, Steinhaus said, students will not notice any significant changes because of the merger, other than reduced library hours. 

“There won’t be many changes to LITS, the new department. If anything, I’m hoping it’s an improvement,” he said. “What I’m really hoping is that the library is and continues to be kind of the center of campus. So, it’s a place for students to be able to come, not only socially, but also to study in a quiet space.” 

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About the Contributor
Abigail Hakas
Abigail Hakas, Opinion Editor
Abigail Hakas ’25 is a Communications major with a concentration in journalism and a minor in African American Studies. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Abigail transferred to Chatham from the Community College of Allegheny County after three years of study. Abigail’s focuses are opinion pieces and informative stories on issues relating to inequity and social justice. Outside of journalism, Abigail has a passion for wrestling, video games and animals. Abigail can be reached at Abigail[email protected].

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