The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which runs 14 state universities including West Chester and Cheyney, will leave 128 of its 13,000 positions vacant for the remainder of the fiscal year and freeze the salaries of all non-union employees for at least six months.

The unfilled positions range from vice presidents to maintenance workers, with most in the administrative area, officials said yesterday. No faculty positions are involved, and searches for open faculty positions will continue, officials said. The universities will be permitted to hire faculty where needed.

"This action is necessary in light of current economic conditions facing both PASSHE and the commonwealth," Chancellor John C. Cavanaugh said in a prepared statement.

In October, the system agreed to a request by Gov. Rendell to return $22 million, or about 4.25 percent of its annual state funding, to help the state deal with a budget shortfall. The salary freeze will affect approximately 1,500 managers, administrators and other nonunion employees across the system.

- Susan Snyder