Negotiators for the administration and faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and 13 other state-owned universities late Thursday reached an “agreement in principal” on a new labor contract for the 5,500 professors at the colleges.

The proposed four-year contract would replace one that expired June 30. The professors worked without interruption under terms of the former deal while bargaining continued.

The agreement was announced in a joint news release issued by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF).

Details will not be released to the public until the process of ratification and approval is complete. If approved, the pact would activate upon ratification by APSCUF and the PASSHE board of governors.

For this faculty contract, the State System and APSCUF have engaged in interest-based bargaining, which focuses on collaboration instead of traditional exchanges of contract proposals. Negotiators met for a total of 21 days since talks began in mid-May, including five straight days of talks that ended Wednesday at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.

Lawyers for APSCUF and the state system will continue to finalize language before a tentative agreement is available for APSCUF members. The ratification process will begin after the language is completed.

“I believe that the agreement in principle represents an historic advance in the process of creating a shared vision of how our universities should operate to best serve our students,” APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said. “The principle components are fair, they address a number of faculty concerns, and they establish a solid foundation for the future of public higher education in Pennsylvania.”

“When the State System and APSCUF began this journey last summer, we all envisioned a process that put students at the center of our discussions,” said Board of Governors Chair Cindy Shapira. “We’ve achieved that goal together. Reaching this milestone is another example of what System Redesign is all about — working together to solve complex problems with the shared understanding of our common interests and always putting students at the center of everything we do.”

“By engaging deeply with each other from the start, the negotiating teams achieved a result that puts students first, honors the important work of our dedicated faculty, and takes another important step toward overcoming our financial challenges,” said Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “Along the way, we built lasting relationships that will serve us well as we collaborate to create a better future for our students, our 14 universities, and our commonwealth.”

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education oversees 14 four-year public universities educating more than 90,000 students.