Monday, October 31, 2011

HUST: Truthful About Student Enrollment?

Well, it's a new year and HUST appears to be grossly exaggerating their student enrollment again. Last year they claimed a total student enrollment of 822. This year they claim 1022. Here is a web capture from HUST's website, October of 2011:

Every institution that accepts financial aid must report certain information. That information is public and available through the National Center for Education Statistics. HUST's specific report is available here. When you visit, you'll see this:

Also, in June of 2011, HUST reported a total enrollment of 386 to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, HUST's accrediting body. So there are at least two official figures that disagree with HUST's public claims.

Strange indeed! Did HUST enroll 700 new students for fall of 2011?! Errr no.

There were about 90 first year students for fall of 2011.  A few students transfered in. Some transfered out and some students graduated. HUST's horrible retention rate indicated about 70 first year students left. When all is said and done my best estimate for the current total student enrollment (graduate and undergraduate) is about 350. HUST had a decrease in student enrollment in the neighborhood of 40-70 students. I'm sure the Provost would be happy to give you the exact figures if you ask. /sarcasm

When confronted with these figures the Provost allegedly has claimed that fudging your numbers is "what everyone does". This is simply untrue. For example, Temple University reports about 37,000 students. The Nation Center for Education Statistics confirms that number. The same is true for other local institutions like HACC and York College. It appears that HUST is attempting to disguise their true enrollment numbers. Why would they need to do that?

Is Harrisburg University's President Making Stuff Up?

On Oct 20th 2011, Jeff Selingo published an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Where Will Innovation Begin?  In the article Mel Schiavelli, Harrisburg University's President, makes some interesting comments. First Selingo writes "Of the 115 students who have graduated from the university since its founding, 106 of them are employed in central Pennsylvania." this is not directly attributed to Schiavelli in the article, but we've heard the figure from HUST before, so we can assume it came from  Schiavelli or his office (correct me if I'm wrong.) Anyhow, that statement is meant to support the idea that HUST students are graduating and getting good jobs in their field right here in Harrisburg. Instead the statement just implies that the students are all working in their field locally. That of course is just silly, HUST students aren't magical, they have the same problems finding good jobs just like every other new college graduate.

According to the article, Schiavelli put the following "innovations" in place:

No departments. "Academic departments are silos built by faculty members to further their research and careers..." Schiavelli said. The truth is, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology does not support scientific research and to my knowledge there has never been a faculty member that published in a peer-reviewed journal while at HUST. Let me say that again: HUST DOES NOT SUPPORT SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH of any kind. There was one paper published by an adjunct recently, but again, his research was not supported by HUST.

According to HUST's 2009 990 financial statement, there are three directors that are listed under the section of highest paid employees. It's pretty obvious that Schiavelli's only "innovation" in this case is to call the the departments "programs". There are indeed departments at HUST.

No tenure. “We couldn't afford it,” Schiavelli said. The truth of the matter is that Schiavelli has long promised faculty multi-year contracts, but has refused to honor his word. HUST uses the threat of job loss each year to keep faculty in line. As Schiavelli pointed out, many of the faculty have stuck with HUST in hopes of making it a better place. There is no logical reason to deny these faculty members the contracts they were promised.   Schiavelli could easily keep his word if he chose to do so. Instead, HUST spends their money on big bonuses for Schiavelli, the Provost, the CFO, Director's salaries, recruitment and marketing.

"All those hired had tenure or were on the tenure track elsewhere." Schiavelli said.  Guess what? This simply isn't true either. The exact opposite is true. Only one faculty member had tenure at another university, every other faculty hire was either denied tenure at their previous institution, was an adjunct or was hired right out of graduate school. The idea that tenured faculty clamored to get jobs at HUST is laughable. Ask the professors if you want the truth.

Corporate involvement.  "At Harrisburg the corporate committees are much more involved, voting on curricula, and, in some cases, members serve on the faculty. " Yep. As a matter of fact, at HUST "corporate faculty" make up about 75% of the faculty members at the university (in academia they are known as "adjuncts".) HUST couldn't survive without the adjuncts, overall they do excellent work and we are proud to have them be part of the HUST community. However, a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) school needs to have actual scientist (not business people) as a primary source of science education.

Student amenities. "There is no campus. The university operates from a single building in downtown. There are no sports teams or dormitories."  Schiavelli has been spinning this for awhile and I let it go since it's such a fucking stupid statement. Amenities by definition are desirable and useful.  That fact that HUST can't even offer free parking is not an innovation. Oh and HUST opened a dorm in May of 2011.

Schiavelli seems to have difficulty with facts.

[Update: 11/2: Schiavelli is at it again. "Of the original dozen full-time instructors whom Dr. Schiavelli hired, all left tenured positions to take untenured ones at HU. Only two have exited, by their choice, not Dr. Schiavelli’s." - Hope and Change in Harrisburg.]


Here we go again! New posts will be announced on Facebook.

[update 11/3] I've chosen to exercise my right to free speech. Institutions that accept government funding and don't pay taxes need to be held accountable for how they spend our money. And students that invest $20K a year (much of it in government-backed loans or grants) have a right to know if their institution is acting in their best interest.

My wish is to help students get the education they deserve and improve working conditions for the faculty and staff. If I must expose questionable practices at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, then so be it. I have no desire to harm the institution or defame anyone. Therefore, if I have posted any information that you feel is not factual, let me know and I'll make a correction or remove the information. There are no trade secrets, internal documents or material obtain illegally posted or discussed in this blog.