Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Harrisburg University is a failure and how to save it

As you can imagine, I get hate mail. Most of the stuff is along the lines of "You are destroying the school!" and "Why are you crapping where you eat?" and "Reveal yourself coward!" You get the idea. You might think you are telling me off, but I'm actually grateful that you are passionate enough to visit the blog and send me a note. It means you care and that's good. I can see your point though, I've been highly critical of the administration and absentee trustees to the point of being downright mean. But my intention is not to destroy Harrisburg University, but to save it. You may recall I blogged last year about some of the very same stuff I'm blogging about this year. The blog was only live for a couple of months, then I shut it down in hopes of change. Sadly, I've only seen changes for the worse.

I was forced to blog as Harrisburg University lacks any mechanism for self-correction. All the power in the organization is concentrated with the provost and he is grossly unqualified to be our chief academic officer. He has never succeed as a faculty member or an academic administrator. Take a hard look at his bio, it's either fluff or business related. BTW, both of those business in his bio no longer exist, so I'm not sure how good of a businessmen he is either. Anyhow, the president is not nicknamed "Do Nothing" without reason, he's been essentially useless. He has never tempered the provost in any way. As the president and the provost are the only ones that speak to the trustees (until recently), it has lead to a complete failure of the organization.

Even within the organization, everything is decided by the provost. Take a look at the HU Student Handbook or the HU Faculty Handbook. You'll see that there are established procedures for grievances, but the provost has the final say on everything. What if your problem is with the provost? What if the provost is a complete idiot? The buck officially stops at the president, but as we've established - he's useless at best.

We have seen how student enrollment is down, retention is pitiful, the president is a liar, the provost is an incompetent buffoon, the school acts fraudulently towards freshman, financial aid is screwed up, the school's mission has been forgotten, there are persistent rumors of financial distress, the registrar devours the young, we have a bloated administration with fat salaries, we don't have enough faculty and genuine science is dying. What else could go wrong? What has to happen before the trustees do something?

How did the university get so far off track?

It's obvious that the administration wants the university to be a business and technology school. It has demonstrated no real interest in STEM or experiential learning, its complete dedication to the underrepresented is a single remedial math class and the school is currently gutting the science faculty. The capital region of Pennsylvania does/did not need another business and technology school. Rather than fight an uphill battle to get a charter, it seems the university  latched onto every buzzword ("STEM", "underrepresented" and "experiential learning") they could find. Anything that would distinguish the school, get a charter and help with funding.

The provost's big innovation was to run the university like a business. That model is a complete failure. An academic institution is not akin to a business selling software or sprockets. The faculty and staff are not the employees and the students are not the customers. That, however, is the provost's attitude and the fundamental failure of the institution. The administration feels that they are Harrisburg University. In their minds, the faculty and staff work for them and the students buy their product.

This business-like model of education is at odds with successful academic models. Principles that include shared governance, fiscal transparency and academic integrity are simply incompatible with an approach that takes the power from the community to help and direct themselves. This business-like model has killed the community itself and has lead to Harrisburg University becoming nothing more than a soulless for-profit business and technology institution. Everything about Harrisburg University screams "for profit": the marketing material is all about "hot careers", the marketing is disingenuous ("92 percent of HU students have a job in their major at graduation!"), a shiny building, fake centers of science, and an administration that continuously lies about facts and figures.

The students sense the lack of community, the falseness and administration's air of disinterest in them. Unfortunately, it takes a semester or two before the realize they have been scammed.This is why we have declining enrollment and bottom-of-the-barrel retention.

Can we fix it?

That's really up to you. Is Harrisburg University worth fighting for? I like to think that it is. But there must be fundamental changes made immediately or the school is destine for failure. Read through the blog. You'll see example after example of  failures on the part of Harrisburg University in many aspects of accreditation. You'll see examples of Harrisburg University violating Pennsylvania law. One disgruntled employee or a few angry students could topple the whole institution. It's really that bad.

I've heard staff members and administration complaining about this blog. They feel that to reveal these problems to students and the community is just plain wrong. I disagree. If my kid was a student at Harrisburg University, I'd want them to know the truth. Wouldn't you?

Students are not customers that can be hoodwinked, they are part of our community and they deserve our respect. We have an ethical and professional obligation to tell them the truth.

If you feel otherwise, then go get a job selling used cars or something, you don't belong in an academic institution.

What can be done

1) Harrisburg University must acknowledge our problems and take immediate corrective action. This is the only way to avoid losing accreditation.
2) The business-like model of education must be abandoned.
3) Harrisburg University must, from this day forward, be honest in all of their public dealings.
4) Our current administration must be removed.
5) There must be fiscal transparency.
6) There must be shared governance.
7) The faculty must unite and form a community.
8) The faculty, staff and administration must acknowledge that Harrisburg University exists for the benefits of the students and the community, not vice versa.
9) The trustees need to get their heads out of their asses.
10) Our overpaid an overabundant administrators need to be culled.
11) Our academic programs need to be reviewed.
12) Harrisburg University needs real leadership. The selection of new leaders should be decided with input from the entire community.


It's now or never HU community. Do we stand or do we fall?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Harrisburg University and Financial Exigency

I've received something like twenty inquires about financial exigency and Harrisburg University. I said in my very first post "There are no...internal documents or materials...posted or discussed in this blog." Therefore, I can neither confirm nor deny a state of financial exigency at Harrisburg University at this time. The University has made no public comment regarding the issue, nor have they published a confirmation or denial. I'm just blown away that so many people have asked me about it. Isn't this something the administration should be discussing with you?

What is financial exigency anyhow?

It is generally defined this way: An imminent financial crisis which threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and which cannot be alleviated by anything less than drastic means.

Harrisburg University describes it this way: "'Financial exigency' is understood to mean an urgent need to reorder the nature and magnitude of the institution's financial obligations in such a way as to restore or preserve the institution's financial viability." - HU Faculty Handbook

In other words, financial exigency is a financial crisis of such magnitude, that it threatens the entire institution. An institution would only declare financial exigency as a last ditch effort to save itself. Financial exigency is generally the sole means to dismiss tenured faculty without cause. Financial exigency is not used lightly to retool departments or dismiss undesirable personnel, it is used to terminate entire departments or programs. It is academic bankruptcy, it allows the institution to save itself by not honoring its contracts.

Harrisburg University describes it like this: "A state of financial exigency must be shown to be demonstrably bona fide by a preponderance of the evidence. This can be demonstrated by various means; for example, by showing declining enrollments coupled with operating deficits of a magnitude or duration as to leave little doubt about the financial weakness of the institution." - HU Faculty Handbook

Generally, institutions avoid financial exigency like the plague, it's pretty much a death knell for an institution. You can understand why an institution would only make a declaration of financial exigency if there was simply no other hope of saving the institution. For example: Would you pay $21K a year to Harrisburg University if you knew they were having a severe financial crisis? Many of you would not. Many current students would simply leave as a degree from a failed institution is worthless. If you were a prospective student, would you even consider going to a school suffering a financial crisis? Financial exigency can ruin an institution's reputation, ruin its credit and threaten its certification with the state and its regional accreditation.

Darr and Schiavelli wouldn't hide something like that from students, would they? 

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Much of Harrisburg University's handbook is based on the American Association of University Professor's (AAUP) guidelines. You can read more about financial exigency at the AAUP website.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

You're invited!

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

The Harrisburg University Student Government Association would like to invite you to its inaugural Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 5:00 P.M. in the 14th floor auditorium. We've invited the President and Provost of the University to speak with us to address some of the pressing issues on student's minds today. To submit your questions for this historic event, please send them to the SGA by 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, November 29. For your convenience, we've set up multiple avenues to do this: Send an email to hutownhall@gmail.com, RSVP and comment on our Facebook event site. Speak with a Senator, leave written questions with Kim Bowman, or ask a question anonymously.  All questions will be handled confidentially by the SGA. This is your chance to hear facts firsthand; not your friend of a classmate whose neighbor's roommate heard through her mother's cousin who read some blog on the interwebs... so, BE THERE.

Sincerely,
Jackie Turner
Student President
Harrisburg University Student Government Association


*****************************************************************
The above announcement was sent anonymously to the blog. It was edited for the web.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Harrisburg University president vacations in China, excels at stupid

Our administration figured they could fix our retention and enrollment problems if they could aquire some students that cant leave easily recruit internationally. No, I'm not kidding. In 2011, Harrisburg University sent Mel Schiavelli on an all expense paid vacation business trip to China for an entire month to recruit students. This was not the only trip, just the most recent.

There are so many problems with this, I hardly know where to start. I guess I'll just make a list.

1) I'm pretty sure China is not in the Pennsylvania Capital region.
2) Harrisburg University's mission is to help the students and business of the Pennsylvania Capital region.
3) Harrisburg University's mission does not include international students unless they happen to live in the Pennsylvania Capital region.
4) Harrisburg University does not have an English as a Second Language program.
5) Harrisburg University does not have a support system (student services, cultural center) for Chinese students.
6) Harrisburg University does not have any staff that speak Chinese.
7) Harrisburg University has not met their primary mission, it's not the time to start a new mission.

In the fall of 2011, Harrisburg University welcomed four Chinese students. Predictably, two of the four have already left the university before even completing a single semester.

I'm not even going to editorialize. The stupid has made me speechless. Just pause here a moment with me and we'll just stare blankly and with disbelief at the stupid. Stupid.

The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is an independent educational institution offering academic and research programs in mathematics, science, and technology designed to meet the needs of the region's youth, workforce, and businesses, and to expand, attract, and create economic opportunities in the region. - Harrisburg University Mission Statement

Founded to address the need of Pennsylvania's Capital Region for increased educational opportunities in applied science and technology-related fields, the vision of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is to provide academic programs at undergraduate and graduate levels...” -Harrisburg University Vision Statement


“This University has been, from the very beginning, an endeavor of, by and for the citizens of the Commonwealth. We are a university born of this community and, with continuing help, our graduates will play a key role in stimulating the growth of Pennsylvania's knowledge-based economy” -Ryan T. Riley, AVP of Development and Alumni Relations at Harrisburg University.

“Now that we've built the foundation for STEM education, we must ensure that our university flourishes with the region's best and brightest students. The HU vision means investing in our students, building our community and strengthening Central Pennsylvania's economy” - Mel Schiavelli thanking contributors.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Harrisburg University: no eithics, no honesty and no math skills

At this point, I think it's safe to just assume anything that Harrisburg University puts out there that might be construed as recruitment material is suspect. I've documented how the president lies (and here), how the provost has a propensity to be anything but truthful and how the advancement folks churn out loads of misleading figures. Here is more Harrisburg University BS:

HU Wikipedia page claim
Have you been to the library? There are less than 4000 volumes.Virtual libraries don't count. Source: Nation Center for Education Statistics  4,000≠20,000

HU Wikipedia page claim
"Academic staff" means faculty. There are eleven full-time faculty at Harrisburg University and three of them are "administrative faculty" that only teach a course or two (if that) per semester. So in reality, there are 8 full-time faculty at HU.  Source: Nation Center for Education Statistics. Part time faculty: Even if you count the administration that claims to be faculty and adjunct faculty that no longer work at HU, you'll be lucky if you can come up with 40. Source: HU Staff Directory  40+11≠69

If you want to figure out the size of our current student body: enroll in a class, you'll see that there is a list of eligible participants. There is currently about 525 people on that list. The list includes all faculty (past and present), administration, staff and students (even those that have graduated.) If you remove all the graduates, faculty, staff and administration, you are left with about 320 actual students.

  HU Wikipedia code. 0+0=1022!  

I guess it's obvious why they don't list the actual numbers of undergrad and graduates on wikipedia or anywhere else for that matter. In 2010 total enrollment was 373. 304 undergraduates, 22 transfer students and 69 graduate students. 304+22+69≠1022 Source: College Navigator NCES

Source: Official HU Fast Facts 

The Assoc. Prof. of Multimedia does not have a Ph.D. The Assistant Professor of Learning Technologies does not have a Ph.D. Source: HU Faculty Profiles.

Source: Official HU Fast Facts 

If you accept their bogus claims of 1022 students and 69 faculty: 1022/69=14.8. That's 15 to 1.  If you use the correct figures of 8 full-time faculty and about 320 students, then 320/8=40. Thats 40 to 1.

Source: Official HU Fast Facts 

The above figure is talking about students. The first class at Harrisburg University in 2005 was 113. Source: Harrisburg University Milestones. 113*5≠1022 also 113*5≠320

Source: Official HU Fast Facts
HU has never been able to explain the origin of this figure. I'm guessing it's as solid as the rest of their figures though.

HU ≠ integrity and honesty.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Harrisburg University to eliminate major science concentrations?

Harrisburg University has recently failed to renew the contract of one of it's full-time senior science faculty due to "financial reasons". This faculty member is our only chemist with an advanced degree and thus the only one qualified to teach advanced chemistry courses such as organic chemistry.

Without a chemist, practically the entire science program at Harrisburg University will be eliminated.  

Programs that require advanced chemistry include:

Biotech
U no can haz science!

Food Safety
General Biotechnology
Nano Biotechnology
Nano Fabrication
Pharmaceutical Design

Integrative Science

Biology concentration
Chemistry concentration
Environmental Science concentration 

Additionally, if students want to be employed in a forensics setting or go to graduate or medical school, they need advanced chemistry.

Our chemist currently teaches in the the most popular program (integrative science) and teaches the heaviest course load in the entire school. The school would need to hire at least three adjuncts just to cover the course load. However, the university cannot hire adjuncts as they are contractually obligated otherwise: If a faculty member is dismissed because of financial problems "the position of the dismissed faculty member will not be filled by a replacement within a period of three years, unless the released faculty member has been offered reinstatement." -HU Faculty Handbook 2.11.2.2 And how would that make sense anyhow? That won't save any money and we'll have adjuncts teaching core science at a STEM school. It's been suggested by administration that Mel Schiavelli will teach organic chemistry, so they seem to be acknowledging that there is still a need for a chemist. However, if that was the case, they are still acting in bad faith as they will still be replacing our faculty member. And who will teach the rest of the classes? Not to mention that Schiavelli hasn't taught a chemistry class in 25 years and he should be fired/retire anyhow.

It's possible that the university is simply acting in bad faith and plans to replace the faculty member with adjuncts. If that is the case, we might as well send the professor out the door with a big fat check and save ourselves the embarrassment of getting sued. It's hard to believe that Harrisburg University is really having financial issues that are so catastrophic that they need to eliminate science faculty. They have given raises, hired new faculty and staff, given promotions and continue to spend money like water for travel and marketing. If money really is the issue, why can't the university kill off something like eBusiness? The program is dead anyhow and it isn't a STEM program. We can can take the director's salary, pay our chemist and have enough left over for catered lunches for everyone. BTW:  Students did petition to keep our chemist, but the Provost treated them with contempt and the Trustees have largely pooh-pooed them.

It's hard to believe that administration could be that stupid (okay, maybe it isn't) but there is additional evidence that Harrisburg university is planning on killing off science.  For example, Harrisburg University's only microbiologist recently left, yet the school has made no efforts to hire a full-time replacement. Our microbiologist was the soul of our Food Safety program and taught many of the Biotech courses. Without a microbiologist, Biotech is dead. As of right now, the number of students taking classes in Biotech next semester is exactly zero. The University did advertise for a director of the food "science" center, but that appears to be another administrative position. They also have an advertisement for a microbiology adjunct, but that hardly seems sufficient to sustain a program.

Also, the school historically does not support the sciences. There is no support for faculty research, they have not hired enough science faculty, the labs are woefully under equipped and there is no program director(s) for the sciences. It's obvious that the school wants to concentrate on technology and business. Just follow the money.

Is Harrisburg University acting in bad faith or are they killing off science? Are they planning on stuffing the  science faculty ranks with adjuncts?

It's time to demand some answers.

* Harrisburg University couldn't survive without our adjuncts. We love them and they do a great job, but we need full-time dedicated faculty to teach core science programs. It makes sense for the students to be taught by education professionals with advanced degrees for these subjects. It's also required for accreditation and by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Experential Learning: Another Harrisburg University gimmick and money grab

If you have been following along you'll, recall I talked about how Harrisburg University is not meeting its mission. You'll probably want to go ahead and give that a quick read before you read this post. Go ahead, we'll wait.

Welcome back. Now on to "experiential learning". Harrisburg University likes to say that often. If you ever want to subject yourself to the Harrisburg University Report of Self Study 2008-09, you'll see the phrase repeated 7 or 8 billion times. Here is an excerpt:

"An experiential educational model has always been and remains at the cornerstone of HU’s mission, values, and approach to higher education. HU’s commitment to experiential learning is exemplified in many documents such as the Catalog, Student Handbook, the University website, and admissions marketing materials for prospective graduate and undergraduate students. It represents the manifestation of HU’s mission to connect students to the corporate community, prepare them for productive careers, and support the development of a 21st century workforce in Central Pennsylvania. In our earliest publications, experiential course requirements were articulated as the “HU Advantage.” This “advantage” was defined as connecting a student's academic experience to the world of work through programs that include applied, hands-on learning experiences..." 

In a nutshell "experiential learning" is doing something to learn about it, rather than reading or studying about it. One of the ways that Harrisburg University does this is by requiring students to complete an internship. The other component of Harrisburg University's experiential learning is the completion of junior and senior projects. This is 6 credits worth of hands-on experience....or it's supposed to be. At an institution that actually does research, students would ask for guidance from faculty in subjects that interest them. For example, if a student was interested aerospace engineering, they would ask someone in the engineering department to help them design a project. Usually this project would be related to what the professor is already researching. Since they students are new to science and research, the professor will help them design a reasonable project and generally allow them access to laboratory equipment. This arrangement benefits everyone. The professor receives help with his/her research and the students get to learn about their specific area of interest in a hands-on environment. You can see the obvious advantages for students that expect to work in science fields such as engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, forensics, pharmacology, biotechnology etc.

Many science-oriented experiential learning institutions also aid the students by running a class which instructs the students how to do proper research and how to choose and execute a project. The professor running the class helps students get their projects off the ground and is available to help the students throughout the semester.  Harrisburg University does not conduct this type of class.

Harrisburg University does not support faculty research either. The scientist that work at HU are teaching course overloads and don't have the time for research. Even if they had time, they still couldn't conduct any serious research as the university does not supply funds or equipment. The research and "advanced centers of science" at Harrisburg University are all fake, so there are no research opportunities there either. Therefore, the students have limited opportunities to engage in actual experiential learning. The Provost has decided to let students simply write term papers for their junior and senior projects. This is pretty much the exact opposite of experiential learning. To be fair, there have been some students that have done some fine projects despite the obstacles. Other students have done some projects that were awful, but that is an institutional failure -- the students did not get the instruction that they were promised or for which they paid. Students are paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $4K for what amounts to the university grading a couple of papers. More importantly, the students are being robbed of the education they deserve and expect.

This is a FUNDAMENTAL FAILURE on a grand scale. Remember, Harrisburg University says experiential learning is the"cornerstone of HU’s mission, values, and approach to higher education." However, it is apparent that our administration does not take experiential learning seriously. And by extension, they don't take education seriously at all, which is deeply ironic considering their vocation. By their actions, they have demonstrated that experiential learning is nothing more than some buzz words, a money grab and a marketing gimmick.

Additionally, the university is at risk of losing accreditation:

"...curricula at institutions of higher education should exhibit ...sufficient content, rigor and depth to be characterized as collegiate." And "An accredited institution is expected to possess educational offerings congruent with its mission... and conducted at levels of rigor appropriate to the programs or degrees offered" -Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education. Requirements of affiliation and standards for accreditation 2009. Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Harrisburg University VP and his gang of youngsters save Harrisburg

Also loves gender reveal parties.
At least this is what you might believe from this article in the local press about the Harrisburg Young Professionals. "RYAN RILEY is associate vice president of development and alumni relations at Harrisburg University and current president of Harrisburg Young Professionals." 

All I'm going to say about this is: Why does Harrisburg University need a VP of alumni relations? If he only called one graduate a day for a year, he could talk to each of them at least three times a year. And his "development" duties are organizing graduation and showing people around the university.

This is just another example of poor management and wasted money from our elitist administration.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An open letter to Congressman Tim Holden

Dear Congressman Holden,

We would like to thank you for your service to Pennsylvania and your interest in science and education. Your national leadership in support of improving education and spurring job creation is also greatly appreciated. We read your press release from October 2011 regarding the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, the National Science Foundation and the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. We want to let you know that you have been hoodwinked. You said “Harrisburg University continues to be a leader in the education and motivation of the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math students. This grant from the National Science Foundation to The Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) project is a smart investment in education and a smart investment in our local and national economy."

It's easy to see how you could think this when Eric Darr the Provost and Executive Vice President of the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology said "I am particularly proud of the SENCER approach to science education...This is another example of how Harrisburg University is not only leading the way when it comes to inspiring and educating science and technology students, it is mapping the route for colleges and universities throughout the United States.

The truth is the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and its SENCER program are only hosted by Harrisburg University. It's true the director, David Burns claims to be a Professor of General Studies at Harrisburg University. However, Mr. Bruns is not engaged with the Harrisburg University community in any way. He has never taught a class at the Harrisburg University, he does not live in Pennsylvania and he teaches at another college in New Jersey. Neither Mr. Burns nor SENCER conducts any research at or with anyone from Harrisburg University. There are no leadership or senior associates at SENCER that are associated with Harrisburg University. No students from Harrisburg University benefit from SENCER in any way. Our local economy does not benefit.

Harrisburg University lists the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) as one of its research centers. SENCER is the NCSCE's signature program. In this way, the NCSCE director feigns professorship at Harrisburg University and receives support for NSF grants and a $160K annual salary. In exchange, Harrisburg University can pretend they have a research center. The university uses the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement as a marketing tool. It has fooled the press, students and others in the capitol region of Pennsylvania. You are in good company.

Those of us in the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology community that have a conscience, would like to apologies to you and let you know that we are mortified and embarrassed by our administration's behavior.

Again, we would like to thank you for your support of the sciences and education, it is our sincere hope that you will continue your efforts for future generations.

Sincerely,
Concerned members of The Harrisburg University of Science community

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tell Governor Corbett: No More $ for Harrisburg University

In 2002 The Pennsylvania legislator set aside $59M for the Harrisburg Polytechnic Institute through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). The Harrisburg Polytechnic Institute later changed its name to The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Governors Rendell and Schweiker released $37M in commonwealth funds to support the university.  

  Pennsylvania Act 2002-131, SB1213
Nearly 750 RACP grants were approved for funding by Governor Rendell. When Governor Corbett took office, his administration began reviewing all of those grants. Governor Corbett is currently "re-releasing" those grants. That is, he is examining and re-approving those grants. Harrisburg University expects an additional $22M from the Commonwealth.

Considering Harrisburg University's current turmoil, it would be folly to release $22M to an administration that clearly lacks financial responsibility. Persistent rumors of serious financial difficulties, dwindling student enrollment, bloated administrative salaries and drastic staff reductions (HU fired 5-7 employees in the past few years for "financial reasons") are serious concerns. Additionally, there are rumors of enormous administrative expense accounts, catered lunches, and all-expense-paid vacations. It's possible that Harrisburg University will simply lose accreditation and go out of business. Why throw good money after bad? Most universities operate on the principle of financial transparency, usually supporting a faculty budgetary committee. Not surprisingly, the Provost, do-nothing President and absentee trustees have refused to act responsibly and with transparency. Harrisburg University currently does not deserve taxpayer money. Only under a new administration and a new attitude of transparency, do they deserve financial support from the taxpayer.

What can you do?

You can contact Governor Corbett (email) and voice your disapproval for releasing funds to an indulgent administration. Or you can visit, phone or snail mail: Governor's Office, 225 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120 Phone: (717) 787-2500.

You can also contact your local legislator and alert them of the issue.

You can also contact Senator Piccola Harrisburg Office, Room 173, Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120, (717) 787-6801, 1-888-PICCOLA

What do you want?

If the administration will never allow a town meeting, then what is the HU community to do. How do we make ourselves heard and get results? You are absolutely correct about the state this school is in. Who can we get to take us seriously and actually do something before we pass the point of no return? Plus how do we know who to trust in this situation? HELP! -Anonymous, November 18, 2011 1:44 AM

Hello Anonymous! You are stronger than you think. Just about everything on the blog is public information. The sources are cited and in most cases there are direct links to the sources. I've only helped you put it all together, but you should not take my word for anything. Be experts, it's your school.

Since most of this stuff is out in the open now, administration will have time to spin like crazy. If you as students ask pointed question and demand pointed factual answers, its hard for them to spin. If you insist on answers in writing, it's impossible to spin and get away with it.
You want a town meeting? Set one up on your terms. Invite the interested parties --those that show up have an interest in you as students, those that don't are hiding something.  They work for you. Don't forget that. They work for you.

The first question you have to ask is "What do you want'?

I can tell you want I want. I want the president to step down before he embarrasses himself and the school anymore. I want the provost to be fired. I want an experienced provost that is education centered. I want the administration to stop grossly overpaying themselves. I want the school to get back on track and be a STEM school we all want it to be. I want the trustees to get their heads out of their asses and take some action. I want the faculty to set their differences aside and act like professionals instead of self-serving complacent bitches. I want someone in administration that will advocate for academics. I want someone in administration that will concentrate on fixing retention and advocate for students. I want shared governance --students, staff and faculty all have a right to be involved in decisions that affect them.

What do you want? Make you voice be heard. Drop Robert Dolan, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees a note: robertdolan@conradsiegel.com. Sam Benigni is the Faculty Chair: sbenigni@HarrisburgU.edu

If you want my humble opinion, I'd wait a little while before going to the press. I'd suggest you continue to build a strong student government organization and demand action from the trustees. I'd suggest you solicit the support of parents, staff and faculty. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Editorial

Anonymous said... "Who ever wrote this all needs to come forward and stop being a coward. Without you we have no hard evidence, all we have is a blog with statements that seem to be backed up....we need you to come forward and talk to the students directly or the news or NOTHING will ever get done about this all!" - November 17, 2011 12:00 PM

Hello Anonymous! I applaud your courage and passion. I know I usually post facts and figures and references sprinkled with some lame humor, but at the heart of it, I do it because I care about Harrisburg University. I care about the people that work here and I have a sincere and passionate interest in the success and the wellbeing of the students. Nothing would make me happier then to see Harrisburg University meet its mission and help students launch great careers. We could all be part of something great.

Sadly, the university is failing badly before it ever had a chance to get established. It got off track and never made a course correction. The problems really began when the reigns were handed to the Provost, who is business oriented rather than education oriented. This is why Harrisburg University appears to be a fantastic place; it has focused all of its efforts and finances on marketing. We have a fancy building, we have lots of overpaid administrators with bloated titles and credentials. We have flashy virtualspheres and many advanced centers of "science".  What we don't have are solid academic programs and research centers that meet our mission.

"The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is an independent educational institution offering academic and research programs in mathematics, science, and technology designed to meet the needs of the region's youth, workforce, and businesses, and to expand, attract, and create economic opportunities in the region."

Take special note of "...offering academic and research programs in mathematics, science, and technology." Harrisburg University doesn't even have a mathematician and there is no serious research at Harrisburg University. Have you been to our labs? They are equipped at a high school level. How can faculty conduct any real science research? How can faculty conduct research when there are only a handful of actual scientists and they all teach heavy course overloads? Why doesn't Harrisburg University stop wasting money on dead programs (I'm looking at you "e"Business) and hire more scientists, support research and equip the labs? Unfortunately, it's because good science programs don't get the kind or press that fake science centers and "social media blackouts" do.

Harrisburg University is dead on the inside. There is no passion, there is no sense of community. The faculty is fractured, the staff keep their heads down and the students come and go so fast we hardly get to know them. So what can we do? There is no mechanism to fix things through normal channels.

But I still think there is hope. There are finally enough students on campus that have been around long enough to stand up for themselves. Seriously you guys, how long are you going to put up with the bullshit? Every year it's the same thing: You hate the Registrar because she isn't helpful and lacks normal human interaction skills, you recognize that some faculty members are horrible, you are tired of your financial aid getting screwed up,  you are stuck taking six credit general education "Mind" courses and nobody can figure out exactly what your tuition bill should be. Every year some students go to the Provost to complain and every year he nods his head and seemingly agrees and then send the students on their way.  Many students become frustrated and leave. A crazy number of students leave after the very first semester.

You might not believe it, but YOU, the student, have the power to fix things. You want help? Just ask! There are others in the Harrisburg University community that will definitely support you. You should have figured out by now that talking to administration is pointless unless you like bullshit and empty promises. I know many of you have been calling for a town meeting, but you will never witness the whole town assemble. Administration will never allow students, faculty and trustees to be in the same room together. Administration can only lie to one group at a time.

This blog is a way for a faction of us on the inside to get you information. We want you to know that what is happening at Harrisburg University is not even close to normal. We want you to know that this blog is just one way we are fighting for ourselves and fighting for you. But how far do we take it? I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that the school could easily lose accreditation and simply fail. Then where will we be? Frankly, the school is headed that way anyway. The President lies, the Provost is incompetent, the general education is terrible, the institution is not properly staffed, the enrollment is down, the retention rates are down and a hundred other problems. How long before we are all out of jobs and students have worthless degrees and credits?

And the truth is that those of us that are faculty and staff at Harrisburg University have let you down. I sincerely apologize. We prostituted ourselves for the sakes of our jobs. We have an ethical and professional responsibility to stand up for students and the institution.We are afraid. We don't want to lose our jobs -- we have mortgages and kids to feed. It's true that the university should have never put us in this position, but we should not have let them.

With that said, nobody will ever admit to writing this blog. The person(s) writing this blog would be immediately fired, sued and according to Darr -- arrested [insert mocking laughter here]. How will that help anyone? The blog is about getting you information and not about the author(s). That's all this blog is, just a source of information and bad jokes. If you really want help, find us, we'll stand with you this time. I promise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Harrisburg University spends $6000 per student in administration costs for one year. President, Provost highest paid, worst performing.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is a system of survey components that collects data from nearly 7,000 institutions that provide postsecondary education across the United States. IPEDS collects institution-level data on students (enrollment and graduation rates), student charges, program completions, faculty, staff, and finances.These data are used at the federal and state level for policy analysis and development; at the institutional level for benchmarking and peer analysis; and by students and parents, through the College Navigator, to aid in the college search process.

Every year an IPEDS Feedback Report is sent to each institution's administration. The Data Feedback Report is intended to provide institutions a context for examining the data they submitted to IPEDS. The goal is to produce a report that is useful to institutional executives and that may help improve the quality and comparability of IPEDS data.

In other words, in order for the school to gauge how they are doing, they can see what/how similar schools are doing. For Harrisburg University the characteristics include Carnegie Classification of Baccalaureate Colleges--Arts & Sciences, private not-for-profit and enrollment of a similar size. The 26 schools are:

Source: 2011 IPEDS HUST Feedback Report

I examined the data from other institutions in Harrisburg University's peer group. You can find the information at Guidestar and the College Navigator. Here is what I found in the Key Employees and Highest Compensated Individuals section of each institution's Form 990 coupled with current retention rates:

American Jewish University (Los Angeles, CA): Compensation: President $205K, VP $188K, VP $150K. Retention rate: 100%

Beacon College (Leesburg, FL): Compensation: President $145K, VP $46K, Treasurer $34K, no other administrators. Retention rate: 82%

Bryn Athyn College (Bryn Athyn, PA): Compensation: President $188K, VP $190K, no other administration. Retention rate: 71%

Burlington College (Burlington, VT): Compensation: President $165K, no other administrators. Retention rate: 40%

Pine Manor College (Chestnut Hill, MA): Compensation: President $198K, no other administrators. Retention rate: 65%

Shimer College (Chicago, IL): Compensation: President $236K, COO/CFO $69K, no other administrators. Retention rate: 70%

Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, CA): President $106K, no other administrators. Retention rate: 92%

Wesleyan College (Macon, GA): Presidnet $46K (yes the figure is correct), VP $144K, VP $106K, VP $80K, Controller $57K. Retention Rate 78%

You can look up the others if you like. I'm sure you get the idea. Most of Harrisburg University's peers budget a few hundred thousand a year for administration. Some more and some less.  So how did Harrisburg University do? The most recent data we have is from 2009 when HUST had a total enrollment of 215 (IPEDS Feedback Report 2009).

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (Harrsiburg, PA): Compensation: President $237K, Provost $229K, VP of Finance $157K, Director of NCSCE $158K(See footnote 1), Director $132K (see footnote 2), Director $123K (see footnote 3), Associate Provost $116K, Director $112K (see footnote 4). Retention rate: 34%

Footnote 1: David Burns is a "professor of general studies at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology".  Although he has never conducted a single class. Apparently he has time to be a Director at HUST's expense, teach at another college in New Jersey and be the principle investigator for SENCER. He doesn't even live in Pennsylvania. I've never even seen him on campus. Have you?

Footnote 2: The Executive Director of  Harrisburg University's Center for Advanced Entertainment & Learning Technologies/Associate Professor of Multimedia at Harrisburg University does not hold an advanced degree. His Associate Professor title is wholly honorary as he lacks the credentials and he didn't earn the rank.

Footnote 3: The Director of Learning Technologies and Assistant Professor of Learning Technologies at Harrisburg University does not have a Ph.D, but he does have a business degree. He's supposed to teach graduate studies, but that would be a no-no for someone without a terminal degree.

Footnote 4: The Director of the Management and eBusiness degree program and the Information Systems Engineering and Management (ISEM) programs at Harrisburg University does have a Ph.D, he also apparently has time to teach at another university, run his own business, self-publish books and do some outside consulting. 

Let me say emphatically that this is not a personal attack on the directors, it's an attack on the absurdity of their positions. None of the programs are STEM programs and they were all championed by our idiot Provost as part of his Sandusky management style. (You know, the management style where he screws the students.) He clearly has no idea what he is doing. We have one director who is MIA, two directors that aren't exactly qualified and one director who works part time. And they all make six figures. And an Assistant Provost? Seriously? For what? Our Provost who made $229K couldn't handle 215 students? Is he an idiot?

Harrisburg University has the highest paid president and provost of all the peer schools and the largest administration staff. Harrisburg University spent over $1,260,000 just on the top administrators. And that's not even including other VPs and directors. That means Harrisburg University spent over $6000 per student for a single year in administration costs. Is it paying off? Nope. Harrisburg University has the lowest retention rate of the group and declining enrollment, both strong indications of a failing institution.


We need to oust this administration.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How the Provost screws every single Harrisburg Univeristy freshman.

No, I'm not suggesting he does a Sandusky (too early for that joke?) I'm talking about how he's taking thousands of dollars from students and they don't even know about it until it's too late.

As many of you recall, last year I mentioned the university's practice of only allowing freshmen students to take 13 credits. I said something along the lines of "great big fat ripoff". It's a new year and once again student's are facing the sobering reality that the university has unfairly taken thousands of dollars out of their pockets. This is what you will see in the catalog:


Source: HUST Catalog 2011-12

The school is publishing that students can take 12 to 17 credits for $11,250 a semester, but that is patently false. The Provost has instituted a policy restricting freshman to a maximum of 13 credits in their first semester without officially listing the policy. Not only is this practice unethical, it actually illegal.

PA Code § 31.32. Catalog and announcements. "(a) An institution’s current catalog and official publications, as appropriate, must describe accurately the institution’s policies...(b) The catalog shall make explicit tuition costs and fees for which students will be charged..." You will not find any mention of any policy that limits freshman to 13 credits in their first semester in the official HUST catalog or student handbook.

Students that take 17 credits per semester are charged $662 per credit ( $11,250/17=$662 ). At 13 credits, students are paying $865 per credit ($11,250/13=$865). Freshman in their first semester pay $200 a credit more than other undergraduates. Let me put it to you another way: Students are paying $5200 for one general education class such as The Creative Mind (that fact alone should make every student feel deeply violated). As I see it, the university owes each 2011-12 freshman four credits or $2648.00 ($662*4). I feel ripped off and I'm not even a freshman.

It gets worse though. As freshmen are limited to 13 credits in their first semester, they are still freshman even after completing their first year.  That's right, if freshman students followed their prescribed program schedules, they will not have the 30 credits they need to be considered sophomores. Students are classified by the number of semester hours completed:

Freshman: fewer than 30 semester hours earned.
Sophomore: greater than or equal to 30 semester hours earned but less than 60.
Junior: greater than or equal to 60 semester hours earned but less than 90.
Senior: greater than or equal to 90 semester hours earned.

In some cases, students will always be classified a year behind. Consider:

Geo-spatial program HUST Catalog 2010-11


So what?

Ah, I'm glad you asked. Financial aid is based on a student's classification. For example:

HUST catalog, 2010-11
Additionally, if a student is required to take a non-credit course like Math 081, they will be even further behind their proper classification and it would be very difficult to graduate in four years.

The 13 credit policy was developed by and instituted by the Provost as a means to curb   Harrisburg University's horrific retention rate. If he was even slightly qualified for his job, he would have known it was a bad idea. Heck, I'm just a blogger and I knew it was just plain stupid. Instead of taking a logical approach to addressing retention such as higher admission standards, a general education program that isn't complete garbage and controlling tuition, the Provost's idea to get students to come back for their sophomore year is to make their first year really easy. Seriously, this guy is a fucking idiot.

The result of the Provost's big plan?

1) The university essentially steals a few thousand $ from students.
2) The university is in violation of Pennsylvania law.
3) Students lose out on thousands of $ in financial aid.

What can students do? First you should ask the Provost to compensate you for your lost aid and your lost credits. You should do this in writing. If you don't get satisfaction, you still have a few other avenues open to you.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) will accept all written and signed complaints against colleges, universities and seminaries certified to operate in Pennsylvania that may adversely affect students or consumers. You can find them at 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126, (717)-783-6788. You can find the complaint form here (PDF).

Another option would be to file a formal complaint with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Middle States is the accrediting body at HUST. Accreditation is extremely important to   Harrisburg University and as such, all complaints will be taken very seriously. You can find the complaint form here (MS Word document).

If you paid your tuition with student loans from the U.S. Department of Education, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. You can find an on-line complaint form here.

You can file a complaint with Pennsylvania Attorney General. The AG deals with consumer issues of fraud and deception.  Bureau of Consumer Protection, 14th Floor, Strawberry Square,Harrisburg, PA 17120, (717) 787-9707. You can find a complaint form here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Absentee Board of Trustees?

I know many of you are thinking "What can I do?" And "Why hasn't someone done something already?"

The first thing you need to do is recognize that the day to day operations of the university are conducted by the Provost. It will become obvious to you very quickly that Mel "Do Nothing" Schiavelli is not interested in you one bit unless you are bringing a nice catered lunch up to the 14th floor. If you go to Schiavelli with a problem, he'll more than likely just tell you to talk to the Provost. Of course, the Provost is notorious for his arrogance toward staff, faculty and students. So good luck there. It's pretty clear the the President and Provost are part of, if not THE problem at Harrisburg University. So what then?

The Board of Trustees have power over the President and Provost, but to date, they have been unavailable to anyone but the Provost and the President. I find it disconcerting that information about the school is filtered through the President and Provost before it reaches the trustees. I understand the trustees don't want to be bothered with routine issues like grades and parking spaces, but they should be available to the Harrisburg University community to address serious grievances. If those serious grievances are against the President or Provost, then it would be a clear conflict of interest for them to present the grievance to the Board. So how about it trustees? Can you please talk directly to students, faculty and staff?

What exactly has to happen before The Board of Trustees acts?! We have huge turn-over in employees, disgruntled current employees, declining student enrollment, horrifying retention rates, are not following our mission, alleged nepotism, seriously questionable public communications,  unqualified administrators and a president that spews factual errors.

To the Trustees:

You are obligated to the the entire community to take action. You are obligated to the students that have years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars in debt invested in Harrisburg University , You are obligated to the taxpayers that have millions of dollars invested in your institution. You are obligated to the businesses of Harrisburg that have invested their time and money to make Harrisburg University a reality. You owe it to the staff and faculty who have dedicated countless hours to making Harrisburg University a real school. You are obligated to the City of Harrisburg and the Harrisburg School District that has given substantial funds to the university. All of us are counting on you to DO SOMETHING. Why does a blogger have to point this stuff out publicly? If you took action, this blog wouldn't even exist!

 Harrisburg University's accrediting body requires that the Board of Trustees: Allow "appropriate opportunity for student input regarding decisions that affect them" and conduct "periodic assessment of the effectiveness of institutional leadership and governance." -Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, Requirements of Affiliation and Standards of Accreditation 2009

"The governing body is ultimately accountable for the academic quality, fiscal and academic integrity, academic planning, assets, and financial health of the institution...Always the advocate, and when necessary, the defender of the institution, the governing body is responsible for the institution's integrity and quality." -Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, Requirements of Affiliation and Standards of Accreditation 2009

Monday, November 7, 2011

Has Harrisburg University Failed their Mission?

You've probably heard that The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is a "STEM" school, but what is that really?

 “STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy."-Tsupros, N., R. Kohler, and J. Hallinen, 2009. STEM education: A project to identify the missing components.


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and  Mathematics) education is not really anything new, although it represents a shift in how science education is being conducted. Good science educators have know all along that hands-on cross-discipline education was the most effective way to reach students. When your 8th grade science teacher had you building model rockets before your trip to the Space Museum, you were participating in STEM education. You learned about math and physics, aerospace engineering, chemistry and how those sciences were applied in the real world.

How would the STEM philosophy apply at a school like Harrisburg University? Lets say Harrisburg University had a relationship with The Space Corporation who built satellite delivery systems. Harrisburg University educators could tailor make a program that could include building a model rocket delivery system, computer modeling a rocket system, and developing efficient and safe rocket propellant. The students would be able to utilize math, physics, chemistry and computer technology in a real world environment. The Space Corporation would financially support the program and offer internships to the students. Everybody wins. The students get an excellent education and a good job, The Space Corporation gets well prepared employees and the local economy gets taxpayers and consumers.

This was the basic idea behind   Harrisburg University. This idea is reflected in Harrisburg University's Mission Statement "The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is an independent educational institution offering academic and research programs in mathematics, science, and technology designed to meet the needs of the region's youth, workforce, and businesses, and to expand, attract, and create economic opportunities in the region."

So what approach has HUST taken towards STEM education? Well, they invested heavily in and hired directors for Entertainment & Learning Technologies, "e"Business and Management and more Learning Technologies. Check out the director's salaries:

Only the President, Provost and CFO make more than the directors.

Go ahead, take a minute, we'll wait.

Harrisburg University directors have a critical job: "Since HU intentionally does not have a departmental structure, program leaders represent the structured, interdisciplinary substitute for traditional departmental chairs. They are responsible for curriculum quality, recruitment of members of the corporate community to advisory groups and as members of the corporate faculty, and the building of linkages among programs at HU. They are expected to make manifest HU’s commitment to the teaching-focused, career competency, interdisciplinary learning model arising from HU’s mission and sustainability model."-HUST Report of Self-Study 2008-09

It's a good thing  the other STEM directors balance out the curriculum and support the science component of Harrisburg University.  The Director of Science, the Director of Mathematics and The Director of Engineering have all been working hard to insure that HUST students get a solid science-based education.

Nah, I'm just kidding, there are no science directors.  It's pretty clear that "STEM" is only a marketing tool for HUST, not a serious commitment.

There is nothing wrong with Entertainment & Learning Technologies, "e"Business and Management and more Learning Technologies, they may very well have their place at a STEM school, but they, in themselves, are not STEM programs (The NSF defines STEM as biological sciences; physical sciences, including physics, chemistry, astronomy, and materials science; mathematical sciences; computer and information sciences; geosciences and engineering and technology areas associated with the preceding fields.) The Provost has also championed Digital Health, Entrepreneurship, Information & Communication Technologies, Interactive Media Management and Management. None of them are appropriate for Harrisburg University.

These programs may have a place at a STEM school, but not one that has yet to fully staff and equip its STEM programs. The school should be concentrating on solid, basic SCIENCE. You know, the kind of thing you might find at a school that claims to be a teach science, technology, engineering, and  mathematics. (James Madison has a real STEM school if you are curious.) How are students to apply science if they don't understand the basics first?


" [Harrisburg University is] based on the simple but grand concept of creating a private, undergraduate and graduate degree granting, not-for-profit, and, above all....not a 4-year technical college..." -HUST Report of Self-Study 2008-09

"HU is ....not a technical institute." -HUST Report of Self-Study 2008-09



Despite those words, Harrisburg University has indeed become a technical institute. The school has simply failed it's mission. 



Sunday, November 6, 2011

HUST Outright Lies to their Accrediting Body

"With regard to retention, the University’s effectiveness in retaining first-time students from first to second year is on par with other four-year institutions. Between fall 2007 and fall 2008 the overall headcount retention rate at HU for first-time students was 78%  compared to the national average as reported by ACT of 72% for BS/MS institutions."-Harrisburg University of Science and Technology Report of Self-Study 2008-09, pg 6-7.

Source: IPEDS Data Feedback Report 2009
HUST's actual retention rate in the Fall of 2008 for full-time students was 36% and 16% for part-time students. HUST has never had a retention rate of 78%. 

Certainly Mel "Do Nothing" Schiavelli was aware of or should have been aware of the actual retention rates, since the IPEDS Data Feedback Report from The National Centers for Education Statistics is sent directly to him. The Provost (Eric Darr) and Director of Institutional Compliance and Research (Keith "Useless" Green) had an obligation to know and had or should have had knowledge of the correct figures.

The goal of the HU self-study was to “examine comprehensively the programs, services, processes and resources of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology through its employees, students, and Board of Trustees in order to demonstrate that it meets or exceeds the standards set forth by the MSCHE in the Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education (2006).” -Harrisburg University of Science and Technology Report of Self-Study 2008-09 pg 2-1.

That's right, HUST used patently false information to convince their accrediting body (Middle States Commission on Higher Education) that they deserved accreditation.

Why does it matter? "In all its activities, whether internal or external, an institution should keep its promises, honor its contracts and commitments, and represent itself truthfully." - Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, Requirements of Affiliation and Standards for Accreditation 2009. Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Failure to meets these standards puts the university at a real risk of losing accreditation.

CONNECT Campaign Falls $20,271,112 short.

 HUST states "Harrisburg University’s inaugural comprehensive fundraising campaign, CONNECT: The Campaign for Harrisburg University, set an ambitious goal of $40 million. As of May 12, 2011, the University has raised $44,728,888 million in The CONNECT Campaign. The $40 million fund-raising campaign was launched July 1, 2006 and it is scheduled to conclude by June 30, 2011." They make much the same claims in press releases.

When an institution seeks to become accredited, they must conduct a "self-study" to explain, in part, why and how they expect to become fiscally sound.  HUST wrote in their self-study "The University’s major gifts campaign entitled CONNECT is a comprehensive multi-year fundraising effort charged with securing a total of $65MM in cash and commitments prior to June 30, 2011. Publicly launched in November 2006 with an original goal of $40MM, the effort has successfully utilized a peer solicitation strategy (overseen by the Campaign Committee of the Board of Trustees), a broad media and marketing campaign, and aggressive gift requests that allowed the University to surpass the original goal after only two years. Total gifts and commitments to the CONNECT Campaign total $43.1MM as of December 31, 2008." -Harrisburg University of Science and Technology Report of Self-Study 2008-09.

Between 2008 and June 30, 2011, HUST managed to raise a paltry $1.6MM, making the HUST campaign some $20MM short of  what they told the Middle States Commission on Higher Education they expected.

Mel "Do Nothing" Schiavelli: Does Something

I've noticed that Mel "Do Nothing" Schiavelli seems to actually do something: make a lot of factual misstatements. You'll notice that errors are always in the favor of the university, so it's difficult to believe that they are not intentional misstatements. Judge for yourself.

" ....presently we have 300 students" - M.  Schiavelli, Q & A with Jeff Wendt, Today's Campus November 2008.  Total enrollment for the 2007-08 academic year was 215. (Source: IPEDS Data Feedback Report 2009)

"HU President Mel Schiavelli said the university's ever-expanding student body, now in excess of 800, is clamoring for more places to buy groceries and other services such as dry cleaning." - Central Penn Business Journal, Aug 2011.  And "We opened our doors to 113 students in August 2005. Now we serve more than 1,000 students a year." - Seven1Seven Soul Radio Nov 2011. Actual total student enrollment was 373. (IPEDS Data Feedback Report 2011)



"...we employ professors who've left tenure and tenure-eligible jobs..." - M.  Schiavelli, Q & A with Jeff Wendt, Today's Campus November 2008. "Of the original dozen full-time instructors....hired, all left tenured positions to take untenured ones at HU. Only two have exited, by their choice"- Accuracy in Academia,  Hope and Change in Harrisburg.

Here is the list of faculty at Harrisburg University in 2005, Dr. Cannon was the only professor with tenure. None of the others had tenure or where on a tenure track. Half of them are no longer working at HUST.

Source: http://www.harrisburgu.net 11/26/2005


“Of the 115 graduates we've had so far, 106 were employed after graduation in their field of study.”   - M.  Schiavelli, Accuracy in Academia,  Hope and Change in Harrisburg. This is a variation of "92 percent of the students are employed in their fields of study at graduation" (Op-Ed  Huntington News) claims Schiavelli has been making for some time now. Those numbers are outrageously high and very suspect.   Schiavelli has declined to cite a source for these figures. I'll be happy to mea culpa if someone at HUST would send along a copy of the study that verifies Schiavelli's claims.

When asked "What is your retention rate?" Schiavelli replied "We vary from 72 percent to 76 percent. It's been fairly constant since we opened in 2005."   NewsPage, Today's Campus 2010.  Retention rate for the 2007-08 academic year was only 16% for part-time students and 36% for full-time students. (Source: IPEDS Data Feedback Report 2009)  For the 2006-07 academic year, retention rates were 50% for part-time students and 54% for full-time students. (Source: IPEDS Data Feedback Report 2008)

Why does it matter? "In all its activities, whether internal or external, an institution should keep its promises, honor its contracts and commitments, and represent itself truthfully.- Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, Requirements of Affiliation and Standards for Accreditation 2009. Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Failure to meets these standards puts the university at a real risk of losing accreditation.



Friday, November 4, 2011

How did Harrisburg University of Science and Technology Spend money in 2009?

The most recent public financial statements available are for 2009. What happened in 2009? Most notably for students, tuition was increased by $3250.00.  The school really needed that money, right? So they spent it responsibly, right? You decide.

Lobbying.  

$273,240 to recruit new students. That's about $3500 per student.


Almost $72,000 in bonus for officers. Raise tuition, get a bonus?