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

17 comments:

  1. I hope they do something. Would it hurt to at least talk to the faculty and students?

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  2. HU is going to lose accreditation. If just one student files a complaint, the whole school could be in trouble. Does this not concern anyone other than a blogger?

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  3. Like it or not, the Provost has been a necessary counter-weight/check when on occasion an employee loses perspective and steps over a line. He does take the time to listen. Ironically, he is far and away the most "pro-student" employee at the school. Bar none. Overlooking this significant contribution by the Provost weakens your analysis, suggesting, among other things, you are cherry-picking in your characterizations.

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  4. If by "pro-student" you mean the Provost pushes the faculty to pass every student in every class, regardless of academic integrity, then yes, you are correct.

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  5. The story isn't about the Provost's personality. It's about his performance as a leader. Since it is clear that the institution is wallowing, the Provost must accept responsibility. If he's a true advocate for the students, I'm sure he'll have no problem letting them speak to the Board of Trustees. Right?

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  6. "The story isn't about the Provost's personality. It's about his performance as a leader."

    Precisely. And the School WOULD be wallowing without his "pro-student" perspective.

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  7. I'd love to speak to the Board of Trustees, but my take on things is at significant variance with your own. As I've written in the past, if anything, the Provost is too nice to the Faculty.

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  8. In contradistinction with what has been suggested elsewhere in both the postings and, even more, the comments, most of the classes I had at HUS&T were rigorous. The tests and/or homework in the biology, biotechnology, math (calculus I and II) and physics (I and II)(despite the absence of a glossary in the text) classes – and the chemistry classes to the extent I had them -- were demanding and, straightforwardly, I think I could go toe-to-toe in these subjects with students graduating from any other school in the country. In fact, based upon discussions with students from other schools I have been encountering in my grad-school interviews, I know I, for one, received a superior education. Academically, I feel very well prepared for graduate school. Never underestimate the advantage of highly favorable student:faculty/staff ratios. I was lucky to attend HUS&T at its inception.

    As another example, I reviewed tapes of the current basic physics classes at MIT and our classes were very very similar to what was being taught at MIT. To the point where the demonstrations and examples were exactly the same.

    To an appreciable degree, what a student derives from his/her education depends upon the motivation of the student.

    That doesn’t mean the School’s lab components can’t improve, but I have every confidence that they will. Even here, at least one Professor has gone to great lengths to self-design and self-build quality labs.

    As noted elsewhere, the one area I would stress that needs improvement is: communication. For this, my expectation is that such improvement is not the direct responsibility of the Provost, but rather, I would urge the new Director of Academic Success to make this a priority.



    The story isn't about the Provost's personality. It's about his performance as a leader.

    Precisely. Without the Provost’s balancing act the School WOULD be wallowing.


    I'm sure he'll have no problem letting them speak to the Board of Trustees. Right?

    I’d love to talk to the Board, by my understandings are at appreciable variance with your own. The last time students were permitted to address the Board, they were cherry-picked by the very faculty members who complain the most.

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  9. By the way, while underappreciated by both the students and Faculty, I think the ‘Stone classes are critical and are an excellent supplement to the Academic component of the curriculum.

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  10. I'm not knocking the students and I'm not knocking the faculty. Many of the programs, particularly information science and integrative science are indeed rigorous. If you graduate with a degree from either, you earned it. The school should be focusing their energy on those programs since they fit the mission.

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  11. "Precisely. Without the Provost’s balancing act the School WOULD be wallowing."

    Yeah, the Provost is doing great! Hired his "alleged" girlfriend for a job she's not qualified for, retention rates in the basement, student enrollment down, huge staff turn over, three six figure directors of dead programs. I'd hate to see what would happen if he was doing a bad job!

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  12. If the Provosts likes you, he'll give you the world, which is why the school is full of Yes Men (and a Yes Woman too!) The school needs less Eric ass-kissers and more integrity. He can't make a decision we he needs too and he pits staff and faculty against each other. He is wholly useless.

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  13. A quickie, if I may, rather off-point. I interviewed at a place that uses MRI machines extensively as they investigate Alzheimer’s. As part of the discussion, I brought up ‘prions’ and the scientist – who, per the writings associated with his name, is taking a different tack in his research – had no concept (I swear) that some scientists think there might be a connection between prions and Alzheimer’s. I’m not going to go so far as to suggest that this anecdote summarizes the education at HUS&T vs. the World, but it did rattle me a little about what is really going on out there.

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  14. Darr's alleged girlfriend was given a promotion at the same time the Board of Trustees declared financial exigency (that's like saying they are bankrupt, but not publicly). Enrollment is down, retention is down, the President can't say anything factual and the Provost is morally corrupt. Where the fuck are you board of trustees?

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  15. Lou: You're an idiot.

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  16. Somebody isd selling strait dope. All we hear from wa wa are complaints from wth worst teachers and the petjerks. Crazy! how they complain about romanceing. Wa wa only talks to his petjeks and they yak they can’t do just what they want and everyone else is shit. Wa and his gang of petjerks are full of shit. Fuk the wa gang.

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  17. Dr Darr and Dr Shiavelli are obviously both truth impaired. No wonder they don't want anyone to talk to the board but them.

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