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? 


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.


  1. What happened to the millions of dollars from the connect campaign?

  2. This school is a joke.

  3. Why have the president and provost not been removed?! How bad doesit have to be?

  4. I think the administration is just making it up so they can fire people. I mean otherwise it would be fraud for all the students and new people that they hire wouldn't it? I don't know what is worse lying leaders or being backrupt.