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:

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 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.


  1. Dear HU student body,
    So it seems that HU is getting their town meeting next week. I hope that this ends up doing some good. Some of us are concerned that this is going to turn into a circus and end up getting nowhere. The last thing we need is for the student body to look bad by this turning into one gigantic bitch-fest. So PLEASE; anyone that has an issue that they want to be addressed, keep it PROFESSIONAL and stick to the FACTS. The calmer and more organized we can stay the better off we will be. If you don't want to follow these simple guidelines or simply can't contain yourself then do all the rest of us a favor and stay the fuck away from this meeting.
    A student who cares about the future of this school

  2. I am GLAD to hear that you want to eliminate eBusiness, but I have one question. Since I am one of the students in this major, will you or the school reimbursement me for my time? I love this major and I enjoy the material. Also, this major has grown since 09. So if my opportunity for obtaining a degree is sucked out from underneath me does that obligate me to a refund of my time and funds.

  3. I'm calling for fiscal responsibility and transparency, not the elimination of any programs. If the HU community decides that eBusiness should stay, then it should. All of HU's programs should be evaluated by the HU community on a regular basis -- it is a new school after all. Right now eBusiness should stay, but the overpaid part-time director should be fired.

  4. Anonymous you are only proving the point at hand here. You are worried that if your degree classes you love so much gets cut you have lost time and money. Well how do you think people in science courses feel. I love science and everything about it. This is not called "Harrisburg University Institute of Technology and Business" Science courses should be advancing in the same way business courses are. I want to know when I leave here, my science degree means something, just like you. Tuition has increased DRAMATICALLY over the last FEW years. WHY THE HELL AM I WORKING IN A LAB WITH NO CHEMICALS OTHER THAN ACETONE AND DISTILLED WATER?? Nitrogen knobs havent been used in general labs for years. So, not that Im not glad your doing so damn well in E-bizz, there are a lot of people getting jipped behind all of this mess.

  5. Wa Ching said " Our microbiologist was the soul of our Food Safety program and taught many of the Biotech courses."
    For the record, as far as I know, our "microbioligist" has never even taught microbiology at HU. That class has been pawned off on adjunct faculty (both of whom were very good) for the past 2 years. Honestly the departure of said microbioligist is no big loss. She spent all of her time in the "chocolate closet" and was a terrible professor at any rate.

  6. I agree that we are getting taken in the sciences at HU. I love my professors tho, they could not be nicer or more helpful. Why don't the labs have any equipment? Why aren't their chemicals? Why would you even want to get rid of our professors? Why are you getting rid of one of the few professor who challenge us and teach us real science? Why do we have to fight for everything. Can't we just get what we pay for?

  7. A Student said...
    "Why don't the labs have any equipment?"
    I can tell you why. Because our esteemed provost has decided that the cost to upkeep or repair equipment is way too expensive. That's the kind of bullshit being shoveled by the 14th floor.