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.
Concerned members of The Harrisburg University of Science community