Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Harrisburg University Hates America

It's bad enough that Harrisburg University can't be honest with students, the general public and an occasional congressman. Apparently, they have decided to just go all in and tell some great big fat ones to the nation's leading scientists, engineers and the President of the United States. I know, sounds ridiculous right?

The Central Penn Business Journal reports "Harrisburg University of Science and Technology was recognized as an effective program to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics undergraduate education by a White House advisory council." You can find the report here. If you go to page 95 of the report you will see this:

Source: Report to the President Engaged to Excel 2011
Notice the last bit? "Source: Based on PCAST Working Group on Undergraduate STEM education discussions with Mel Shiavelli, President, Harrisburg University for Science and Technology, May 2011, and data from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology website."

Oh great! So the recognition that the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology bestowed upon Harrisburg University was based on what Shiavelli told them?! We have already talked about his reliability (see here). And the web site? That's about as reliable as Shiavelli (see here).

Let's take a closer look:

The first paragraph states: "The Harrisburg University for Science and Technology (HU)...has grown from 100 to 722 students since 2005". We have seen how Harrisburg University continues to be deceptive about it's enrollment numbers (see here). Actual student enrollment is less than 400, there has never been 722 students enrolled at Harrisburg University.

Paragraph 2: "Corporate partners advise on course design." What really? Name one course.

Paragraph 3: "An executive search firm helps new students define career paths, and each has a business mentor". Umm yeah, that's another lie. There is no "executive search firm" -- career advisement is done in-house by a single employee.

Also in paragraph 3: "Each student builds an “e-portfolio” that includes performance, comments from faculty, and measures of civic engagement." That sounds cool, too bad students don't do that anymore.

Paragraph 4: "Of its original 100 students, 92 were hired into the fields they studied, with salaries of $50,000 to $60,000 per year, according to Mel Schiavelli, President of HU." That's a WHOPPER! Harrisburg university can't retain students for more than about 10 minutes, so it should be obvious to even a casual reader that that statement is complete crap. Of course, most of those students never came back after the first year and even fewer of them graduated. The retention rate in 2006 was 36%. How could 92 out of a 100 have high paying jobs in their field if they never graduated? Oh and there were 113 students in the inaugural class.

Paragraph 5: "HU is helping to revive downtown Harrisburg, with a new building and dormitory" Oddly, in October of 2011, Schiavelli claimed Harrisburg University had no dorms when he was claiming Harrisburg University was "innovative".  I'll let you decide if there are dorms or not.

So here we are AGAIN being embarrassed and shamed by the behavior of our administration. Apparently, Harrisburg University hates us as much as they hate America.

(And yes, it's hyperbole, mostly.)

[update 2/16] I wrote a letter to ever single member of PCAST objecting to Harrisburg University's inclusion in the PCAST report. As you might expect, I address the questionable nature of the information Harrisburg University supplied to PCAST. The members of PCAST are truly leading scientists, businessmen/women and educators. They include Nobel Laureates, representatives from Google and Microsoft and other individuals from storied institutions. I also sent a letter to the Executive Director of PCAST and uploaded my objections to the PCAST work group. 

[update 2/16] You can  view Harrisburg University's press release here. You'll notice that the press release omits the lies. Sorta' makes you think they know they are lies - doesn't it?