Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Harrisburg University claims to offer 59 academic programs

If anything, this blog has been critical about how Harrisburg University presents themselves to the public. It's understandable that the school needs to have good PR, but outright misrepresentation of basic facts is abhorrent. Dishonesty should not be acceptable to anyone in higher education.

According to many recent Harrisburg University press releases (like this one or this one) "Harrisburg University offers 24 undergraduate and 35 graduate programs."  Umm say what?! HU is claiming they have 59 academic programs?! You know, there are lies and there are crazy lies. This is a crazy lie.

The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is authorized to offer five undergraduate programs and three graduate programs:
  1. Biotechnology
  2. Computer and Information Sciences
  3. Geospatial Technology
  4. Integrative Sciences
  5. Management & eBusiness
  6. Learning Technologies Master of Science
  7. Master of Science in Project Management
  8. Information Systems Engineering and Management
Yep, that's it!

Students expecting to find a wide range of programs to choose from have been disappointed to discover that there are in reality only a handful of programs to choose from and only a handful of full-time faculty to teach them. To make matters worse, some of these programs are dead in the water (Biotechnology,  Management & eBusiness) while other programs are dying a slow death.

Harrisburg University's deceptive advertising and public relations is simply unethical and unacceptable. The entire university risks the loss of accreditation. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (HU's accrediting body) requires its member institutions act with honest and integrity.

Harrisburg University pretends to get another grant

As you may recall, I talked about Harrisburg University pretending to get a $400K NSF grant back in November of 2011. Well, they are at it again. HU recently claimed they received a $250K grant form the Keck foundation. In a press release title "Harrisburg University Receives $250,000 Grant from Keck Foundation" they state "Harrisburg University of Science and Technology has received a $250,000 grant from the Keck Foundation to implement an effort to promote, support and sustain college-level science education reform....."

Of course, it turns out that that simply isn't true. Harrisburg University will not get the grant money. The grant was awarded to SENCER, an organization that keeps an office at HU. The grant is going to be used to help improve science education in the western United States.

I'll just repeat what I wrote in 2011:

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.

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.

Governor Corbett declines to release funds to Harrisburg University

As you may recall, in 2002 Pennsylvania set aside $59M for the Harrisburg Polytechnic Institute through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). The Harrisburg Polytechnic Institute later changed its name to The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Governors Rendell and Schweiker released $37M in commonwealth funds to support the university. Harrisburg University was expecting Governor Corbett to release the other $22 million. HU spent thousands and thousands of dollars on lobbying to that end.

Back in November of 2011, I wrote about this very subject, urging Harrisburg University community members to contact the Governor regarding our administration's poor performance and indulgent behavior. This site saw a lot of traffic from Pennsylvania's government network, so apparently our efforts to bring this matter to the attention of the Governor was successful.

Governor Corbett canceled a scheduled press conference at Harrisburg University and has not released any addition funds to the university.

Many of us don't agree with Governor Corbett's budgets cuts for higher education, but in this case, we appreciate that the Governor exercised some basic common sense.