Saturday, June 2, 2012

Is Harrisburg University doomed? (Part 1)

The short answer is "yes", Harrisburg University is doomed.  I really don't think at this point it will ever recover. In its current state it isn't worth saving anyhow. The school needed strong, fiscally responsible and experienced leadership. Instead, we got stuck with Mel "Do Nothing" Schiavelli, Eric "I have no clue what I'm doing" Darr and a incompetent Board of Trustees. In reality, not much has changed in an operational sense now that Schiavelli scurried away. Darr has always been responsible for the day to day operations at HU and he is directly responsible for its state of failure.

If Schiavelli had simply done his job and acted with honesty and integrity, he would have been a great president. He did a pretty good job at brining money in, he wrote nice fluff pieces for the media and schmoozed pretty well. This blog has hammered away at  Schiavelli simply because it appeared that he was intentionally misleading the public about the true state of affairs at HU. Good PR is fine, but it must done within the confines of strict integrity. Schiavelli needed to go. Good riddance.

Unfortunately, Schiavelli's departure leaves HU in a bit of a pickle since Schiavelli was largely responsible for securing operating funds for the university. The Roxbury News reports that Schiavelli has been securing funds from the Dauphin County since 2010. Without this money, the university would have ceased operation. Despite HU defaulting on a previous loan from Dauphin county and HU's failure to make a $1.5MM bond payment that the County had to cover, on Feb 29, 2012, HU officials Mel Schiavelli and Steve Infanti signed a $3.7MM loan document, promising to pay back Dauphin county. Incredibly, Dauphin County accepted future "student tuition" as collateral for the loan, even though they dont know how many studetns are actually enrolled at HU. Apparently the press coverage about HU's financial problems made the County Commissions re-examine their financial support for Harrisburg University. The Patriot-News reported "Dauphin County commissioners said this morning they don't plan to channel more county money to The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. The pledge comes as some in the community voice concern about the finances of the private university, which has seen expenses consistently outstrip revenue. Departing university President Mel Schiavelli last week called the institution 'financially fragile.'" It seems pretty clear that HU was expecting Pennsylvania to give them another $22MM.

So where did all the money go? According to HU, they had 400 full-time students last year. The tuition is $22,500 per year. Some of the student's had scholarships and some where graduate lets just estimate there were about 300 students that payed full tuition. 300 x $22,500= $6.75MM. Plus they had $1.2MM from from Dauphin county. Where did HU spent $7-8MM? Harrisburg University also reported last year that the "CONNECT Campaign Raised More than $44.7 Million", where is that money? What is HU doing with the money it is collecting from the parking garage since they aren't paying the HPA? And if Harrisburg University couldn't survive on all that money last year, how will it survive the coming year without more loans from the county? Back in June of 2005, Harrisburg University received $9,681,000 in operating grant support and $37,000,000 in capital grants from federal state and local sources support and $1,024,000 in support from private donors. Also the HU bonds totaled $87,915,000. (See the HU Bond Limited Offering Memorandum)

Where is all money?

(to be continued)

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