'Hurst halts HR program

Effective immediately, Mercyhurst University’s Walker School of Business will be closing admissions to its Human Resource Management program with the intention of “phasing out the major” according to its dean, Rajeev Parikh, Ph.D..

Though the program will no longer be accepting new students, the relatively small number of students already enrolled will be able to continue in the major until they graduate.

The decision to cut the major from Mercyhurst’s itinerary was “made internally,” Parikh said, “in conversations with the vice president for academic affairs” as well as “the faculty.”

Parikh went on to say that “the program as it stands right now is not sustainable; it doesn’t have enough students to justify offering some of the special electives.”

“The human resources field has changed quite a bit,” Parikh explained further. “A lot of people who are working in leadership capacity in human resources often have degrees in other areas…”

For instance, “if you have a management degree, you would be eligible to work in human resources. All you would need to do is take a couple of short seminars in order to qualify for the certificate in human resource management… So we recommend that students go for a management degree, and then they will have many more options.”

Parikh said that “no faculty members are going to lose their jobs.”

When asked her opinion on the decision to cut the human resources major, Assistant Professor Kimberly Zacherl, who has taught Human Resource Management (as well as Hospitality and Marketing programs) since the fall term of 2005, stated in an email that, “As with any firm, strategic business decisions are made every day. In order to be progressive in our department, it was a necessary decision. Students can still take the MGMT 206 course, and I would highly suggest doing so for anyone who wants to own their own business, or those who will be working for a firm.”

There are many positives for ceasing the Human Resource Management program at Mercyhurst. As with every important decision, perhaps there are negatives.

As Mercyhurst’s website observed on its webpage for HR, “The U.S. Department of Labor notes that overall employment for human resources personnel is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

This statistic may spark the concern that cutting a flexible program such as HR in the midst of its high employment demand may leave Mercyhurst not ahead, but behind in the business field.

Parikh said, however, that by cutting the program, “we are trying to use our resources in the best possible way,” as the department is exploring new programs and opportunities “at the undergraduate and graduate level.”