College's Fall 2002 Enrollment Increase Is Largest Ever

Published 08.23.2002

Student News

Pennsylvania College of Technology's Board of Directors on Thursday approved contracts for the student-housing facility to be built adjacent to College West Apartments, authorized a national search for a vice president for student affairs, and received a report from College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour on the record-setting enrollment for Fall 2002.

Dr. Gilmour told the Board that, as of Thursday, enrollment for the fall semester is up 9.7 percent from last year. When the numbers are finalized after the third week of classes, the increase is still expected to exceed 8 percent, Dr. Gilmour said.

"It's the largest increase in the history of the College," she noted.

The "head count" (the total number of full- and part-time students enrolled) stood at 5,969 as of Thursday; full-time-equivalent enrollment was at 5,451, up 9.7 percent from Fall 2001.

Enrollment isn't the only thing going up, Dr. Gilmour said. The College Store registered record sales on each of the first three days of classes, and the store received more than 1,000 online orders before orientation. The number of people registering for orientation sessions was up more than 200 percent from 2001, Dr. Gilmour said. More than 3,300 people registered, including 368 on the day of the sessions. In addition, 2,000 meal plans have been sold for Fall 2002.

The Student Information System received 46,000 "hits" from July 1 to Aug. 13, with more than 11,000 of those hits tracking bills, Dr. Gilmour added. Not surprisingly, student housing is operating at full occupancy (1,076) with a list of 44 students awaiting any vacancies.

In new business, the Board awarded the general contract for the new 365-bed student-housing project to Lobar Inc. of Dillsburg. The Board approved the bids submitted by Lobar and four other firms in awarding them construction contracts totaling $11.99 million. Lobar, which was one of 10 firms bidding for the general contract, had the low bid of $7.67 million. Lobar also is the general contractor for the Student and Administrative Services Center project, which is expected to be completed later this year.

Other contracts awarded Thursday for the student-housing project are: plumbing, W.G. Tomko & Sons Inc. of Hummels Wharf, which submitted a base bid of $1.22 million, the lowest among four firms; HVAC, Billtown Mechanical Corp. of South Williamsport, the lowest among five bidders at $1.19 million; electrical, S.R.S. Electric of Finleyville, which submitted the low bid among four firms at $1.36 million; and control systems, Johnson Controls of Camp Hill, which submitted the lone bid of $451,290.

Construction on the project may begin as early as next week and is expected to be completed in time for Fall 2003 occupancy.

Murray Associates Architects of Harrisburg is designing the facility, which will feature two four-story buildings providing an additional 130,000 square feet of space and 365 beds. Upon completion of the project, the College will offer a total of more than 1,400 beds in on-campus student housing.

Dr. Gilmour told the Board that contractors' bids are due Oct. 3 for the project that will convert the former HON manufacturing facility to instructional spaces.

In other business, the Board authorized the administration to undertake a national search to fill the newly created position of vice president for student affairs, which replaces the position of dean of student affairs.

The new vice president will be responsible for all aspects of student development, including activities that expand and improve upon student orientation, residential services, student activities and programming. The vice president will oversee the areas of financial aid; housing and residence life; health services; College police; athletics; career/academic support and counseling; and student activities.

Senior Vice President Dr. William J. Martin and Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost Veronica M. Muzic will co-chair the search committee. Committee members include J. Elliott Strickland Jr., interim dean of student affairs; David A. London, associate professor of speech communications/composition and former chairman of College Council; and Jessie R. Viani of Wellsville, president of the Student Government Association.

"By embarking upon a national search, we expect to find a proven leader with the skills and experience needed to enhance the already extensive level of services we offer to students," Dr. Gilmour said. "The person selected for this position must be prepared to implement an institutional perspective calling for a greater role for student affairs."

After an interim period of reporting to the senior vice president, the vice president for student affairs will report directly to the College president.

The Board also approved revisions to a College policy pertaining to intellectual property. The policy was revised to reflect current trends and legal precedents. Key elements include more clearly defined language, an increased percentage of royalty share with developers as an incentive and a greater emphasis on preplanning.

Senior Vice President Dr. William J. Martin gave the Board an update on the 1999-2000 Graduate Survey Report. Of the 1,255 total graduates for the period, 85 percent responded to the survey. The overall graduate-placement rate was 97 percent. Total "positive placement" (in employment related to a student's major or continuing education) was 88 percent.

Nearly 89 percent of the respondents are employed in Pennsylvania, with 21.8 percent employed in Lycoming County. Dr. Martin said Penn College is bucking the so-called "brain drain" trend that has seen graduates fleeing Pennsylvania to find jobs. Of those graduates reporting salaries, the average annual pay was $28,473, up $2,100 from the previous survey group, Dr. Martin said.

"I think quite a few institutions would like to have a 'report card' as good as this," concluded Board member Dr. John J. Cahir, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education at The Pennsylvania State University.

The Board also heard from David A. London, outgoing chairman of College Council, who introduced his successor, Dr. Abdul B. Pathan, professor of economics, and provided an update on the past year of governance activities.