Rep. Brett O. Feese Presents $500,000 State Grant to Penn College
A $500,000 grant to purchase instructional equipment at Pennsylvania College of Technology was hand-delivered Thursday by state Rep. Brett O. Feese (R-Muncy), who termed it "an excellent example of a cost-effective investment in the future workforce of the Commonwealth."
"It is investments like this one . . . that will give us the tools we need to compete in the 'New Economy' and keep education affordable," said Rep. Feese, majority caucus chairman in the state House and a member of Penn College's Board of Directors. "This grant will have an immediate positive impact on the educational experience of students at Penn College."
The pervasiveness of that influence was noted by Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, College president, who said more than 1,500 students better than 25 percent of the nearly 6,000 enrolled this semester will directly benefit from the grant-funded equipment purchases.
"We can only imagine what impact those 1,500 lives will have as these men and women complete their Penn College education and go out to live and work in their respective communities," she said.
The money will support seven areas of instruction at Penn College: Civil Engineering/Surveying ($98,000), Health Sciences ($31,200); Manufacturing Engineering Technology ($100,800); Graphic Communications ($34,800); Broadcast Communications ($151,600); Diesel Technology ($31,000) and Welding & Fabrication Engineering Technology ($52,600).
"Our special mission requires that we constantly upgrade and add to our inventory of instructional equipment in order to ensure that the education we provide truly is responsive to employment needs. We build curriculum and determine resource allocations based on technology and employment realities," the president explained, noting the ongoing challenge to maintain well-equipped laboratories to teach students not only the fundamentals but today's most advanced technologies.
"Our current operating budget provides just over $528,000 to upgrade College laboratories. Without grant funding of at least the same amount and the generosity of industry which contributes in excess of $3.5 million per year we could not maintain our status as the state's premier technical college," Dr. Gilmour added.
Much of the equipment to be purchased will reside in new and improved facilities, including those being relocated to the former HON building when renovations there are complete or those being expanded after offices have moved into the new Student and Administrative Services Center.
The grant was announced in the Automated Manufacturing laboratory just one area of instruction to be enhanced by the addition of a Universal Testing Machine. The machine will be used to test the strength and response of metals by stretching specimens until they fail.
"How will that contribute to improving instruction for our students? This new equipment will replace a donated, 40-year-old, retrofitted machine that has done its job well, but is showing its age," Dr. Gilmour said. "Other equipment to be purchased with these dollars respond to similar needs in other program areas . . . from a computer-controlled simulation unit (known as Sim Man) that will be used in Nursing and other Health Sciences majors, where we are experiencing significant enrollment growth . . . to a new video/editing laboratory and study that will allow for the expansion of our communication majors."
Dr. Robert E. Dunham, chairman of the College's Board of Directors, said the grant funding is an integral part of the equation as colleges across the Commonwealth struggle to keep costs and tuition down. Without frugal management of expenditures and the type of investment represented by the $500,000 grant Penn College would not have been able to keep this year's tuition increase to 3.9 percent, the lowest among Pennsylvania colleges and universities.
Dr. Dunham and Dr. Gilmour expressed their gratitude to Rep. Feese not only for pledging his unwavering support to higher education, but for delivering on that promise.