Student-Housing Construction, Renovation Projects Approved

Published 10.12.2007


The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday approved the Stage X Building Program (which includes construction of new student housing and three major renovation projects), authorized a $124,990,000 bond issue to pay for Stage X and to refinance previous bond issues, and approved a resolution to return $250,000 in unanticipated state-appropriation funds to students.

The bond issue includes $53,260,000 for the impending construction and renovations and $71,730,000 to refinance some of the college's existing bonds from 2000 and 2002. The refinancing is projected to generate $2,162,658 in net present-value savings, said Robert M. Fisher, vice president for business affairs.

Board of Directors' meeting summarized for campus communityThe student-housing construction will offer approximately 260 more beds and merge the College West and Rose Street Apartments complexes into a single student-housing area at the west end of campus. New Food Services facilities, Residence Life offices and student recreational spaces will be part of the project.

The three major renovation projects to be financed by the bond issue involve the Hager Lifelong Education Center, the Parkes Automotive Technology Center and the Avco-Lycoming Metal Trades Center/Machining Technologies Center on the main campus.

Other smaller Stage X projects, which will be financed either with operating budget funds or bond proceeds, involve Plastics and Polymer Technology, the College Information and Community Relations Office, Information Technology Services, the Executive Offices, the Business Program, the School of Hospitality, Student Health Services, and Media Arts.

Work for student-housing construction and the major renovations could begin as early as January 2009, after bids are received in late 2008. The exact schedules will be determined with the architect (Murray Associates Architects, P.C., of Harrisburg) during the one-year design phase. Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour said the overall timetable is "today through 2010." She said the college will save 15 percent of the costs by "bundling" all of the projects and performing them simultaneously.

She said the student-housing construction should not impact private landlords who rent to students, and the college continues to cultivate good relationships with the local-landlord groups. When completed in 2010, the student-housing project will bring the total number of beds offered on campus to 1,759 − about 24 percent of the projected total enrollment.

Benedict H. Dubbs, a principal in Murray Associates Architects, P.C., gave a presentation that included a look at floor plans for student-housing construction and the major renovation projects in the Stage X Building Program. He, too, emphasized the college will save money by conducting the various projects at the same time.

In other business, the board approved a resolution allowing the administration to return $250,000 (the college's unexpected state-appropriation increase for 2007-08) to students who enroll for the Spring 2008 semester. Students enrolled for spring will have their tuition bills reduced by $3 per credit hour. For example, a student enrolled for a typical 15-credit load in the spring semester will receive $45 in savings.

The governor's initial proposal for the 2007-08 state budget included no increase in Penn College's $12,659,000 state appropriation, and the college administration built its annual operating budget based on that projection. But the final version of the budget that was passed by legislators and signed by the governor did include a $250,000 increase for the college.

Gilmour and state Rep. Matthew E. Baker, who is also a member of the Penn College Board, presented a symbolic check for $250,000 to Andrew S. Wisner, 2007-08 Student Government Association president, on behalf of all students at the college.

The board also authorized the college administration to purchase property at 1330 Dix St. in Williamsport. It will be used for additional campus parking.

Senior Vice President William J. Martin offered an update on enrollment, which has increased again, with a total of 6,682 students (an all-time high) enrolled for the Fall 2007 semester − a 1.7-percent increase from Fall 2006.

In-state enrollment (90.3 percent of the total enrollment) increased 1.7 percent to 6,031. Out-of-state enrollment (9.4 percent of the total enrollment) rose 1.1 percent to 622, with 33 states represented.

The School of Health Sciences has the largest total enrollment of the college's eight academic schools: 1,323. Enrollment totals for the college's other academic schools are: Business and Computer Technologies, 1,273; Construction and Design Technologies, 1,042; Industrial and Engineering Technologies, 909; Integrated Studies, 644; Transportation Technology, 540; Natural Resources Management, 459; and Hospitality, 206.

The board also heard a report on new faculty for 2007-08 from Lizabeth S. Mullens, vice president for academic affairs/provost.

Representatives from MTB Investment Advisors briefed the board on the college's investments, saying the college's conservative approach to asset allocation generated a total overall return of 7.59 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30.

Brett A. Reasner, assistant dean of natural resources management and chair of College Council, and Eugene M. McAvoy, assistant professor of English-composition and chair-elect of College Council, provided the board with the annual report for the Internal Governance System.

Gilmour thanked Henryk R. Marcinkiewicz, associate vice president for academic affairs, for his service to the college. Marcinkiewicz is leaving later this month to take a position with Aramco Services Co., Houston. She said his position may be filled internally.