Board Accepts Audit, Approves Facilities & Site Master Plan
The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday accepted the college’s audited financial statements for the 2014 fiscal year and approved a Facilities & Site Master Plan for 2015-20.
The board also approved a policy governing the short-term and intermediate investment of college funds, heard a presentation on Living-Learning Communities and received an update on revisions to the college’s Strategic Plan for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.
The format for the new Facilities & Site Plan, the 10th such document prepared by the college since the 1960s, was revised, but the same types of content are included. The plan’s goals are to provide campus space for high-quality educational programs; document facility and site needs; ensure community and client access to college programs and services; ensure that campus spaces are developed effectively and efficiently; develop attractive and safe residential, service and recreational facilities for students; and preserve campus ecology and architectural harmony.
President Davie Jane Gilmour said a top priority among potential projects listed in the plan is the installation of a turf athletic field adjacent to the Field House.
Suzanne T. Stopper, vice president for finance/CFO, told the board that the college’s independent auditing firm (Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP) issued an unqualified opinion on the college’s financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30.
She presented financial highlights from the year, which she characterized as a positive one for the college, driven by excellent investment returns and contributions received as part of the college’s scholarship campaign. Debt continues to decrease, as well. While the scholarship contributions are not available to fund college operations, Stopper said, they are essential to the institution’s ability to award scholarships and attract new students.
Referring to the success of the scholarship campaign, Gilmour concluded: “It’s been a significant year; the bar has been raised high.”
The college already has a policy for long-term investments, Stopper said, and the new policy for short-term and intermediate instruments will guide the investing of excess operating funds to maximize returns while minimizing risk. She said the average maturity of such investments will be three years.
The college’s Strategic Plan was revised to incorporate board input provided at the October board meeting. It was accepted without further comment from the board.
Jon D. Wescott, director of residence life and judicial affairs, and Matthew C. Helf, coordinator of residence life VI, presented to the board on Living-Learning Communities.
Living-Learning Communities have been a retention and integration tool at the college since 2010. Geared toward first-year students, they are academically themed to provide informal social and educational co-curricular experiences that increase students’ connection with faculty outside of the classroom.
Helf said there are four academically based communities with 84 participants: Automotive, 15; Health Sciences, 35; Hospitality, 16; and Information Technology, 18. Educational and social activities are offered each month throughout the fall and spring semesters; Resident Assistants whose majors are connected to the academic theme for each LLC are hired to support them.
LLC members have performed better academically and have higher retention rates than nonparticipating students, Helf noted.
Goals for 2014-17 include hiring more living-learning community mentors for each community to help build programs, support interactions, conduct assessments and guide first-year students in their participation. Other goals, Wescott said, include expanding from four to six LLCs and increasing overall student participation by 33 percent by Fall 2016.
Before adjourning the meeting, Sen. Gene Yaw, board chairman, recalled the many Centennial-related events and activities offered by the college throughout 2014.
“This has been a very successful year. … this has been a great year for Penn College,” he said.