Board approves 2019-20 budget, appointment of provost
The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday voted to approve the college’s 2019-20 budget and the appointment of Michael J. Reed as vice president for academic affairs and provost, which will be effective July 1.
The board also signed off on annual gifts to the City of Williamsport and the Williamsport Area School District and approved the roster for the Community Arts Center Board of Directors.
The $157.3 million total budget, which is $7.1 million (4.3%) less than 2018-19, includes a 2.95% tuition increase for Pennsylvania residents, marking five consecutive years of increases held below 3%. When tuition and fees are combined, the increase is lower: 2.51%.
The in-state rate for tuition and fees in 2019-20 will be $572 per credit hour, an increase of $14 per credit. A full-time, in-state student enrolled for the typical two 15-credit semesters in 2019-20 will pay $17,160 in tuition and fees, an increase of $420 over 2018-19.
Residence Life increases for student housing will be 1.5% for all apartment/room configurations. All board plans offered by Dining Services will rise by 1.5%, as well.
In her budget presentation to the board, Suzanne T. Stopper, senior vice president for finance and CFO, said the college has diverse hands-on majors, each with different needs for equipment and labs, making budgeting especially challenging. She said the administration budgeted conservatively because, “Enrollment across the country is down in higher ed.” Her presentation also referenced the many successes of highly skilled Penn College alumni in the workforce. “They really do make a difference,” she told the board.
As part of the budget, voluntary gifts of $100,000 to the City of Williamsport and $35,000 to the Williamsport Area School District were approved.
The board also authorized the college to continue operations after June 30 at budgeted levels approved for fiscal year 2019 if a state budget is not passed by month’s end. When asked by President Davie Jane Gilmour if a state budget is forthcoming, Board Chairman Sen. Gene Yaw responded, “I will be surprised if we do not have a budget within the next two weeks.”
Reed succeeds Paul L. Starkey, who will return to teaching this fall, joining the business administration faculty at the college.
Reed has been employed at Penn College since 2014, most recently serving as vice president for academic operations and associate provost. Previously, he was dean, interim dean and assistant dean of the School of Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications. The vice president for academic operations and associate provost position will be eliminated, Gilmour said. Its duties and responsibilities will be handled by other administrators at the college.
Before coming to Penn College, Reed was head principal at Williamsport Area High School and served as the director of SciTech High School, a STEM magnet school partnering with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
Members of the Community Arts Center Board were approved by the Penn College Board. They are: Gilmour, William J. Martin, Patrick Marty, A.J. Lacomba, Stopper and Carolyn R. Strickland. The Arts Center is a wholly owned subsidiary of the college.
Edwin G. Owens, associate professor of mathematics and department head, described the Math 180 project for the board in a presentation entitled “Overcoming Barriers.” Spearheaded by a group of math faculty at Penn College including Owens, Lisa D. Jacobs, Lauren A. Rhodes, Tiffany D. Schwanger and Nathan D. Trick, the project has resulted in student performance increases in college algebra, which serves as gateway course for nearly all STEM majors. The pilot program featured participation by 685 students in 2016-19.
Math 180 prescribes an extra hour in class, taught by faculty who have volunteered for the extra teaching time, with no additional cost incurred by students. The primary goal, Owens said, was to provide hope and empower students for success using a collaborative learning model.
In her comments to the board, Gilmour recounted a busy, end-of-the-academic-year list of events and activities, including three commencement ceremonies, the launch of a pilot tuition exchange program with Lycoming College, the dedication of the Woodlands Bank Innovation Lab in Memory of Nicole Guthrie-Jones, the Sen. Yaw Student Government Seminar, industry training for plastics professionals in the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, the welding faculty’s training on an innovative electron beam welder being provided to the college by Cambridge Vacuum Engineering, and the temporary housing of one of the Marine Helicopter Squadron One aircraft at the Lumley Aviation Center during President Trump’s visit to the area last month.
In his comments to the board, Yaw thanked Starkey for his service as provost and for his efforts in guiding recent academic program tours of campus for elected officials and other VIPs.
“I think that you will take that same enthusiasm into the classroom,” he said.
Yaw said he hopes that visits to campus by elected officials will bear fruit when they see all that is embodied by a Penn College education.
“There are certainly more people in the state capital who know about Penn College than a few years ago,” he said.
The next meeting of the Penn College Board of Directors is scheduled for Aug. 8.