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Board Approves 2018-19 Budget/Tuition; Contracts Authorized for Welding Expansion

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Board of Directors on Thursday approved the 2018-19 college budget, tuition and fees; authorized bids for welding expansion; granted emeritus status to a retired school dean; authorized appointment of an auditing services firm; and approved a revision to a campus security policy.

The board also approved position/title changes for three members of senior administration and authorized appointment of members to serve on the Community Arts Center Board of Directors.

The board gave its OK to the $161.8 million total budget, which calls for a 2.81-percent increase in tuition for in-state residents (a 2.39-percent increase when fees are included).

President Davie Jane Gilmour said the aim was to keep tuition and fees as low as possible while funding projects linked to the college’s Strategic Plan and major institutional initiatives. The budget is up slightly over 4 percent, mostly due to significant capital investments, including expansion of facilities for welding instruction and renovations to a facility (gifted by UPMC Susquehanna) to house Penn College at Wellsboro, where a Practical Nursing Program is being expanded.

The college’s state appropriation is budgeted to remain at $22.1 million, representing 13.6 percent of the total budget and 18.3 percent of the Operating Budget for 2018-19, which is $120.9 million.

The board also signed off on increases for Residence Life housing rates (2 percent for all configurations) and Dining Services (1.5 percent for all board plans).

If the state Legislature does not pass its budget by June 30, the board authorized the college to continue operations at the 2017-18 levels.

For the welding expansion – which is partially funded by a $2 million grant provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration – contracts worth a total of $6.65 million were authorized (pending EDA approval) for Leonard S. Fiore Inc., $4.36 million, general contractor; Marx Sheet Metal & Mechanical Inc., $1.01 million, mechanical; TurnKey Electric Inc., $787,940, electrical; and Myco, $488,000, plumbing.

Thursday's board meeting recapped for Penn College communityColin W. Williamson, who retired as dean of transportation and natural resources technologies in 2014, was approved for Dean Emeritus status.

Among his achievements were fostering industry partnerships that helped raise nearly $40 million in cash and in-kind/equipment donations, including donation of a Boeing 727 to the aviation program by FedEx. He was also instrumental in coordinating early vehicle donations, grants and relationships with automotive museums to help launch the automotive restoration technology major, and he participated in national organizations to bring industry expertise and best practices to campus.

The firm of Baker Tilly was authorized to perform auditing services for the college for the fiscal year ending June 30.

An amendment to a college policy for campus security approved by the board clarifies that Penn College Police officers may join pursuits for incidents in which there is “an immediate threat to human life,” even if the incident involves no direct threat to the college itself.

Position/title changes for three members of President’s Council were authorized by the board. They are: Patrick Marty, to chief of staff/assistant to the president for college relations; Suzanne T. Stopper, to senior vice president/CFO; and Hillary E. Hofstrom, to vice president of human resources.

Gilmour said the changes for Marty and Stopper involve some modification of position descriptions to reflect additional duties. Hofstrom will now report directly to the president.

Appointees approved to serve on the Community Arts Center Board are: Gilmour, William J. Martin, Stopper, Veronica M. Muzic, Paul L. Starkey and Carolyn R. Strickland. Marty already serves on the board as a community representative.

Informational presentations were made for apprenticeships (Shannon Munro, vice president for workforce development, and Christopher P. Ray, executive director of business development) and faculty promotions (Starkey, vice president for academic affairs/provost).

Starkey informed the board that six faculty members have been approved for promotion effective with the start of the 2018-19 school year. All six are being promoted from instructor to assistant professor. There is no budgetary impact.

The faculty are: Summer L. Bukeavich, business administration/management and marketing; Ryan P. Good, welding; Christina B. Kavanagh, nursing programs; Jason W. Killinger, HVAC technology; Brad H. Lyon, civil engineering technology; and Robert K. Vlacich, automotive service.

Munro and Ray told the board that the college is a Pennsylvania-approved sponsor for two apprenticeship programs and a pre-apprenticeship program. The college hosted an apprenticeship summit on May 3, which featured representatives from nearly 70 employers across Pennsylvania and four other states. The Apprenticeship Center at Penn College, a resource for state and local partners, opened last week, Munro said, and is housed in the Center for Business & Workforce Development.

The college is the recipient of a $576,000 grant from the state Department of Community & Economic Development to fund apprenticeships in mechatronics and computer numerical control occupations, as well as pre-apprenticeship programs for high school students. Munro said apprenticeship programs help to address a skills gap caused by retiring Baby Boomers, who are leaving the workforce at a rate of 10,000 per day.

Speaking of the positive response from businesses to the college’s consortium apprenticeship training model, Ray said, “The demand we have is enormous.” Gilmour added, “We’ve been working very hard to make the model a good one.” The college is presently working with 17 companies for on-the-job training of 85 apprentices.

Board Chairman Sen. Gene Yaw spoke to the board about his predecessor in the state Senate, Roger A. Madigan, who died June 2 at the age of 88. Madigan, whose name graces the college library, served on the Penn College Board for 17 years.

“It’s just a real honor to follow someone like that,” Yaw said, adding “He served the board really well and left a legacy here.”

The next Penn College Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Aug. 2 in Penn’s Inn.

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