Board Approves Budget, Welding Grant, New Workforce VP, Title Change

The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday approved the college’s 2017-18 budget, tuition and fees; authorized acceptance of a grant facilitating welding expansion; and gave its blessing to the appointment of a new vice president overseeing workforce development.

The board also approved a title change for the administrator overseeing student affairs and the appointment of the firm that will perform auditing services for the college for the fiscal year ending June 30.

For the third consecutive year, tuition will rise by the smallest percentage since the institution became an affiliate of Penn State in 1989. When fees are combined with tuition, the total increase is 1.68 percent – another record low for the college.

There will be no increase in the rates charged for on-campus student housing in 2017-18. Rates for Dining Services’ board plans will rise by 2 percent.

The operating budget for 2017-18 – $111.55 million – is 1.02 percent higher than 2016-17. The total budget is $152.85 million and represents an increase of less than 1 percent (0.69 percent) over 2016-17. The budget includes gifts to the City of Williamsport ($100,000) and the Williamsport Area School District ($35,000).

Thursday's Board of Directors meeting recapped for college community

Suzanne T. Stopper, vice president for finance/CFO, said the administration’s guiding principle in budget planning again was – is it in the best interest of our students?

In other business, the board authorized acceptance of a $2 million grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provided it is awarded to the college and all of its conditions are met, including a cash match of $3 million.

If awarded, the grant would allow a near doubling in size of the welding facility to more than 40,000 square feet, which would enable the college to enroll an additional 45-60 welding students each year. There may no longer be a need for a waiting list for the welding majors if the grant is awarded and the facility is expanded, President Davie Jane Gilmour said.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for us,” Gilmour noted.

The appointment of Shannon M. Munro as vice president for workforce development was approved by the board. Munro, who had been executive director of workforce development since 2012, succeeds Tracy L. Brundage, who is leaving to become provost and vice president for academic affairs at Keystone College.

Gilmour said the college will miss Brundage, but the succession plan is a good one, with Munro ready to apply what she has learned over the past five years.

“We will not miss a beat. … She will do a remarkable job, as well,” the president said.

A title change for Elliot Strickland was also approved. Strickland, formerly the college’s chief student affairs officer, will now hold the title of vice president for student affairs. His duties and responsibilities will not change. Gilmour said that, given the many roles Strickland performs for the college, it was time to reflect his contributions with an appropriate title.

The board approved the reappointment of the members of the Community Arts Center Board of Directors for 2017-18. They are: Davie Jane Gilmour, William J. Martin, Suzanne T. Stopper, Veronica M. Muzic, Paul L. Starkey and Carolyn R. Strickland.

The firm of Baker Tilly, Williamsport, was approved by the board to perform auditing services for the college for Fiscal 2017.

Anthony J. Pace, director of student activities, presented to the board on Connections, the college’s summer orientation program for incoming students.

Pace told the board there are 10 Connections sessions offered – nine over the summer and one in January for students entering mid-year. In 2016, Connections served a total of 2,641 people, including 738 on-campus students, 575 off-campus students, 112 adult learners and 1,216 parents and guests. The college uses 10-12 student Connections “Links.”

There are two student “Lead Links” – Lindsey A. King, pre-applied health studies: occupational therapy assistant concentration, and David A. Gadalla, aviation maintenance technology – who accompanied Pace and spoke briefly to the board about their experiences in the program.

Mike Cunningham, outgoing vice president for information technology/chief information officer, apprised the board about IT security training at the college.

Cunningham told the board that all college employees handling high- or moderate-impact personally identifiable information must complete security training within six months of their hiring. Continuing security-training frequency is determined by ITS and Employee Relations.

The online security-training package features 48 different modules requiring 60-90 minutes to complete. Part of the training includes simulated “phishing” attacks sent to employees. More than 900 Penn College employees have been trained as part of the effort.

In her report to the board, Gilmour highlighted the college’s recent fifth-place finishes in two international Baja race events that featured the Penn College team prevailing over much larger schools. Gilmour also described the Summer Camp offerings that commence this Sunday, with 240 students enrolled in a variety of programs.

She also noted that faculty member Chef Charles Niedermyer had been named one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America by Dessert Professional Magazine, accepting the honor in New York City on June 5.

The president also told the board that the college’s archery team took a national championship at the season-ending outdoor national championships in Chula Vista, California, where the men’s bowhunter team placed first, Andrew Rupp earned All-American honors, and the team ended eighth in the country overall for the second year in a row.

Board Chairman Sen. Gene Yaw said his annual Student Government Seminar, held on campus on May 18, was successful once again with a record 300 high school students (from Bradford, Lycoming and Union counties) and 70 panelists participating.

The next Penn College Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Aug. 3.