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Board Approves New Software Acquisition

The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday approved a software-system upgrade with Datatel, a provider of software and services for higher education.

“This is no small investment for the institution,” Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour said of the new software, which will be used for financial-management and human-resources operations.

Jim Cunningham, vice president for information technology and business process improvement, said the company currently providing this type of software to the college will no longer offer technical support for the product.

That prompted the college to consider other options, including Datatel, which he said specializes in software targeted at a higher-education clientele. There are 780 higher-education clients using the same software that Penn College will acquire, he said, and they may offer a support system, as well as a “benchmark for best practices.”

Suzanne T. Stopper, vice president for finance/chief financial officer, said the new software allows the college to start with a clean slate and will facilitate the annual auditing process. She acknowledged that training college staff to learn the new software represents “a significant initiative,” but she said it will reap benefits in the long run.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us,” she said.

Board of Directors' meeting summarized for college communityWilliam J. Martin, senior vice president, updated the board on the Fall 2009 enrollment figures. He said things are better than projected, largely because of a significant increase in the number of Penn College NOW enrollees. In the program, students can earn Penn College credits while in high school through dual enrollment in Penn College courses taught by approved teachers at their home high schools or career and technology centers.

It is good news,” said Board Chairman Robert E. Dunham.

The board also received a report on investments held by the college, its foundation and the college’s charitable gift annuity.

Mark Stevenson, vice president and senior portfolio manager for MTB Investment Advisors Inc., said those investments have weathered one of the worst bear markets since the Great Depression and outperformed their target indexes during the gradual recovery taking place in the six months ending June 30.

“We’ve come through the worst of the markets,” he told the board.

The board also viewed the debut of the college’s YouTube channel, with accompanying explanation from Cunningham regarding the college’s foray into the realm of social media, including the previously announced Penn College Facebook page.

In comments to the board, Gilmour noted the success of recent events including Homecoming and the opening of the “Were You There? The Evolution of a College Campus” exhibit at The Gallery at Penn College, which brought many retirees and alumni back to campus.

Gilmour said the search firm that is identifying candidates for the vice president for academic affairs/provost position is progressing as planned, and the college still hopes to fill the position in January.

Dunham told the board about the recent visit to campus by the Corporation for Penn State and members of the Penn State Board of Trustees. Some toured the campus by trolley, while others conducted a business meeting in the Thompson Professional Development Center. Dunham and Gilmour both noted the many positive comments received from the 57 participants.

At the conclusion of the meeting, board member Rep. Rick Mirabito provided Gilmour and Dunham with a state House of Representatives resolution congratulating the college on the occasion of its 20th anniversary as an affiliate of Penn State.

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