Board approves synthetic turf field, welcomes new member

The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday authorized a project to install a synthetic turf field for Wildcat Athletics, accepted audited statements for Fiscal Year 2018 and welcomed a new member to its ranks.

The board approved a request from the college administration to borrow funds from reserves to move forward with the synthetic turf field project, which features a 123-by-85-yard field, base, drainage and associated improvements. The field will allow for play through a variety of temperatures and in wet, dry and frozen conditions. Installation is anticipated to begin soon after the Spring 2019 Wildcat Athletic sports schedule is finished. Completion is due in time to accommodate the Fall 2019 sports schedule.

In a presentation to the board, Jason K. Bogle, director of construction projects/construction manager, noted that playability of the current grass field was a primary concern in moving to a synthetic alternative. He said the turf layer of the synthetic field has an expected life of up to 15 years, and it can be replaced without having to invest again in the substructure/drainage components when that time arises.

The estimated cost for the synthetic turf field project is $1.4 million. The college is launching a fundraising campaign to help defray costs for the turf field along with previously completed enhancements at the athletic complex including a press box, expanded bleacher seating for 650 spectators, a scoreboard and more. Naming opportunities and recognition are available for donors.

Board members visit the lab for the brewing and fermentation science major ...

In other business, the board accepted the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30. Once again, the college’s independent auditors, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, issued an unmodified opinion on the college’s financial statements, which is the highest level of assurance given in an audit.

The board also approved a revised investment policy statement for the college’s defined contribution retirement plan. The policy is designed to assist the college in meeting its fiduciary responsibilities in relation to the employee retirement plans. Specifically, the policy provides guidance to the retirement plan committee, which is charged with monitoring the plans.

Thursday's Board of Directors meeting encapsulated for college communityNew board member M. Abraham Harpster participated in his first meeting. A co-owner of Evergreen Farms Inc., Spruce Creek, Harpster is also a member of the Penn State University Board of Trustees. He succeeds Thomas G. Poole, who has served on the Penn College Board since 2012. Poole retired from Penn State earlier this year as vice president for administration.

... and are led by Tom F. Gregory (second from right), associate vice president for instruction, on a tour of the Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College.

Harpster graduated from Penn State in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in agricultural business management from the College of Agricultural Sciences. He has held membership offices in agricultural associations at the local, state and national levels, and he serves on several agricultural charitable boards and foundations.

The board heard a presentation on ROTC at Penn College from Lt. Col. Jonathon Britton, professor of military science, Bald Eagle Battalion Army ROTC. After Britton’s presentation, Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour said aligning the college’s ROTC program with Bald Eagle Battalion is “one of the best decisions we ever made.” The battalion also includes Lock Haven University, where it is currently based; Mansfield University and Lycoming College.

The board was shown a PCToday video titled “Child’s Dream Matches Penn College Mission.” The video profiles Trevin Allen, a fourth-grader at Bloomsburg Memorial Elementary School, whose dream – described for a class assignment – matches workforce needs addressed by the college.

State Rep. Garth Everett displays a cutting board – complete with woodburned college seal – that was presented to each board member.

Shannon Munro, vice president for workforce development, introduced the video for the board, noting that, for a class assignment, 9-year-old Trevin described his dream of working in plastics at SEKISUI SPI with his father, Lucas, a 2001 Penn College alumnus and technical service specialist for the firm. Trevin’s mature goals prompted an invitation from the college, where he experienced various facets of applied technology and hands-on technology education in a visit to campus.

In her remarks to the board, Gilmour provided updates referencing a visit to campus by Sen. Patrick M. Browne, chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee, the physician assistant students completing clinical rotations in Peru, the work performed by hospitality students at the prestigious Breeders’ Cup, and a plan to offer a service learning project as part of future Open House events.

In his remarks, Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman of the board, noted that the college has again been invited to present its state budget request directly to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The college presented separately from Penn State for the first time in 2018. He also noted how Penn College offers the type of education that addresses many of the issues raised in a recent Deloitte workforce study and produces graduates who remedy a shortage of skilled workers in high-demand manufacturing and technology career fields.

“We’re at the right place, at the right time, with what we do,” Yaw said.

After Thursday’s meeting, board members toured the lab for the brewing and fermentation science major, as well as the Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 7.

Penn College is a special mission affiliate of Penn State