Board Approves UPMC Gift Supporting Nursing Expansion at Wellsboro

The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday approved accepting a gift of a property that will enable the college to expand its Practical Nursing Program in Wellsboro.

The board also authorized parameters for the college’s 2018-19 state budget request; accepted the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30; approved the college’s Vision, Mission and Values Statement; signed off on an appointment to the Corporate Advisory Board, and endorsed updates to the college policy for a contingency reserve fund.

The transfer of a 8,400-square-foot facility at 22 Walnut St., Wellsboro – from UPMC Susquehanna – will be completed for $1. The agreement is contingent upon the college using the building to expand the Practical Nursing Program offered by Penn College at Wellsboro.

The UPMC Susquehanna Board must also approve the agreement. Renovations are anticipated to begin in early 2018, and the college hopes the nursing program can move into the facility by early 2019. The expansion will accommodate an increase in enrollment for the full-time, yearlong program from 18 to 24 students. Additional programming options may be explored, including the possibility of offering a part-time version of the program, said Shannon Munro, vice president for workforce development. The college will hire additional instructors as needed.

Munro projected that the renovation expenses associated with the new location could be recouped in five or six years. Other training, such as that already offered in Wellsboro for computing and safety courses for the natural gas industry, may also be housed at the facility.

Thursday's Board of Directors meeting summarizedPatrick Marty, vice president for college relations, said the downtown location of the circa-1970s building, would offer a branding opportunity for the college. He said an architect familiar with adaptive reuse projects made some recommendations to the college regarding an elevator for the split-level structure, as well as ADA accessibility upgrades.

Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour said bids would be sought for the renovation project, which will address a significant need in the region.

“We think it’s an ideal opportunity for us to expand in that area,” Gilmour said.

UPMC Susquehanna President Steven P. Johnson, who is also a member of the Penn College Board of Directors, said Pennsylvania is experiencing the second-highest shortage of LPNs nationwide, and the impact is being felt particularly hard in rural areas.

In an action that is required annually, the board approved parameters for Penn College’s state budget request, which is submitted to state government within the request made by Penn State University.

The college’s independent auditors, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, issued an unmodified opinion on the college’s financial statements for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Suzanne T. Stopper, vice president for finance/CFO, noted that is the highest level of assurance given in an audit. Strong contribution revenue, coupled with favorable market conditions, enabled the college’s permanently restricted fund to grow by $2.4 million, she said. Those funds support student scholarships.

Carolyn R. Strickland, vice president for enrollment management/associate provost, reviewed the college’s Vision, Mission and Values Statement with the board, noting proposed changes are intended to make the language and concepts more streamlined, succinct and easier to articulate. She said the approved revised statements will be submitted to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Chris Kowalewski, chief growth officer and senior vice president of sales for Compass Group PLC, was approved as a member of the college’s Corporate Advisory Board. Kowalewski, a Lock Haven native, is a graduate of Lock Haven University. Compass Group is the world’s sixth-largest employer and a leader in food and support services management.

The board approved updates to the Contingency Reserve Fund policy that define the fund and establish a specific calculation to ensure consistency of application. Stopper told the board the policy is there as a “guide for unanticipated financial hardships.” As of June 30, the fund was at 20.2 percent, well within the recommended parameters of 10 to 25 percent.

Gilmour provided an update on the college’s Periodic Review for Middle States, noting it had been formally reviewed, and the college’s accreditation had been reaffirmed. The next review takes place in 2021-22.

Dennis Correll, associate dean for enrollment management, provided the board with an update on financial aid. The Financial Aid Office processed more than $95 million in financial aid for students in 2016-17 – a $1.7 million increase from 2015-16. Scholarship awards increased 11.78 percent.

In her comments to the board, Gilmour spoke of Fall 2017 Commencement on Saturday, for which 299 students have petitioned for the awarding of 310 degrees. She also told the board that, of the 883 students statewide who earned credits from the Penn College NOW dual-enrollment program, 20 percent have enrolled here.

Gilmour said it was the last board meeting for Mike Cunningham, the college’s outgoing vice president for information technology/chief information officer, marking 122 years of total service to the college from members of the Cunningham family.

“Mike, you have left an amazing legacy, and you will be missed,” the president said of Cunningham, who retires this month.

In his comments, Board Chairman Sen. Gene Yaw referenced the recent dedication of the Major General Fred F. Marty, USA Retired, Veterans and Military Resource Center at the college, which was made possible through the generosity of Fred Marty’s son Patrick Marty and his family.

The next meeting of the Penn College Board of Directors is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Pennsylvania College of Technology is a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University