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Board Re-Elects Officers, Views Design for Welding Expansion


In the lone action item on Thursday’s agenda, the Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors retained its slate of officers for 2017-18. The board also was presented with design plans for the grant-funded expansion of the college’s popular welding program.

Sen. Gene Yaw was re-elected chair of the board. Robert N. Pangborn, vice chair, and Joseph J. Doncsecz, treasurer, retain their roles, as well. Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour will continue to function as secretary to the board. Suzanne T. Stopper remains assistant treasurer, and Valerie A. Baier continues as assistant secretary.

The board heard a presentation from Dave Cotner, dean of industrial, computing and engineering technologies, and Benedict H. Dubbs, owner of Murray Associates Architects, Harrisburg, on the design for the expansion of the college’s welding facility, made possible in part by a $2 million grant provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The expansion increases the size of welding-related instructional space in the Avco-Lycoming Metal Trades Center to approximately 40,000 square feet.

Cotner said the expansion will allow the welding program to grow the curriculum and enroll at least 60 more students annually. He noted the expansion will have dedicated areas for aspects like rigging, crane operations and “cleanroom” activities. He said there is a waiting list for the welding program, which has resulted in some students going elsewhere to complete their education.

“We have outgrown our space,” Cotner explained, adding, “This allows us to alleviate that scenario for quite some time.”

Dubbs showed renderings of the expanded MTC exterior, which will resemble the architectural style of other facilities in that part of campus, including the Parkes Automotive Technology Center.

The area between the welding expansion and College Avenue Labs will allow for a plaza-type environment while providing some outdoor welding spaces for students. Dubbs said plans call for a dedicated entrance from West Third Street.

Gilmour said some challenges lie ahead, including securing approvals for the Third Street entrance and compensating for the loss of some parking in that part of campus, but she said the expansion addresses a vital need “for the foreseeable future.”

Thursday's Board of Directors meeting summarized“Our plan right now is to go to bid in January on this building,” she said.

The expected completion date for the project is January 2019.

The board heard an update on the college’s NCAA Division III affiliation process from Elliott Strickland, vice president for student affairs. He spoke of the continued success of Penn College student-athletes in the North Eastern Athletic Conference. The college has fielded 131 scholar-athletes, 52 All-Conference selections, two Rookies of the Year, a Coach of the Year, a conference championship and a conference runner-up.

The college recruited 78 new student-athletes for Fall 2017 (20 percent from out-of-state), bringing the total overall to 243, a 26-percent increase from 2013-14.

Strickland suggested the most significant impact of NCAA membership, though, stems from enhanced school pride, manifested by improved attendance at athletic events, a successful launch to the Wildcat Club booster organization, and the large number of students wearing Wildcat athletic attire around campus this year.

Mark Stevenson, senior regional investment advisor with Wilmington Trust, reviewed the college’s investment portfolio as of June 30, the end of the fiscal year. He also provided an update on current market conditions and an outlook for future economic indicators.

Tom Gregory, associate vice president for instruction, updated the board on 11 new faculty for Fall 2017, including three who are Penn College alumni.

In her comments to the board, Glimour said 900 participants are expected for the Homecoming and Parent & Family Weekend events taking place this weekend. She also noted there are 237 employers registered for the Oct. 17 Career Fair, with another 20 on a waiting list. A veterans resource area will be dedicated in November; Gilmour said more information is forthcoming for that event.

In his comments to the board, Yaw again noted with pride the work that two Penn College alumni are performing for the Susquehanna Valley Thruway Project. He said it is indicative of the quality of graduates the college produces. David Wise, ’92, and Margaret Jackson, ’08, are helping to lead the $670 million project, one of the largest ever conducted by the state Department of Transportation. Wise is the construction manager for PennDOT; Jackson is the design project engineer.

The next Penn College Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Dec. 14.

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