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Board Tours Student and Administrative Services Center

The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors met Thursday and approved mid-year budget adjustments, as well as agreements with a manufacturer for problems that may arise from a building material used in the construction of the Lumley Aviation Center. Following the meeting, the Board toured the Student and Administrative Services Center prior to a dedication ceremony for the new facility.

The adjustments to the 2002-03 budget reflect, primarily, the College’s increased enrollment (both Fall 2002 and Spring 2003 easily exceeded projections), as well as the College’s reduced state appropriation. The 1-percent appropriation reduction amounts to $137,410, with $122,880 coming from the Operating Budget and the remainder from the Debt Service budget. An adjustment for an additional 1-percent reduction in the state appropriation will be necessary at the April Board meeting, Penn College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour noted.

Agreements the Board approved with Johns Manville Corp. involve roof construction at the Aviation Center at the Williamsport Regional Airport. The product in question is phenolic foam, which has been shown to interact negatively with roofing decks when roof leaks develop. The resulting chemical reaction causes the decks to deteriorate. Dr. Gilmour said the Aviation Center has a vapor barrier between the foam and the roof deck, which has mitigated damage there. Funds from the settlement will be placed in the College’s Renewal and Replacement Fund to cover the cost of roofing repairs that may be needed in the future.

The Board approved emeritus status for three faculty members: the late Peter Dumanis of the English faculty, Carl Hillyard of the building construction technology faculty and Paul Schriner, formerly of the welding faculty.

“They are all deserving, and it’s regrettable that Peter is not here to enjoy it,” Dr. Gilmour said of Dumanis, who died last year.

The Board learned from Robert M. Fisher, vice president for business affairs, that the recent refinancing of a 1993 bond-issue has reaped savings of $1.25 million for the College, significantly better than anticipated, due to favorable interest rates. The bulk of the savings will be realized in the 2003-04 fiscal year.

Senior Vice President William J. Martin updated the Board on enrollment totals. Enrollment increased to 5,963 students in Fall 2002 (up 7.7 percent from Fall 2001) and to 5,586 in Spring 2003 (up 7.4 percent from Spring 2002). The “new-student” class for Spring 2003 is the second-largest ever, he said, adding, “That bodes very well for the fall (2003) semester.” Applications are running 8 percent ahead of last year’s pace, and tuition deposits are up by a similar margin. “The word regarding enrollment is good,” Dr. Martin advised the Board.

He also apprised the Board of the ongoing national search for a vice president for student affairs. The screening process has been completed, two candidates have visited campus, and an offer of employment may be extended within four to six weeks, Dr. Martin added in time for the April Board meeting.

Barry Stiger, vice president for institutional advancement, said the College recently completed its first Charitable Gift Annuity agreement and also has received substantial donations in support of the Collision Repair program from DuPont Performance Coatings and PPG Industries Inc.

The board heard a presentation by Tom Gregory, dean of the School of Construction and Design Technologies, who noted the School offers 15 majors, including five bachelor’s degrees, seven associate’s degrees and three certificates. Fall 2002 enrollment was 894 students, an increase of 8 percent over Fall 2001. The School employs 44 full-time and 16 part-time faculty, three toolroom attendants and five staff members.

There are five trade-based student organizations within the School, and they participate in on-campus and off-campus projects and compete annually in regional and national competitions. “They do very well against well-known schools,” Gregory said.

Centex Homes recently donated $10,000 to the School for a scholarship fund, Gregory noted, and the firm also donated Personal Digital Assistants worth $5,000 and an additional $10,000 to the School to further support a $234,679 Link-to-Learn Higher Education Technology Grant. The grant is being used to create an eLearning Center to enhance classroom and Distance Learning technology for students, faculty and continuing-education clients. The Residential Construction Technology and Management degree is being offered via Distance Learning.

Gregory told the Board that the HVAC and HVAC Technology majors have been endorsed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America the first in the nation to receive the designation. ACCA also established its first-ever student chapter at Penn College. Recent noteworthy projects involving the School’s students include an award-winning wash bay for the state Department of Transportation, a scorekeeper’s tower and concession stand for the East Lycoming Soccer Association, extensive renovations to Bowman Field and consistent involvement with projects for Habitat for Humanity. In his PowerPoint presentation to the Board, Gregory showed photos of many of the student projects. Veronica M. Muzic, vice president for academic affairs/provost, said the enrollment surge and increased connections with industry reflect a “renaissance” in the School of Construction and Design Technologies.

Dr. Gilmour also told the Board that noncredit education is thriving at the College’s North Campus near Wellsboro, where 1,500 employees (from 10 companies) have received training, and 100 students have taken noncredit courses since July 31.

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