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Penn College Board Approves Plan for Stage IX Building Program

Pennsylvania College of Technology will construct student housing, renovate the former HON Industries facility to accommodate space-restricted programs and refurbish the 89-year-old Klump Academic Center as part of a building program approved Thursday by the College’s Board of Directors.

The Board authorized the College administration to undertake a bond issue of $28.5 million to $32 million to complete those projects and to retrofit the Hager Lifelong Education Center, the Learning Resources Center, the Parkes Automotive Technology Center and the Breuder Advanced Technology and Health Sciences Center for additional instructional uses.

“The Stage IX building program represents an unprecedented opportunity to expand academic and instructional space and to meet the increasing demand for College-owned student housing in an affordable manner,” said Penn College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour. “We expect to enroll an additional 100 students in space-restricted majors by Fall 2004, and the student-housing construction will address the continuing need for high-quality on-campus facilities a significant factor in the enrollment decision for many families.”

Additional factors influencing the administration’s plans are the favorable bond market, the College’s strong financial standing and the extra costs that would be incurred if the projects were to be pursued in piecemeal fashion, Dr. Gilmour said.

The student-housing construction will expand the 414-bed College West facility by 352 beds, bringing the total number of beds available on campus to more than 1,400. This project is expected to be completed in time for occupancy in the Fall 2003 semester. Student-housing revenue will pay for nearly half of the additional $1.9 million in annual debt service that will result from the new bond issue.

In a housing presentation to the Board in October, Penn College Senior Vice President Dr. William J. Martin said the College is a statewide institution, with the number of Penn College students who do not hail from North Central Pennsylvania rising by 55 percent in five years. In addition, 17 percent of freshmen in the Fall 2000 semester reported that finding adequate housing is “a major source of concern” up from 11 percent in 1990. The College entered into the housing market in January 1997, and since that time, student housing has grown to accommodate nearly 1,100 students.

The 104,000-square-foot HON facility, which was acquired through a gift-purchase arrangement last fall, will be renovated to house Collision Repair, Civil Engineering Technology and Automated Manufacturing programs. Moving the Automated Manufacturing program there will allow for expansion of the Plastics and Polymer Technology programs housed in the Advanced Technology and Health Sciences Center. About 25 percent of the former HON building will be reserved for future growth. The facility also will receive exterior, parking-lot and traffic-routing improvements. The work is expected to be completed by the Fall 2003 semester.

Work on the Academic Center, which was constructed in 1913, will include renovating vacated office spaces (those that will relocate to the Student and Administrative Services Center, currently under construction) for optimum use as classrooms and faculty offices. Other work includes repairing or replacing the front steps and paved areas, repointing the facade, and installing central air-conditioning, a new heating system, new rest-room fixtures, and a new fire-alarm system.

In addition, the building’s basement floor will be resurfaced, and new treads will be installed on stairways. Much of this work responds to building-code upgrades and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. All the work is expected to be completed by the Fall 2004 semester.

Underwriters for the 30-year bond issue will be PNC Bank and Mellon Bank. Murray Associates Architects, Harrisburg, will serve as the College’s architectural firm for the projects.

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