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Penn College Board approves property sale, elects officers

The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday approved the sale of two college properties and elected officers for 2022-23.

The board also welcomed two new members and heard a presentation on global experiences from two faculty members from the School of Business, Arts & Sciences.

At the beginning of the meeting, Board Chair Sen. Gene Yaw welcomed Yvonne Gaudelius, vice president and dean for undergraduate education at Penn State, and Virginia A. Teachey, associate vice president for finance for the university, to their first meeting as members. They were appointed to fill positions formerly held by John J. Romano and Joseph J. Doncsecz, both of whom retired from the board in June.

Yaw then asked everyone to observe a moment of silence in honor of former board member Michael J. DiRaimo, who died July 29. DiRaimo served on the board from 2017-21.

Chief of Staff Patrick Marty told the board the college intends to sell a property at 1359 W. Third St. in Williamsport to Lycoming County. The 8.94-acre parcel is situated just west of main campus. The college originally developed the large, flat portion of the property as a parking lot required to meet onerous parking requirements of the City of Williamsport. The lot was always highly underutilized and – with amendments to the city’s parking ordinance last year – is no longer needed by the college. The purchase will be subject to independent appraisal.

Also approved for sale to the county, Marty said, are two parcels on Fritz Station Road in Brady Township. Both parcels were conveyed to the college decades ago by the federal government.

The southernmost parcel, which is 64 acres, is largely unused wooded land, situated just south of the college’s heavy equipment operator training site, which is being retained. After sale to the county, instructional use (for plant identification purposes by students) can continue.

The additional 10-acre parcel, underneath a railroad right-of-way, is along the Susquehanna River on the eastern edge of the heavy equipment training site, but safely far enough away to not impact the instructional area.

Board summaryLycoming County has been the lead partner in all local rails-to-trails conversions. The purchase of the parcels by the county will be subject to independent appraisal and may additionally require federal regulatory approval.

The board elected its slate of officers for 2022-23. They are: Yaw, chair; Robert N. Pangborn, vice chair; and Teachey, treasurer. President Michael J. Reed will serve as secretary. Serving as assistant treasurer will be Suzanne T. Stopper, senior vice president for finance/CFO. Valerie A. Baier, coordinator of president’s office operations, will serve as assistant secretary. (Secretaries and assistants need not be actual members of the board of directors.)

John F. Chappo, assistant professor of history/history of technology, and Rob Cooley, associate professor of anthropology/environmental science, presented to the board on global experiences at Penn College, which began again this year after a pandemic-related hiatus.

Chappo explained there are two different models of experiences offered: service-learning and short-term experiential education abroad. He thanked Reed and the board for their ongoing support of global experiences.

Global experiences completed this year are:

  • Automotive focus, to France and Italy, led by faculty member Roy H. Klinger.
  • Architecture and sustainable design focus, to Spain, led by faculty member Naim N. Jabbour.
  • Culinary and hospitality management focus, to Italy, led by faculty member Mary G. Trometter.
  • A human services & restorative justice service-learning trip to Alaska, led by Cooley.
  • Machining and industrial engineering focus, to Germany (courtesy of a National Science Foundation grant and led by faculty member Richard K. Hendricks Jr.)

Global experiences planned for 2022-23 are:

  • A medical mission to Guatemala, led by faculty member Christine Kavanagh.
  • Automotive focus, to France and Italy, again led by Klinger.
  • Architecture and sustainable design focus, to Paris and Prague, again led by Jabbour.
  • A human services & restorative justice service-learning trip to California, again led by Cooley.

Cooley presented a PowerPoint on the 2022 trip to Alaska by human services & restorative justice students. The immersive, service-learning experience featured a conference on domestic violence, hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage for YWCA of Alaska. The students also toured the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska. The students enjoyed a guided hike of Eagle River and a trip to Matanuska Glacier, among other activities.

Cooley noted many of the students had not traveled much previously; three had never flown before. He said many of the students who participate in these trips would not be able to afford them were it not for the financial support of the college and the generosity of donors.

“The support received this year paid for every one of these experiences,” he explained.

Both Cooley and Chappo said that tailoring global experiences to specific academic majors has generated much more interest among students.

In his comments to the board, Reed, who was participating in his first board meeting as president, welcomed the college’s new vice president for academic affairs and provost, Nesli Alp, and the special assistant to the president for inclusion transformation, Nate Woods Jr. Woods began his duties on July 18; Alp started with the college on Aug. 1.

The president recapped how the college had its accreditation reaffirmed for another eight years by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. He also noted that the Fall 2022 Career Fair, scheduled for Oct. 4, “has already sold out” for employers looking to hire Penn College graduates.

Reed reminded the board that the Penn College episode of “The College Tour” debuts on Amazon Prime later this month, and he invited members to a campus launch party and episode premiere set for Aug. 25. He noted that the college will award its first-ever graduate degrees at Summer Commencement on Aug. 6, and 20 Little League World Series teams from around the globe will be on campus for a pre-Grand Slam Parade cookout on Aug. 15.

He wrapped up his presentation by noting that the Legacy Campaign raised $9.6 million this year, and $37 million (including equipment and in-kind donations) has been raised over the past five years.

In his remarks, Yaw recapped the flurry of activity on campus this year, referencing the retirement of longtime President Davie Jane Gilmour, the selection of a new president (Reed) and provost (Alp), board retirements and new board appointees. “This has been a really busy time,” he said.

Board member Zack Moore congratulated Yaw on his election to another term as board chair. “You really put your heart and soul into this,” he said.

The next regularly scheduled Penn College Board of Directors meeting is Oct. 6.

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