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Penn College Board Authorizes Bond Refinancing

The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday authorized the refinancing of two bond series (from 2000 and 2002) in order to generate projected savings for the college totaling between $5.85 million and $6.95 million.

The projected present-value savings from refunding the $39.37 million 2000 bond series range from $4.66 million to $5.03 million, depending on the method chosen. The projected present-value savings from refunding the $31.56 million 2002 bond series range from $1.19 million to $1.92 million, depending on the method chosen. The total projected present-value savings range from $5.85 million to $6.95 million.

“Saving money is right at the top of my list,” college President Davie Jane Gilmour told the board before it voted unanimously to proceed with refinancing if the market warrants.

Board of Directors meeting recapped for college communityThe decision about the method does not have to be made until closer to the time of the issuance of the bonds. If rates change, so that the refinancing does not offer an appropriate level of savings, the college will not proceed.

“We can put the brakes on anytime we want,” said Suzanne T. Stopper, vice president for finance/CFO, who added the college must also obtain a public rating to accomplish the refinancing in today’s market.

The board action allows the college administration to request that the Lycoming County Authority issue tax-exempt bonds on the college’s behalf in an amount not to exceed $75 million. The bonds reflect no new money, Gilmour and Stopper noted.

The 2000 and 2002 bond series funded construction or renovation projects at a variety of college facilities, including the Student and Administrative Services Center, Rose Street Apartments, College Avenue Labs, the Klump Academic Center, and the Hager Lifelong Education Center, among others. The bonds also funded some restructuring of prior debt.

In other business, the board approved a completed Foundations of Excellence recommendation for inclusion in the college’s Strategic Plan. The document was previously presented to the board with a note under Strategic Goal No. 3, stating that more text would be inserted after FoE recommendations went through College Council, which they did earlier this week.

Presentations made to the board included an investment report by MTB Investment Advisors and another on Dining Services and Residence Life by Crissy L. McGinness, director of dining services, and Brian M. Johnson, director of residence life.

McGinness said Dining Services now offers 10 units staffed by more than 200 employees (with an average length of service of nine years). The Keystone Dining Room, the largest facility, feeds 2,500 students a day. The soon-to-be-completed Capitol Eatery in the new Dauphin Hall will seat 326 students. That facility is projected to serve 2,000 meals daily.

Residence Life, which has 60 student and staff employees (including 50 Resident Assistants), now offers 1,710 beds on campus, Johnson noted. The newly opened Dauphin Hall has 277 residents.

Programming includes Wildcat Chats with RAs, Learning Communities (at Dauphin Hall) and increased focus on academic success, Johnson said.

The Learning Communities consist of students from the same major who live in the same area of the building. Each community is guided by a faculty mentor, who plans programs in and out of the residence hall. The ultimate goal is to create out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities for students. The four communities formed this year are Automotive, Health Sciences, Hospitality Management and Leadership. There are approximately 65 students participating in the initiative.

Sustainability is promoted in Dining Services and Residence Life through composting, the recycling of fryer oil with a biodiesel firm, the use of Energy Star equipment, trayless dining units, single-stream recycling in all facilities and student-driven recycling in the residence halls, Johnson and McGinness noted.

McGinness and Johnson also reported on an assessment survey reflecting 939 responses from 1,507 on-campus students. Based on a scale of 7, satisfaction totals were: RAs, 6.0; Safety and Security, 5.73; Facilities, 5.51; and Dining Services, 5.21.

In her remarks to the board, Gilmour said the successful Parent and Family Weekend featured participation from more than 400 families.

Board Chairman Robert E. Dunham reported that a recent Penn College Foundation Auction on campus raised $58,000 for student scholarships.