Pa. Department of Education Approves Wilson Charter

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has approved changes to the charter of Wilson College. The charter, submitted to the department in May 2013, contained updated language to clearly reflect the college’s shift to coeducation in the undergraduate residential program, along with additional administrative updates.

The Jan. 6 PDE decision from Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq comes following a June 2014 informational hearing that was automatically triggered by protests made after the charter text was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

In its report approving the charter revision, PDE states, “Wilson’s decision to allow the admission of male residential students is a decision within the purview of its Board of Trustees.” The report also notes that “other proposed amendments also are not in violation of relevant law, regulations, standards or qualifications.”

Four Wilson alumnae served as limited participants in the informational hearing, offering testimony in opposition to the charter changes. They argued that the college acted improperly by moving forward with coeducation prior to PDE approval.

The PDE report acknowledges that Wilson filed its application well in advance of admitting male students, but states that the college should have received approval before moving forward with coeducation. However, the department does not believe this to be a reason to deny the charter application or impose other restrictions according to the report.

“We are happy to have the department’s affirming decision and to continue the successful work of the Wilson Today Plan,” said Barbara Tenney, board chair.

In January 2013, the Wilson College Board of Trustees approved the five-point Wilson Today plan aimed at ensuring a sustainable financial future for the private college. In addition to extending coeducation to the residential undergraduate program, the plan also included value and affordability initiatives, new academic programs, infrastructure improvements and increased marketing efforts.

The plan, which was in place during the 2013-14 recruitment year, has already begun to show progress. In August, Wilson welcomed its largest class of new students in more than 40 years and saw applications more than double over the previous year. In addition to the 24 percent of applications that came from male students, the college had a 43 percent increase in female applicants, increasing the reach of the former women’s college.

“Growth in our enrollment creates a more vibrant academic and campus life experience and provides a financially sustainable future for the college,” said Wilson President Barbara K. Mistick.

The increase in applications and student enrollment also represents a positive response to the college’s $5,000 tuition rollback and a first-of-its-kind student debt buyback program. This past year also brought the reopening of the renovated McElwain and Davison residence halls, the opening of a new student center on the campus, and a groundbreaking for the renovation of the John Stewart Memorial Library project.

“The whole campus is energized that the Wilson Today plan is beginning to bear fruit,” Mistick said recently. “The progress is the result of the entire Wilson community coming together to make the plan successful. And with our continued commitment, we expect to see an even greater effect on overall enrollment moving forward.”

Since the Wilson Today plan’s approval, new undergraduate programs in animal studies, graphic design, global studies, health and physical education, health science and nursing have been approved by trustees along with graduate programs in accountancy, fine arts, nursing and healthcare management for sustainability. In addition, the college has implemented increased marketing efforts, which have substantially improved Wilson’s visibility.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cathy Mentzer, Manager of Media Relations
Phone: 717-262-2604 (office)
717-372-3772 (cell)
Email: cathy.mentzer@wilson.edu

Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college offering bachelor’s degrees in 29 majors and master’s degrees in education, the humanities, accountancy and nursing. Wilson is committed to providing an affordable education that offers value to its students beyond graduation.

Located in Chambersburg, Pa., the college has a fall 2014 enrollment of 759, which includes students from 17 states and 14 countries. Visit www.wilson.edu for more information.

Wilson College Preparing for Aesthetics, Safety Improvements

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Wilson College and elected officials from the Chambersburg area on Thursday celebrated the state funding that will lead to sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and crosswalks on U.S. 11.

The college’s streetscape project totaling $465,000 will occur next year as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation paves U.S. 11 in the borough of Chambersburg.

“It really allows us to re-create our front door to the college,” Wilson College President Barbara K. Mistick said.

Mistick, Chambersburg Borough Council President Allen Coffman and state Sen. Richard Alloway II offered remarks Thursday to commemorate funding secured through the state’s transportation bill passed in 2013.

The project will include more than 3,000 feet of curbs and sidewalks — an amount that matches all of the work done in the borough in a typical year, Coffman said.

The initiative will lead to the closure of the Wilson College entrance flanked by pillars. Utility lines will be buried underground, and the intersection of Park Avenue and U.S. 11 will be upgraded for pedestrian safety.

“Funding our roads, bridges, our (pedestrian) safety and sidewalks — that’s a core function of government,” said Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York.

Alloway said he wants to be part of Wilson College’s growth as an educational leader. He said students’ safety in the downtown campus and aesthetics are part of that.
“With anything, first impressions make such a mark on you,” he said.

Jennifer Fitch is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via email at jenniferf@herald-mail.com.

Wilson, Chambersburg Officials Tout Upcoming Streetscape Project

By Amber South  asouth@publicopinionnews.com @AESouthPO on Twitter

CHAMBERSBURG >> A nearly half-million dollar project will soon be launched to improve pedestrian safety at Wilson College and improve the aesthetic connection between the campus and downtown Chambersburg.

Wilson President Barbara Mistick, Chambersburg Borough Council President Allen Coffman and state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Chambersburg, came together Thursday morning to celebrate receipt of a $465,429 grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Multimodal Transportation Fund and share information on the streetscape project it will pay for.

“We’re standing here today talking about a partnership that will take the largest amount of sidewalk, the largest pedestrian space — largest frontage in the Borough of Chambersburg and transforming that in a way that’s going to be permanent,” Mistick said.

The project will allow Wilson to “recreate our front door,” Mistick added. Alloway later followed that up, saying the transformed landscape will provide a better first impression for visitors entering the borough from the north.

The entire perimeter of the campus along U.S. 11 on the borough’s brim will be restructured with new sidewalks, lights and other amenities. According to Mistick, a sidewalk will begin at Sharpe House on the south end of campus, move around the following two bends, and proceed up to the Menno Haven campus.

It will take nearly 3,000 feet of sidewalk, Coffman said. That is about the same amount that the borough put down in all of last year in various downtown improvement projects, he added.

The campus entrance located at the first bend when traveling north will be closed, Mistick said. The entrance has been the location of several vehicle accidents over the years, many of which damaged the pillars on either side of the driveway.

The project may include moving above-ground utilities under the ground, Mistick said.

The start of the project is tied to PennDot’s schedule for resurfacing U.S. 11 in the area, Coffman said. That should happen sometime in 2015, but he did not want to give a more specific time frame.

A first step will be a traffic study, which among other things will determine whether a traffic light is installed at the campus entrance at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Park Avenue. Alloway noted that the busy pedestrian area can be dangerous.

The Borough of Chambersburg received notice of the grant award on Sept. 9, Coffman said. According to Alloway, that money is available because of a controversial transportation bill the legislature approved in 2013 in order to improve roads and bridges throughout the state.

Amber South can be reached at 262-4771.

President Mistick Visits China with FriendlyPA Initiative

Posted: November 20, 2014

Wilson College President Barbara K. Mistick recently traveled to China with a delegation from FriendlyPA, an economic development initiative aimed at building partnerships and promoting exchange activities between Pennsylvania and Chinese educational institutions.

During the two-week trip, which included visits to the cities of Chengdu and Beijing, a FriendlyPA team representing 18 private and public Pennsylvania colleges and five high schools attended college fairs and met with Chinese universities. Wilson was one of four institutions whose representatives made the trip to China in late October with the FriendlyPA team. The others were Robert Morris University, West Chester University and Lycoming College.

“The FriendlyPA initiative aims to help brand Pennsylvania as a destination for quality education in the U.S.,” Mistick said. “The trip was a great success, from my perspective, and it was wonderful to be able to represent Wilson and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – and all of the educational resources Pennsylvania has to offer the people of China.”

A program of Pittsburgh-based, nonprofit economic development organization called the Idea Foundry, FriendlyPA has a number of economic development partners, including the Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and VisitPittsburgh.

“Our mission is to connect families and students with the educational opportunities that best match their needs, personalities, and educational and career goals,” according to the FriendlyPA website. “FriendlyPA also strives to build partnerships between Chinese and Pennsylvania schools to facilitate bilateral education exchange activities.”

The FriendlyPA delegation was well-received at events such as the China Education Expo—China’s largest annual educational event—where the group manned an information booth and spoke to students interested in coming to the U.S. and their parents.

“Because of our consortium approach, Chinese students and parents could speak with representatives from a variety of institutions,” said Mistick. “That seemed to make our booth more appealing than the booths for single institutions.” In addition, FriendlyPA’s Chinese-speaking representatives helped smooth communication with parents and students, which had a significant impact, according to Mistick.

In Beijing, the FriendlyPA team talked with more than 300 parents and students over two days, while in Chengdu, more than 80 students and parents visited with the FriendlyPA delegation, according to FriendlyPA Manager of Greater China Initiatives Lingling Zhu.

While in China, Mistick and other FriendlyPA team members visited the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu to discuss possible exchange programs with schools in Pennsylvania.

In the next few months, the FriendlyPA China team will continue conversations with Chinese students and parents, including helping them apply to member schools like Wilson. The group, which plans to establish a permanent office in Beijing, will also continue discussions with Chinese universities about formingpartnerships with member institutions.

According to a recent report from the Institute of International Education, Pennsylvania ranks sixth in the United States for the number of international students hosted by colleges and universities. A total of 41,446 international students studied in Pennsylvania in 2013-14, an 11.2 percent increase from the previous year, the report states.

More information about FriendlyPA can be found at its website, www.friendlypa.com.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark Blackmon, Director of Communications
Phone: 717-262-2607
Email: mark.blackmon@wilson.edu

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Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college offering bachelor’s degrees in 29 majors and master’s degrees in education, the humanities, accountancy and nursing. Wilson is committed to providing an affordable education that offers value to its students beyond graduation.

Located in Chambersburg, Pa., the college has a fall 2014 enrollment of 759, which includes students from 17 states and 14 countries. Visit www.wilson.edu for more information.

Wilson Awarded $2 Million Title III Grant from U.S. Dept. of Education

Posted: September 9, 2014
The U.S. Department of Education has approved a $2 million Title III grant for Wilson College under the department’s Strengthening Institutions Program, which is aimed at helping postsecondary institutions expand their ability to serve low-income students and strengthen academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The U.S. Department of Education has approved a $2 million Title III grant for Wilson College under the department’s Strengthening Institutions Program, which is aimed at helping postsecondary institutions expand their ability to serve low-income students and strengthen academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability.

The grant, which will be distributed over five years, will be used to improve enrollment, retention, persistence and graduation rates for Wilson College students through a set of goals, including strengthened academic programs and academic support services, updated technology and ongoing professional development for Wilson employees.

The grant — by far the largest federal grant awarded to Wilson in the college’s 145-year history — is consistent with Wilson’s goal of strengthening the educational experience and helping students maximize their academic potential, according to Wilson College President Barbara K. Mistick.

“We are so excited to receive this grant. It really comes at a wonderful time for us,” Mistick said. “We just welcomed our largest class in 40 years, we’re starting construction of the library renovation project and we are seeing great momentum from the Wilson Today plan that we instituted last year.”

The Wilson Today plan, approved by the Board of Trustees in January 2013, is a set of initiatives to ensure that the college remains a thriving institution well into the future. The five-part plan includes a tuition reduction and student debt buyback program, infrastructure improvements, coeducation and new academic programs.

This is the third time Wilson has applied for the highly competitive Title III grant. The difference this time around included changes under way to reconfigure technology at the college, construction of a learning commons as part of the Reimagining the John Stewart Memorial Library construction project and proposed programs to help support and retain underprepared students.

Wilson, like colleges in general, is seeing a growing percentage of students who are arriving academically underprepared. This can be the result of students coming from underperforming school systems or, in other cases, first-generation college students who lack the support systems that can prepare them to meet the expectations of college-level academics. At Wilson, 55 percent of undergraduate students are first generation, 46 percent are eligible for federal Pell grants for lower income families and approximately 96 percent of students receive some form of aid.

Wilson’s application for the Title III grant has five overall objectives:

  • Increase enrollment through strengthening academic programs that will bolster student retention – the percentage of students who stay at a college from fall of their first year to the fall semester of their second year. These actions include creating a developmental reading and writing course; strengthening developmental mathematics courses; and creating an information literacy course that incorporates technology and critical thinking skills.
  • Increase retention and graduation rates for underprepared students through revitalizing the first-year student experience, enacting best practices that support at-risk students, establishing a learning commons and academic support center in the Stewart library building and strengthening academic, career and personal advising for students, among other things.
  • Strengthen academic technology infrastructure, leadership and applications of technology to instruction and academic support, including creating a chief information officer position and expanding academic technology assistance in the new learning commons.
  • Build capacity for data-driven academic and institutional decision-making.
  • Provide a professional development program for faculty, administrators, and staff.

Last year the department awarded $20.1 million through its Strengthening Institutions Program to just 39 colleges and universities nationwide. To be eligible for funds under SIP, “institutions must be serving a substantial number of students receiving need-based federal student aid and have low per-student expenditures,” according to the department.