Plans progress for Wilson College library addition

CHAMBERSBURG >> Chambersburg Planning and Zoning Committee has approved the final land development plan for an addition to be constructed to the John Stewart Memorial Library at Wilson College.

The $12 million project is scheduled to begin as early as July and the library is scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2015.

Some challenges from previous land development plans include an upgraded water and gas lines, but they are being looked at, according to Phil Wolgemuth, land use and development director for the borough.

The plan involves restoring the original building, completed in 1925. The 1961 annex will be demolished and replaced with an updated three-story annex and a commons area.

Wilson College President Barbara Mistick told the committee that she was excited to see the “wonderful academic quad” that would be developed on the college.

The building was closed in fall 2011 when the heating system failed. A temporary library was established in the lower level of Lenfest Commons.

As previously reported by the Public Opinion, the college has been working with the state historic preservation office to keep the historic nature of the building.

In April, a land use permit was issued to demolish the annex. The next step in the plan is permitting the relocation of utilities in preparation for demolition, according to Wolgemuth.

Wilson College, founded in 1869 as a women’s college that recently became coeducational, has a fall enrollment of 662, which includes students from 20 states and 14 countries.

Lauren Cappuccio can be contacted at 262-4754.

Razing Library Annex is Next at Wilson College

By Jim Hook @JimHookPO on Twitter

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has concluded that the design for the addition to the library at Wilson College is OK. “The proposed project will have no adverse effect” on the Wilson College Historic District, according to Douglas McLearen, chief of the Division of Archaeology and Resources. He wrote the June 9 letter stating his position after alumna Margaret Killmer of Yarmouth, Maine, had written the PHMC. Killmer said that the proposed addition would overwhelm the original structure, built in 1925.

Kilmer had suggested that the college renovate the existing annex built in the 1960s. The flat-roofed annex is to be demolished in the next couple of days. The proposed addition is larger than the original library, but it does not detract from the original facade or historic orientation because it is located at the rear of the library, according to McLearen. The stone used in the addition is compatible with the original, and the large windows distinguish the addition from the original.

McLearen said he considered the entire historic district — which includes 28 buildings, walkways, lamp posts and landscaping. PHMC does not have a regulatory role in the project since no federal funds are being spent on the $12 million expansion. McLearen’s letter answers Killmer’s objections in detail.

See “The architects, Murray and Associates, have been working with the PHMC for some time, so it really comes as no surprise to us that the design was approved,” said Brian Speer, vice president of marketing and communications at Wilson College. “We are looking at a mid-August groundbreaking with the building scheduled to open for the fall 2015 semester.”

The Stewart Library was closed in 2011 when the heating system failed. Students have been using a temporary arrangement in Lenfest Commons. Jim Hook can be reached at 717-262-4759.

Wilson, Vermont Law Offer Dual Degree Plan

Posted: April 1, 2014
Wilson College and Vermont Law School, the top-ranked environmental law school in the nation, recently forged an agreement that will allow qualified students to earn a bachelor’s degree from Wilson and a master’s degree from VLS in just four years.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Wilson College and Vermont Law School, the top-ranked environmental law school in the nation, recently forged an agreement that will allow qualified students to earn a bachelor’s degree from Wilson and a master’s degree from VLS in just four years.

Through an articulation agreement between the two colleges, Wilson students who qualify can pursue a bachelor’s degree in environmental sustainability at Wilson, followed by guaranteed admission to Vermont Law’s Master of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP) program.

Some credits would be shared between the two institutions and to expedite the master’s program, students would take two online courses from VLS while attending Wilson. After their junior year, they could enter Vermont Law’s summer program. Both degrees would be completed at the same time.

“This agreement with Vermont Law School offers our students an incredible opportunity to earn a degree from Wilson, as well as from one of the top environmental law schools in the country, in just four years,” said Wilson President Barbara K. Mistick. “This is Wilson’s third 3+1 program, which allow students to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at a cost that is less than a four-year bachelor’s degree alone, and dovetail with our efforts to make a quality education more affordable for students and families.”

The agreement will give Wilson students a distinct advantage in gaining admission to Vermont Law.

“We are pleased to offer Wilson students an opportunity to earn a MELP degree from Vermont Law, where they’ll not only learn the law but also how to use it to effect change,” said Cheryl Hanna, vice president for external relations at VLS. “By studying advocacy, legislation, regulations and markets, they will have the tools they need to create a more sustainable world.”

A master’s degree in environmental law and policy can lead to a variety of career options, according to Edward Wells, director of Wilson’s Environmental Studies Program, who facilitated the articulation agreement.

“It prepares graduates for jobs ranging from public service or working at a federal agency like the EPA to running a nonprofit environmental organization” said Wells, who also teaches environmental studies. “Graduates could work as an energy consultant or an environmental educator, or they could continue their studies and obtain a law degree.”

Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; two master’s degrees (Master of Environmental Law and Policy, and Master of Energy Regulation and Law), and three post-J.D. degrees — LL.M. in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LL.M. in Energy Law, and LL.M. in Environmental Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, the South Royalton Legal Clinic and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic.

The 3+1 agreement builds upon the existing relationship between VLS and Wilson, which is known for its environmental studies programs and has a commitment to environmental sustainability as part of its mission statement. The two institutions signed an agreement in 2008 that guaranteed Wilson graduates admission to VLS if they meet standards in grade-point average and entrance exam scores.

For more information, contact the Wilson College Office of Admissions at 800-421-8402 or visit

For more information about Vermont Law School, visit

Wilson College aims to promote updated image

By Jim Hook Public Opinion
Apr. 11 2014
Chambersburg>> Wilson College administrators have stepped up local promotion of the small liberal arts, co-ed campus.

“I look at it as changing the myths of Wilson College,” said Eric Michael, director of Wilson’s Master of Education program. It’s a myth that Wilson College is only for rich girls, or that its educational programs are severely restricted.

“I was just as guilty,” Michael said. “I grew up in the community, and that’s what I thought about the educational opportunity at Wilson College.”

Michael has been trying to change perceptions and forge new relationships in recent months.

Chambersburg area municipal and business leaders on Tuesday will discuss with college administrators the latest changes at the college and its economic impact on the region.

“They are constantly recruiting businesses to come into this area, so we want to make sure they completely understand all the opportunities that are available here at Wilson,” Michael said.

“They know Wilson’s here but they really don’t know what all Wilson offers, and that’s what we want to make sure they understand completely.”

Representatives from the Borough of Chambersburg, Franklin County Area Development Corp., Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce and the office of state Sen. Richard Alloway II, R-Chambersburg, are expected to attend the session at the Harry Brooks Science Complex.

In November, the college had invited area school administrators to a similar gathering in an effort to enroll more local graduates and to foster partnerships with local schools.

The Wilson College Board of Trustees in January 2013 adopted a set of recommendations aimed at expanding enrollment. The measures, known as the Wilson Today plan, include new academic programs, reduced tuition, a student debt buyback plan and coeducation across all programs.

In recent months, the college has added new programs in animal studies and graphic design, as well as a new master’s degree program in accounting. Wilson has also added 3+1 programs, which allow students to get bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just four years in humanities, accountancy and other subjects.

Pennsylvania has 44 small private colleges, but nearly all are located in cities.

“We are one of the unique towns to have a college,” Michael said.

The Wilson College had a fall 2013 enrollment of 662, which includes students from 20 states and 14 countries. The college’s aim is to double enrollment.

Colleges are potent economic engines in a community besides adding to the quality of life, according to Michael.

Wilson contributed $31 million in 2010 to the Pennsylvania economy, according to a study by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania — including employee salaries, employees’ local income taxes, fees paid to area vendors and money spent by Wilson students and their families.

Founded in 1869 as a women’s college, Wilson offers bachelor’s degrees in 25 majors and master’s degrees in education, the humanities and accountancy.

For more information, contact Michael at 717-264-4141, Ext. 3109, or

Wilson College Officials Dispel Myths

Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:41 pm Herald Mail

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Wilson College officials met with local business leaders Tuesday to dispel some myths about the college.

“We wanted to make sure people were aware of the resources that are here at Wilson College and dispel any of the myths that are out there,” said Eric Michael, director of Wilson’s master of education program. Many believe Wilson is an expensive, elite institution, one of many myths about Wilson, Michael said.

Mary Ann Naso, Wilson’s vice president for enrollment, said Wilson recently reduced its tuition.

“We lowered it (tuition) by 17 percent, which translates to $5,000,” Naso said. “So students entering Wilson this coming fall will be paying $23,745 in tuition.”

However, with the financial package, Naso said the average tuition is less than $15,000.

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., asked why the college doesn’t advertise the $15,000 tuition price upfront.

Naso said the college’s job is to show the value of the college upfront.

“Our average class size is 13 students. You’re getting every penny that you’re paying for,” Naso said. “There are no teaching assistants. Faculty members know the students.”

She said the median family income of parents for students coming into Wilson is $74,833.

That dispels the second myth that Wilson is only for wealthy girls with horses, Michael said.

Most people look at Wilson as offering programs for just veterinary tech, equestrian sciences and animal sciences, but Wilson offers much more, he said.

“We want to make sure that Wilson is on the radar screen,” Michael said.

Wilson has 25 majors and 41 minors.

Carolyn Hart, Wilson’s program director of nursing, joined the discussion by introducing the college’s new registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing program, or RN to BSN.

She joined Wilson last September and said her sole purpose was to bring nursing to Wilson.

“We are starting an RN to BSN program that opens in the summer,” she said.

Hart had her first recruiting day last week and said she already has 10 people on board to fill out an application.

“I think it just speaks to what’s needed here in the community,” Hart said.

“We are doing the RN to BSN online because that is what suits most nurses’ schedules,” she said.

Hart said the college is already looking ahead to a master’s program, and an RN to MSN program.

James Hay, Wilson’s assistant professor of accounting, discussed a new master’s degree program in accounting, as well as a 3+1 program, which allows students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting in just four years.

“It’s actually cheaper than getting the BS in accounting in four years,” he said

The college will admit male residential students to the liberal-arts college this fall.

“It is a co-ed world — to open the doors to young men, I think, was a very important thing for this institution to do. Whether some people were not happy with it or not, the reality is they were not sending their daughters here,” Naso said.

David G. Sciamanna, president of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, asked about enrollment projections.

“We have over 900 applications (right now for the freshman class). All of last year, we had 500.

We’re hoping to enroll 160 students up from 100” (to the traditional undergraduate college), Naso said.

In five years, college officials would like to see enrollment figures at 600 to 800, she said.

Michael said Tuesday’s meeting was beneficial, and he asked that the dialogue continue.

“Sometimes you don’t realize what’s in your own backyard. There are a lot of things that are overlooked,” he said. “Some of it is Wilson’s fault, and we are trying to get that word out of the changes we’ve made in both program and offerings.”