Wilson College launches rehab/construction projects

By AMBER SOUTH and JIM HOOK, Staff writers Chambersburg Public Opinion PublicOpinionOnline.com

Wilson College will continue its transformation to a co-ed institution with a number of construction and modernization projects this summer.

With male students age 22 and older being admitted as commuters this fall, the campus will undergo building renovations, facility updates and a general refreshing of its overall look.

The renovation of McElwain/Davison Hall will be a major project starting this summer, costing $2.64 million, said Cathy Mentzer, media relations manager. Nicknamed MacDav, it is one of the campus’ highest-occupancy residence halls, said Brian Speer, vice president of communications and marketing. It shares a building with Lenfest Commons, which is home to the dining hall, book store and student gathering spaces.

Work on MacDav will include new floors, ceilings and mattresses; painting; updates to lounges, laundry and the community kitchen; the addition of air conditioning; upgrades to mechanical and electrical systems; and improving handicap access per the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Design work will start this month and construction will take place through the fall semester. The building is expected to be ready for the spring 2014 semester, Mentzer said. It has been a long time since any work has been done to update the building, Speer said.

Work on a temporary student center will start this month and cost $500,000, Mentzer said. Completion is expected by mid fall.

The project became necessary when the campus library’s heating system failed and those operations moved to Sarah’s Coffeehouse in Lenfest Commons. That facility was the main student gathering place, so the student center will fill that need at least on a temporary basis, Mentzer said. The student center will be moved into the space that is now the fitness center in Lenfest Commons. A ramp that runs through the area will be taken out. Upholstered furniture, a TV and a kitchenette and tables will go in. Furniture and tables can be moved around to accommodate various social events, Mentzer said.

“(Students) want to have food events in there regularly,” she said.

An enclosed game room will be put at the back of the student center. It will also be a flexible area for social events.

The fitness center will move to a space at the end of MacDav that is currently referred to as the old gym.

“Between those three projects – the MacDav, the student center and the fitness center – it’s going to create a really nice hub in the center of campus that’s newly renovated,” Speer said.

Smaller projects will revitalize the outdoor surroundings, with fresh pavement on walking paths, new sidewalks, and painting to the exterior of Lenfest Commons and Norland Hall, Mentzer said.

Frank E. Gannett Memorial Field House will see $55,000 in improvements, including upgrading locker rooms and installing new padding and backboards at the basketball court.

Another $55,000 will go toward hiring a consultant to develop a campus enhancement plan on needed facility upgrades, Mentzer said. Possibilities include buildings, grounds, athletics and signage.

As initiatives developed this winter by the Commission on Shaping the Future of Wilson College begin to take shape, it is likely that more students than ever will be available to enjoy the campus upgrades. The commission was a 23-member panel representing all campus interest groups and tasked with coming up with ideas to increase enrollment and financial sustainability.

“(The upgrades) will definitely help in both attracting and retaining students,” Speer said.


Wilson College Welcomes First Head Men’s Golf Coach

Byline: Jameson Wallace named coach of inaugural athletic program

Posted: August 19, 2013

The Wilson College athletic department is pleased to name Jameson Wallace as head men’s golf coach, earning him the honors of being the first coach in the history of the program. He will immediately begin preparations for the debut of the men’s golf program in the fall of 2014.

“Wilson College is fortunate to add Jameson Wallace to our coaching staff and to have established a great relationship with the Chambersburg Country Club. Jameson brings a high level of professionalism and experience to our staff”, said Wilson athletic director Lori Frey. “He will be recruiting over the next year to field Wilson’s first men’s golf team during the 2014-15 seasons. They will practice and compete at the County Club.”

Wallace currently serves as the general manager and head golf professional at Chambersburg Country Club, where he is responsible for the management and event planning of the non-profit private club. As a certified PGA Professional, he has provided over 400 hours of private golf lessons and has hosted numerous clinics and camps. Wallace also is the owner and proprietor of Wallace Golf, LLC, a retail golf merchandise establishment combined with a small private club, located in Scotland, Pennsylvania. As an entrepreneur, he has experience in all areas of business management, including the administration of a seasonal golf shop and overseeing corporate lines of credit.

Prior to his current position, Wallace was head golf professional at Grande Dunes Member Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from August 2005 through March 2009. While at Grande Dunes he assisted in the management of a for- profit club and implemented new operational standards and procedures. During his time at Grande Dunes, Wallace earned the professional recognition of being selected as a staff member of 2008 PGA Resort (Grande Dunes) and Private Merchandiser of the Year.

Wallace achieved several professional recognitions during his golf tenure. In 2008, he was named PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year of the Carolinas Section. In January of 2008 Wallace was elected as a Class A PGA Professional and became PGA Certified in Retail in September 2008. He currently serves as a member of the Association of Golf Merchandisers as well as a member of the Golf Business Network.

“I’m excited to be given the opportunity to build something great here at Wilson. These are exciting times on campus and in the community. For us to be able to grow the reach and footprint of the College via a competitive golf team is tremendous. The team will be able to practice at a wonderful facility and have access to superb resources”, said Wallace. “The group of students will truly have a unique opportunity to set the tone for Wilson College golf for many years to come.”

Wallace begins his collegiate coaching career with the opportunity to write his program’s history. He will begin this year with the recruitment of members of the first Phoenix men’s golf team. This program is one of five men’s programs scheduled to make their debut in the next three years as Wilson College makes its transition to a coed college.

Former Carnegie Libraries director heads up ‘rescue’ of Wilson College in Chambersburg

By Debra Erdley


Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Barbara Mistick knew she was taking on a challenge when she became president of Wilson College in 2011.

Enrollment at the tiny women’s college in Chambersburg that alumnae and students sued to keep from closing in 1979 had dwindled to fewer than 700 students. The college library was closed for repairs, and the school faced the challenge of $1 million a year payments on a science building due in 2019.

Fresh from six years as director of the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, which she shepherded through a major transition, Mistick, 58, relished the challenge to “be an agent of change” at Wilson.

“When you see these things before you take the job, they are numbers on a piece of paper; when you’re sitting in the seat, everything is in Technicolor,” Mistick said.

Though many of Pennsylvania colleges began planning for the state’s shrinking demographics years ago and began aggressive campaigns to meet enrollment goals, Wilson, a 143-year-old school with loyal alumnae, seemed locked in time.

That would change quickly under Mistick, who started a study commission — too quickly, some alumnae say.

In January 2013, Wilson trustees reduced tuition by $5,000 a year to $23,745 and adopted a program to buy back up to $10,000 in federal loans for students who graduated in four years with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher. They agreed to admit men in the residential college beginning in 2014.

“We have a rich history here, and we want to preserve that. But we really want to double our enrollment by 2020. That’s our goal for our both graduate and undergraduate programs,” Mistick said. She said Wilson is boosting recruitment and focusing on adult degree programs as well as degree and certificate completion. The school added a division of health sciences and will emphasize financial literacy to ensure students don’t take on too much debt on the way to graduation.

Brian Speer, Wilson’s vice president of marketing and communications, said the college is on track to enroll 110-115 freshman this fall, up from 95 last fall.

But the decision to take the school co-ed remains under fire.

Gretchen Van Ness, a Boston lawyer and 1980 Wilson graduate who represented her junior class in the 1979 lawsuit, said the change was rammed through without adequate review.

Van Ness, who was on the board of trustees from 2001-10, said some Wilson alumnae are asking the school to reconsider that decision. Some again are considering legal action.

“We knew things had to change, but we have a rich 143-year history, and this comes at a time when women’s colleges are flourishing,” Van Ness said.

Recent Wilson graduate Leslie Hoover, 22, of State College, sympathizes with those sentiments.

“It would have been nice to stay a women’s college, but part of the mission of the college is to be there for the future. And if offering what it has to undergraduate males will allow it to flourish, then that’s what needed to be done,” Hoover said.

Seton Hill University President JoAnn Boyle ushered the Greensburg school through a transition that enabled it to grow from a struggling women’s college 25 years ago to a flourishing co-ed university with an osteopathic medical school and an orthodontics school. Boyle has known Mistick, who once headed Seton Hill’s Center for Women in Business, for decades.

“I don’t know what kind of additive to her water she had, but she must have had something to take this one,” Boyle said. “When you just look at the numbers in an objective way, it looks extremely challenging. … I think it’s a great plan. I just hope they have time to see it lead to a positive conclusion.”

Debra Erdley is a Trib Total Media staff writer. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or


Copyright © 2013 — Trib Total Media

Wilson College buyback program part of a plan to increase enrollment




7:00 AM EDT, June 2, 2013


Leslie Hoover graduated from Wilson College in May with a double major in accounting and economics. She’s one of the fortunate ones to graduate debt-free. Some of her friends weren’t as lucky and are scrambling to find jobs.

Six months after you stop taking classes, your federal student loan bills come due, Hoover said.

College seniors with student loans graduate with an average of more than $25,000 in debt, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Wilson College is helping ease the burden of student loans by offering one of the first debt buyback programs in higher education. The program rewards academic success.

While at Wilson, Hoover was involved in developing the debt buyback program, which will be available to students entering the college in the fall of 2014.

“It’s also an incentive for students to put in a little extra effort. A lot of time during that first year of college, students have a hard time transitioning,” Hoover said. “I think that knowing you might be able to have some of your debt bought back if you work hard is very appealing to a lot of students.”

The college will pay up to $10,000 toward a student’s federal Stafford Loan debt if the student meets prescribed academic and service requirements, according to a statement from the college.

To qualify, students must be first-time college students and earn a degree in four years or less of continuous, full-time enrollment at Wilson.

“It provides an innovative form of support for Wilson students while serving as a powerful incentive for academic success, service to the community and participation in the life of the campus,” Wilson College President Barbara K. Mistick said. “We want to encourage students to take full advantage of the college experience while reducing the burden of student debt.”

Buyback amounts vary depending on a student’s final grade-point average. The amounts are $10,000 for those with a GPA of 3.9 or higher; $7,500 for those with a GPA between 3.7 and 3.89; and $5,000 for those with a GPA between 3.5 and 3.69.

The buyback program has other requirements, including a pledge that students borrow only what is needed for educational expenses, participation in financial literacy programs and participation in activities that benefit the Wilson community.

The debt buyback program was approved by the Wilson College Board of Trustees in January as part of a bold series of measures aimed at rejuvenating the college called “The Wilson Today Plan.”

Brian Speer, Wilson College’s vice president for marketing and communications, said the debt buyback program is part of a plan to increase enrollment and ensure a healthy, financial foundation for the college.

College leaders hope the plan will steer a path of financial solvency for Wilson, which is operating on a $20 million budget with a deficit of just less than $3 million and deferred maintenance costs of $10 million.

In addition to creating the debt buyback plan, Wilson’s trustees voted to reduce tuition by $5,000, or 17 percent, to $23,745 in the 2014-15 academic year. Last fall, the board agreed to freeze tuition for 2013-14 at $28,745 for the third year in a row, he said.

Wilson officials expect the plan to cost up to $100,000 per year, depending on variables. The college will fund the plan through additional revenue generated by increased enrollments and retention of students participating in the program.

Wilson College Details Unusual Loan-Buyback Program

May 23, 2013 by Lawrence Biemiller

Wilson College has released details of an unusual debt-buyback offer that is one of the keys to a plan its trustees adopted in January in an effort to attract more students and keep the tiny Pennsylvania liberal-arts institution in business. Under the offer, the college will pay back up to $10,000 of a student’s federal Stafford student-loan indebtedness if the student earns a degree at Wilson within four years, participates in new financial-literacy programs the college will offer, and takes part in “activities and community services that would benefit the Wilson College community.”

How much the college will pay will be determined by the student’s grade-point average: $5,000 for students with a GPA of 3.5 to 3.69; $7,500 for a GPA of 3.7 to 3.89; and the full $10,000 for a 3.9 and higher.

Wilson administrators are also reducing its tuition by $5,000, to $23,745 in the 2014-15 academic year, after concluding that its sticker price was too high for the value the institution could offer. The loan-buyback plan and lower tuition were results of a months-long self-study that also prompted a controversial decision to admit men to Wilson’s traditional undergraduate program for the first time.

College officials say that the loan-buyback offer is among the first of its kind in higher education, and that it will cost the institution up to $100,000 a year, which it expects to cover by attracting more students. “It’s a proverbial win-win—for both students and the college,” said Wilson’s president, Barbara K. Mistick, in a written statement. “We are very hopeful that students and parents will see the value in our debt-buyback plan and take advantage of it.”