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 eric.michael@wilson.edu.