First male residents at Wilson College look to break stereotypes

Wilson College welcomes first male undergrads, who hope to fit in
By Amber South, @AESouthPO on Twitter

CHAMBERSBURG >> Albert Bruce wants to break the stereotype associated with men’s treatment of women, and hopes his male classmates at Wilson College will do the same.

They make up the 24 men who are the first to live on campus at the private college in Chambersburg, according to a statement from the college. After first accepting male students for the undergraduate program last school year, this semester is the first time the formerly all-women’s college is allowing men to move into campus dorms alongside female students.

Bruce, a second-semester freshman from Doylestown who came to Wilson for the equine program, said it may be challenging at first for the male minority to achieve trust among the female majority but that he hopes behaviors demonstrate positivity. “So especially for this first year, it’s really going to be, for the guys that are here, how are we going to deal with the stereotype, how we are going to be perceived in the female population and how are we going interact with each other as students,” he added.

With 124 new female residents as of move-in day Wednesday, men make up about 16 percent of the new resident population, according to the statement. Female students moving in were not worried at all about the male presence.

“Boys are in high school, so why not college?” said Victoria Kauffman, a freshmen from Lancaster. She came to Wilson after being courted by the softball coach since her sophomore year of high school, and will study in the veterinary medical technology (VMT) program.

Joining her in the VMT program will be Brooklyn DePalmer and Stephanie Webb, friends from Biglerville who transferred to Wilson from HACC. They came to Wilson because it seemed the best choice in their hopes to become exotic-animal veterinarians. They “don’t care” about the coed atmosphere.

“I think maybe it’s a good thing to expand, offer men the same (opportunities) in the VMT program,” DePalmer said.

Wilson does not anticipate any issues arising from women and men living beside each other besides the same ones typically had when the residence program was women-only, according to Sherri Sadowski, director of residence life. She said any increase will only be the result of the increased number of students on campus; according to the Wilson statement, the number of new students is the largest since 1970, when there were 157.

“I think a lot of our female students are really kind of gung-ho this year about we are going to fold in the men into our kind of women’s-centered perspective and they’re excited about this prospect,” Sadowski said. “Men should understand that women-centered view, what that world view looks like. I think they’re seeing it as a challenge but it’s a good thing.”

All of the men will live on one floor in Davison Hall, Sadowski said. The original plan was to mix men and women residents throughout the dorms — but also have one floor each exclusively for males and females — but the number of bathrooms compared to the number of men and women who would need to use them on each floor did not allow that to happen, she added.

“We couldn’t go as intermixed coed as we had intended but that will solve itself as we continue to grow and continue to level out,” Sadowski said.

Christian Wagner already has a foot into the girl-world, since his girlfriend is a Wilson student too. But the main reasons he choose Wilson were its business management and computer science programs and because his grandparents and other relatives live in Chambersburg, which is about an hour away from his hometown of Frederick, Maryland. A freshman, he will play golf too.

“So it’s basically a perfect fit,” he said. “It was great that they were opening it up to (men). I don’t really mind being the first class (of men) to stay on campus.”

A number of the male residents transferred from other colleges to Wilson to form the new men’s basketball team. One of them is Zach Gasper, a sophomore who came from Keystone College, La Plume, and will study elementary education.

“Seeing how the guys do here with all the girls, that will be pretty interesting,” he said.

Amber South can be reached at 262-4771.

Wilson College Rolls out Online RN Classes

Updated:   08/13/2014 03:57:15 PM

CHAMBERSBURG >> Wilson College is rolling out new healthcare programs, beginning with two degree programs for registered nurses this fall — one that allows registered nurses to get a bachelor of science degree in nursing and one that leads registered nurses to a master of science degree in nursing. Both programs are offered only online.

The RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN programs, which were approved by the college’s Board of Trustees in May, have already exceeded enrollment goals for the fall semester, primarily through word of mouth, according to Carolyn Hart, program director for Wilson’s Department of Nursing.

With a projected total enrollment of 15 students in both programs, 34 students have enrolled to date and another seven have already applied for next year, said Hart, an RN and Certified Nurse Educator.

The strong early response to Wilson’s new nursing programs can be attributed in large measure to trends in the nursing industry, which is experiencing shortages of qualified nurses. Key trends include growing demand for RNs to continue education and earn academic degrees.

“Current research and recommendations from the Institute of Medicine support (the idea that) higher levels of education lead to better patient outcomes,” said Summit Health Vice President of Hospital Services Sherri Stahl.

In cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore, most hospitals already require RNs to have bachelor’s degrees in nursing, according to Hart. “If you’re a nurse without a bachelor’s degree, your chances of working in a large city hospital are slim,” she said, adding that the trend is spreading to other communities.

Wilson’s RN-to-BSN program is designed so that students can earn their bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months. Upon entering the program, students can be awarded up to 82 credits for a valid nursing license and prior coursework. A total of 120 credits are needed to complete the degree.

The program will include liberal arts courses selected specifically on the basis of relevance to nurses.

In fall 2015, Wilson will add two more health-related programs — a general master’s degree in nursing and a health sciences degree, which will offer concentrations in management, exercise and sport science, and pre-physical therapy. The health sciences degree will prepare students for careers in such areas as health benefits management, pharmaceutical sales, client/patient advocacy, independent living administration and social services case management, as well as preparing them for graduate programs in public health, social work and healthcare administration.

For more information about Wilson’s RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN programs, contact Hart at 262-4853, 575-4964 or

Wilson College adapts athletic facilities for male students

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014
by Jennifer Fitch
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Wilson College is exploring its options to adapt the campus’ field house to accommodate male athletes.

Historically a women’s school, Wilson College is preparing to open its undergraduate degree programs and dormitories to men this fall. A group of alumnae has asked the state education department to block that move.

The college is processing applications from male students.

Changes are coming to the Frank E. Gannett Memorial Field House to create men’s locker rooms, school spokeswoman Cathy Mentzer said.

The college is unsure whether the field house will be expanded for the locker rooms or if they can be added through renovations of existing space, Mentzer said.

One definite aspect of construction will be the incorporation of disabled-accessible bathrooms, she said.

The Frank E. Gannett Memorial Field House has a gymnasium, training room and staff offices.

On Monday, the Chambersburg Borough Council approved a final subdivision and land development plan for an addition to the field house along South Penn Hall Drive. The addition is listed on plans as being 1,500 square feet.

“We need to evaluate the cost to renovate versus new construction in light of what services (and) facilities will need to be given up as part of the renovations. Another consideration is the time to complete the renovations versus the new construction,” Brian Ecker, Wilson’s vice president for finance and administration, wrote in an email.

The college expects to spend $450,000 to $500,000 and complete the work late this fall, Ecker said.

Jennifer Fitch is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via email at

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.