The plan is to renovate campus buildings for the students, now with the help of the students. When funds and contributions are not enough for the projects, a student fee may be added to tuition to bridge “the gap” of the cost. The goal is to update the campus by renovating buildings, which is “essential” to accommodate the growth in student population and for better quality of West Chester students, according to Mark Mixer, the Vice President for Administration and Finance.
Along with this project to make the classroom buildings and other academic buildings better adapted for the enrollment growth, another reason for this project is to meet accreditation standards. Mixer said that WCU is 259,000 square feet short of academic space.
The project has been “put off (due to) a lack of money,” said Mixer, from when it was supported by several funding projects, including sporadic state funding, reserves, private contributors, and federal grants.
Another aspect of the project is to have geothermal energy available in buildings. This has begun with the two new Resident Halls, Allegheny and Brandywine: both will have geothermal energy for heating purposes. This process is being done on Rosedale, where the basketball and tennis courts were, across from Schmidt Hall.
For these dorms to “go green” with geothermal energy, wells were drilled going four to five thousand feet underground. Pipes are placed at the bottom of what is drilled. The pipes are filled with running water; the geothermal energy will pick up heat in the winter time, and during the summer the heat will move out of the building.
Mixer said the dorms will have geothermal energy available when they open in the fall.
The total cost of having geothermal energy available is estimated at $38 million. To pay for this, WCU has $5.2 million in funds, the state will pay for $10.2 million, and non-state will pay for one million dollars. This means “the gap” of how much payment is not covered, is roughly $21.6 million.
A separate project for the new resident halls being built is to have academic and tech space. This will cost about $9.5 million.
Another project in the works of being constructed is expanding the E.O. Bull Center to put all the performing arts together. This costs $17 million.
Mixer said since the funds are not enough to pay for the entire project, the school could “give up and it would fail the students… (or) act now and secure the future (of the students).”
In order to have the money to fill the gap for the projects, an option is to add a student fee. This means tuition will go up depending on how much the fee will be. The potential fee is $150. This is subject to change, and the fee still needs to be approved.
The recreational fee has been increased; this has already been approved to now be $133 per semester. The student recreation fields for South campus have an estimated budget of one million dollars. With these fees, the tuition for WCU will reach just over $7,000. Currently WCU has one of the lowest tuitions for schools in PASHE averaging at $6,740 for in-state students (a semester). This was compared to private colleges that have an average of $30,000.
The request for the fee starting next semester will be discussed among the Council of Trustees. Mixer said that they want to maintain the campus, and want students support on the additional fee that “wouldn’t raise (tuition) cost too high.”
If the student fee is approved, it will go into effect, for incoming freshman and second-year students for the 2009 fall semester. By spring 2012 all students will pay the fee. Mixer said that Dean Weinstein wants this fee on the “fast-track” because it was delayed before now.
During the presentation one student said that in one of her classes, her and other students discussed the possibility of a new student fee. She said that the students were mostly for the fee only if the money does go to renovating the buildings. If plans change, Mixer said the students will be aware of any such changes.
“I’m in full support because changes need to be done to the buildings,” Nathan Good said, a third-year student majoring in sociology and psychology. “If (the fee) is approved, SGA should guide it and if it’s off-track, they can do something.” He also mentioned that he wants to see management of where the money is going to before the fee is approved.
SGA has already heard of the upcoming project and will be holding an open discussion at their meeting on Tuesday and also on March 26, at 7 p.m. the council of trustees will have a meeting. The location is to be determined, see their Web site for an update.
Linda Lamwers, now the Vice President for Academic Affairs, agreed with Mixer that renovations are for “creditidation.” Lamwers said that faculty members are sharing offices and that there are not enough classrooms.
Domino effect, according to Mixer, is to free up campus buildings for new programs. The Old Swope building was renovated and is now used for other programs.
An additional project includes the undergraduate business center; the location may change, and is estimated at a total of $17 million.
Also present at the discussion was Matthew Bricketto, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Linda Boucher, the University Budget Director.
Mixer said that the University is looking for the student’s support to add the $150 fee to their tuition. Of the students who have learned of the fee said they are mostly for it as long as that money is going towards renovations.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a second-year student majoring in English and minoring in Journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu