LVB: Kutztown is looking to study the workforce needs of Berks County for programming to begin in the fall. Tell me about what you’re working on.
Lentz: The Office of Extended and Lifelong Learning at Kutztown University is developing training for employers in Berks and Lehigh counties who are interested in providing opportunities to their employees for upskilling and career advancement. Adults who are curious about college but not sure if they are ready to commit to a degree program can admit into certificate programs, which are about 3 to 4 classes. We are also facilitating Senior Scholars, which is a program for the 50+ age group and will offer non-credit, short topics such as wine-tasting events, photography, etc. beginning in summer.
LVB: Are there particular industries you’re concentrating on?
Lentz: We are working with KU’s SBDC to offer training on WEDnet, which is government funded. We are focused on developing training that can assist employees and employers in local industry.
LVB: What are the biggest workforce needs that you see in Berks County?
Lentz: We are currently canvassing local industry to determine needs. Soft skills such as communication, leadership, critical thinking, and the ability to work in a team are in demand. Training in computer programming, problem solving and analytical skills, and software is also in demand.
LVB: How do you think that Kutztown can help?
Lentz: KU can help in several ways. Employees can increase their marketability for in-demand careers with a certificate. KU also offers many certification options in Education. KU can help with accelerated degree pathways by offering summer and winter online courses, awarding credit for prior learning, or pursuing a completion program. KU also offers online and hybrid degrees.
LVB: How can employers get involved with Kutztown’s workforce training efforts?
Two Kutztown University students won the $10,000 first place prize in the annual State System Startup Challenge, sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
Shantal Ewell, an MBA student, and Kevin Smyth, a Master’s in Student Affairs student, created a business plan for the Schedula Degree Planner, an online platform that would redefine the way college students and advisors interact.
The Schedula Degree Planner creates a personalized degree plan so students can avoid unnecessary courses to graduate in four years or less while improving the efficiency of advisors and the graduation rates of universities.
“Our State System universities are connecting with the business community more than ever before and these students are a great example of the innovation happening on campuses,” said State System Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira.
“State System graduates help to fuel Pennsylvania’s economy and competitions like this enable the next generation of business leaders to get their start,” she said. “I congratulate the team from Kutztown University for their victory and thank every student from across the System who competed this year.”
Three student teams participated in the finals of the State System Startup Challenge, which provides students the opportunity to pitch their plans to a panel of business leaders for a chance to win funds to support the start-up or growth of their business, PASSHE said. The three finalists were selected from 60 competitors across the system.
“This business plan competition gives State System students the opportunity to pursue their dreams here in Pennsylvania,” said State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein. “These students remind us about the value of public higher education to strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy as they translate a classroom education to real-world experience. Thank you to the students, faculty and universities for making this possible.”
Judges were Laura B. Haffner, region bank president, senior vice president, Greater Pennsylvania Region for Wells Fargo; Matt Lutcavage, vice president of Team Experience and chief human resources officer for The Giant Company; Mary Oliveira, chief membership officer for Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and Nandish Patel, an entrepreneur.
Kutztown University has joined a program that will prepare business students for the Chartered Financial Analyst exam, positioning them for employment in investment fields.
The university has become one of 260 campuses in the United States to be accepted into the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Affiliation Program.
As an affiliated university, KU portrays to students and employers that its curriculum is closely tied to the practice of investment management and is helpful to students preparing for the CFA program exams, a university statement said.
CFA Institute is the international association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community, according to the university statement. There are more than 160,000 CFA charter holders worldwide in 164 different markets.
John Walker, professor of business administration and a CFA charter holder himself, led KU’s effort to bring this program to campus.
“Part of the College of Business’ mission is to train students for jobs in the investments field,” Walker said. “Thanks to our rigorous finance curriculum and the experimental learning opportunities we offer, companies such as Goldman Sachs, Barclays and J.P. Morgan have hired our students. I believe this affiliation with CFA Institute further enhances our reputation and will make our students even more marketable to Wall Street firms.”
As an affiliated university, KU students will have access to a Bachelor of Science in business administration’s finance program that has been acknowledged for incorporating at least 70% of the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK), the university said. This program places emphasis on the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct and positions students to obtain the CFA charter, which has become the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world. Through participation in this program, KU is eligible to receive a limited number of CFA Program student scholarships annually.
The Kutztown University College of Business emphasizes teaching and learning enriched by applied and pedagogical scholarship and community engagement, according to the university statement. This program serves students from diverse backgrounds, the business community and other stakeholders of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. The undergraduate and graduate degree programs provide quality, affordable business education. Faculty lead and engage students to prepare them for intellectual, social, ethical and career challenges.
Another professionally endorsed program offered at KU is the Personal Financial Planning (PFP) program, registered by the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board. In addition to the PFP, the CFA Institute Affiliation Program will provide greater opportunities to help students thrive and become successful graduates preferred by employers in an ever-changing business environment, the university said.
The Rodale Institute announced Monday that it has signed a five-year academic research agreement with Kutztown University.
The institute, located less than six miles from the Kutztown campus, will provide students and faculty the opportunity to partner with its personnel and researchers around the world on field research in the areas of soil health and regenerative organic farming practices. Students can learn about pest management, composting, pollination and internship opportunities will be made available to students.
“I’m honored to sign this agreement today with one of the premier research organizations in the world,” said Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, Kutztown University president. “This is a great opportunity to market Kutztown University’s new track in regenerative organic agriculture, among our many programmatic areas. One of the greatest benefits from this collaboration are the mutual networking opportunities we will have to educate our audiences about the mission of our organizations.”
Kutztown University offers classes in biology, chemistry, environmental science and a track in regenerative organic agriculture.
Through the agreement, students and faculty in those areas will have access to Rodale’s research facility, including field laboratories, in-house laboratories, crop, livestock areas and research facilities.
“Rodale Institute and Kutztown University are neighbors and logical partners in this endeavor to launch the first regenerative organic educational tract in the world,” said Jeff Tkach, chief impact officer for Rodale Institute. “We are backed by a state government and Department of Agriculture that is investing in the future of regenerative organic farming. Together, we will continue to position Pennsylvania as the leader in organic agriculture and a center of innovation and education for the next generation of farmers and food entrepreneurs.”
DLP Real Estate Capital has acquired The Edge at Kutztown, a student housing community that was constructed in 2008 and is located near the Kutztown University Campus.
The community, which will be renamed DLP Kutztown, is a 184-unit property aimed at students of the university. The property is made up of three-bedroom units with amenities that include full appliance and furniture packages, in-unit washer/dryers, clubhouse and a patio with grilling area.
The company said it plans to transform the property into a mix of student and multi-family dwellings.
“The acquisition of DLP Kutztown adds to our growing portfolio and confirms our belief in the Greater Lehigh Valley where I was born and raised,” said Don Wenner, founder and CEO of DLP Real Estate Capital. “By transforming the community to a mix of both student and multifamily units, more hardworking individuals and families will be able to live here at a more affordable price.”
Wenner said the firm has a goal of positively impacting the current housing affordability crisis affecting families across the nation and the acquisition is part of that effort.
LVB: Nearly 1 year into the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges are looking much different than they did before. In what ways has Kutztown adapted?
Hawkison: We remained open with a residential experience for our students and had a wide modality of classes including face-to-face, hybrid and online. All students, faculty and staff had to adapt to wearing masks, social distancing and working behind plexiglass. I’m very proud of the way our community adapted to this new reality.
LVB: What format are your professors using for their classes, in-person, remote, a hybrid of the two?
Hawkinson: 87% of our course offerings have a synchronous component, wherein the classes will be held live in person or with technology (or both) in real time.
LVB: What are some of the ways the school has been impacted that most people wouldn’t realize?
Hawkinson: While a number of our employees have underlying conditions and are teleworking, all our offices have been open and staffed so that our students and the public could interact in person.
LVB: Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. Has Kutztown made any changes that have been advantageous, that might become permanent?
Hawkinson: All our faculty, staff and students have become very proficient in using technology in their work and in their educational experiences, which allows us to complete our mission remotely, if necessary. For example, there is no longer a need to suspend operation for bad weather as nearly everyone can work, teach and learn from home.
In the fall, we hope to return to traditional in-person experiences for our students but these classes will be greatly enhanced as a result of the skills developed by faculty and students in the use of technology.
LVB: What does the rest of the year look like at the school?
Hawkinson: We will remain open but with the restrictions of social distancing and other practices that mitigate the risk of COVID-19. As more faculty, staff and students get vaccinated we hope to relax these restrictions so that there could be many more activities on campus wherein the members of our community could have more interaction.
Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship and Kutztown University’s Small Business Development Center have teamed up to advance entrepreneurship and the redevelopment of downtown Reading.
The universities will work together to encourage students, faculty, staff and community members to develop and operate progressive, future-based businesses. Entrepreneurs will be educated on the nature of free enterprise and will benefit through curriculum and experience-based activities that will enhance the regional economic climate.
“Collaboration is the cornerstone for the Reading CollegeTowne model, and working together, colleges and universities are stronger, particularly in securing funding to support academic programming and community engagement,” said Alvernia President John R. Loyack. “This partnership with Kutztown and the Small Business
Development Center is a wonderful example of the positive economic impact Berks County higher education institutions can have on the revitalization of downtown Reading.”
Alvernia announced Reading CollegeTowne, a strategic model for economic development in downtown Reading in December. It assumed ownership on June 30 of a building at 401 Penn Street, which it plans to renovate to include classrooms and labs, loft-style student housing, eating facilities, retail outlets and other operations.
The building, formerly home to I-Lead Charter School, will serve as the centerpiece of the CollegeTowne initiative, and will house a student-centered business incubator to be run by the O’Pake Institute in partnership with other organizations, including Kutztown’s SBDC, SCORE Berks Schuylkill Chapter and Lehigh Valley Angel Investors.
Those and other partnerships will form a framework of economic groups that will work together to promote entrepreneurship and business growth, explained Dr. Rodney Ridley, associate provost and vice president and chief executive officer for the O’Pake Institute.
“The ever-growing O’Pake partnership network and collaboration between Berks County’s higher education institutions will make Reading and southeastern Pennsylvania an attractive location for entrepreneurs,” Ridley said.
Sonya Smith, associate state direct of program and policy at the Pennsylvania SBDC who is working with Kutztown University’s SBDC, applauded the partnership.
“The joint partnership of universities and community organizations create pathways for students to valuable experiential learning by supporting startups and established businesses in our community,” Smith said. “There are a variety of motivators for encouraging student community involvement, including promoting civic engagement, student learning/real-world experience and a service tool for community organizations. With this new agreement, we at the Kutztown University SBDC are focused on seeing this model through fruition, for the betterment of the students, our small business community, the downtown Reading area and both Alvernia and Kutztown University’s commitment to this initiative.”
As reliable as Pennsylvania Dutch Country soft pretzels, economic growth in Berks County continues to increase at a stable pace.
Trucking, logistics, distribution, manufacturing, health care and agribusiness are long-standing contributors to Berks County’s strong economic landscape – even during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.
Logistics and distribution access points from Interstates 78, 422 (east/west) 222 and 61 (north/south and central) along with the Pennsylvania Turnpike provide nationwide brands like Pet Smart to serve consumers from Berks County hubs.
“These corridors have become a large component for us,” for growth and job balance, said Pamela Shupp Menet, vice president of external affairs for Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. She said facility sizes had increased along those distribution routes, providing services throughout the northeast corridor and beyond. Despite the governor’s shutdown order in March, the employment base was strong heading into 2020.
Because many Berks businesses were deemed essential under the order, unemployment has been lower than in other area communities. According to a recent press release by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, February’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in Berks, significantly lower than the state average of 6 percent in March.
The county’s labor force grew 9 percent between 2000 and 2018, according to the Berks County Community Foundation. During roughly the same period overall jobs number grew 11 percent. While the report concluded manufacturing jobs were down during that time, health care and social services employment jumped by 62 percent.
Meanwhile, partnerships with Kutztown University’s Small Business Development Center, Ben Franklin Tech Ventures at Lehigh University and the Jump Start Incubator within Berks County Community Foundation are providing launch pad services for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
West Reading on the rise.
New mental health facilities anticipated as part of the Tower Health/Drexel University project in West Reading could provide office space and resources for associated businesses, health care entrepreneurs and start-ups.
“With Tower teaming up with Drexel, that will spark some of the incubator things in and around where they are building the school,” Shupp Menet said.
The Tower Health/Drexel campus building broke ground last June on the site of the former Knitting Mills. The roughly $70 million redevelopment goal of the former Berkshire Knitting Mills is to attract professional talent and newcomers to live and work in and around West Reading, she said.
Agriculture continues to be a solid Berks economic driver.
“Over the years agribusinesses have become a much bigger portion of our loan requests – certainly in the past three years,” Shupp Menet said.
Prior to Covid-19 restrictions the agriculture sector accounted for roughly 43 percent of loan inquiries. GRCA administers the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority loan program in Berks County.
“Since 2017 there have been 21 agribusiness financing projects in Berks County totaling $22.5 million and supported by $8.1 million in PIDA loan funds,” Shupp Menet said. During the past two years, those loans have been going to expand existing farms.
Agribusiness includes crops, poultry farms and related businesses that support growing and farming operations. Many farming operations continued to be family-owned and operated.
Successful transitions to the next generation are also adopting newer technologies, she said.
Manufacturing jobs remain in demand during the pandemic as some businesses convert production lines to make personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and gowns, and hand sanitizer. Business expansions, new facility construction projects, along with businesses relocations were all up before Covid-19.
There is concern and uncertainty over government ordered shutdowns once construction projects resume. “Those businesses [moving to new buildings] would need to also be deemed essential in order to open, too,” she said.
Residential housing starts decline.
Residential housing starts, a sector which was down prior to Covid-19, continued to be slow.
“Housing has just not picked up in Berks County,” said Michelle Franklin, a subdivision and land development senior planner at Berks County Planning Commission.
From Albany to Wyomissing Heights there were 92 new single-family housing starts reported in the fourth quarter of 2019. Since the end of February few new housing applications have received.
Franklin attributes poor housing starts to an old county-wide tax reassessment from 1994 that placed a higher tax burden on new home buyers, rather than fears over Covid-19. “Housing starts have been down since the 2008 recession, and we never really came back from it,” she said.
Buy local trend could be next
Shupp Menet made a post-Covid prediction: “…a lot of communities will see a very large push to buy local, and not just restaurants and professional services.”
Creating and supporting a regional supply chain in the post-Covid recovery could become a factor in continued growth.
“As we begin our conversations around what recovery looks like for us, I think that will be a big push,” she said.
Jason Brudereck, director of communications for Berks County Community Foundation, is optimistic there will be opportunities after the pandemic is past. “Some will close, but others will step in…small businesses are the job creators in any community,” he said.
After one local college announced it would close its campus because of COVID-19, others quickly followed suit.
It was the beginning of the local higher education response to the rising concerns over the virus that sent students across the state out of their dorms and classrooms and into online instruction for the remainder of the spring semester.
The move led many students and families to wonder if they would get some type of refund for losing access to housing, dining services and other amenities they already paid for.
So far, it’s a mixed bag, with most offering partial refunds of some amenities, but not tuition.
Kutztown University is offering partial refunds based on guidance it received from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, according to the university’s office of student accounts. The university calculated a 50% refund of selected fees for the current semester that it would send to students the week of April 6.
The university is refunding those fees that are no longer available to students because its face-to-face operations have closed, and for the majority of students, residence halls have closed.
However, the university is not refunding tuition, as full tuition costs will remain in place, based on a 50% face-to-face and 50% online ratio. The change in instruction does not meet the distance education requirement of 80% online or more, the university’s office said.
“The financial impact of refunds will be significant for the university,” said Matt Santos, vice president of University Relations at Kutztown University, in a statement. “We plan to issue refunds for 50% of the spring semester fees for housing, dining, and select auxiliary services. This equates to about $9.5 million in lost revenue.”
That means the university will have to dip into its cash reserves.
Because of the timing of the COVID-19 virus and resulting campus shutdown of these operations, the university won’t be able to reduce its expenses at the same rate of the revenue losses, Santos said. The university will need to use cash reserves, previously designated for deferred maintenance and building renovations, in order to fill the anticipated gap.
As the university asked students to move out, they’ve vacated most of the residence halls, he added. After letting the halls sit vacant for a few days, the university will deep clean them in preparation for their next use.
“We host a significant number of overnight campus and conferences during the summer, and at this time, there is no change to the summer schedule,” Santos said.
Lafayette College in Easton is working on a process to prorate room and board fees where appropriate and hopes to have the details worked out in early April, said Scott Morse, senior director of communications at Lafayette College, in a statement.
Alvernia University in Reading will seek state and/or federal reimbursement for students if funds become available, said Glynis Fitzgerald, senior vice president and provost, and John McCloskey, senior vice president and chief of staff.
In a statement, they said they would continuously monitor the situation.
According to its website, Lehigh University in Bethlehem is offering partial refunds for housing, dining and parking services on a prorated basis for undergraduate students who are not parking on campus, living in residence halls or using meal plans. Undergraduate students will have the ability to request a refund or apply the credit to future bills. Refunds do not apply to off-campus rentals or facilities that the university does not own or operate, such as SouthSide Commons.
The university began online instruction on March 16 and began prorating the refunds from that time, said Patricia Johnson, vice president of finance and administration at Lehigh University.
The university will have some cost savings on cleaning costs and general maintenance costs since many buildings on campus are empty, she said.
“They are not big savings,” Johnson said.
Utilities have to be kept on in the buildings, but other elements, such as air conditioning, can be turned off.
She said it is too early to determine what the possible financial impact to the university would be.
The university is not refunding tuition because it is offering online instruction.
“We placed some resources and provided training to faculty to use Zoom because many of them had never used it before,” Johnson said.
Overall, she said the university staff and faculty appear to be adjusting very well, noting the university converted to online instruction within a week.
“Some of our professors seem engaged, thinking about different ways of teaching,” Johnson said.
The university could delay graduation, currently set for May 18. Potentially, the university may push that date to August, she said.
Meanwhile, in a message to students at East Stroudsburg University, Kenneth Long, vice president of administration and finance said the university would issue pro-rated reductions of housing, dining, general, and parking and transportation charges on students’ accounts during the week of March 29.
The university is prorating the refunds based on the number of days it would not provide these services, as of the last day of ESU’s original spring break, March 13, estimated at 50%.
As buildings age and tastes change, college campuses are meeting the demands of their students by expanding their facilities or, in some cases, building new ones. Colleges are also trying to boost enrollment by adding residence halls so more students can live on campus.
Today’s on-campus students want more social gathering spaces and amenities close to where they live. They want more choices in the style of their temporary home away from home.
For that reason, many colleges and universities are embarking on construction projects geared to attract students to experience campus living.
Following on that trend is the idea that how students learn is changing as well.
Students want to learn in lively, interactive classrooms with flexible workspaces and advanced technology, that are functional and inspiring. Many educational buildings are reflecting the trend by creating open, energy-efficient work areas; and comfortable lounges and gathering spaces. Some colleges hope the changes will increase their population of both graduate and undergraduate students, which, naturally, creates the need for more facilities.
At Lehigh University in Bethlehem, construction is at the midway point for The New Residential Houses project, the former Bridge West Residence Hall, which upon completion will have 720 beds. That project will have 405 beds in the first phase and 315 in the second, said Brent Stringfellow, associate vice president of facilities at Lehigh University and project architect. The building will house more than 400 undergraduate students and include a café, fitness area, kitchenettes, lounge areas and conference rooms, he said.
The first phase should be complete by the summer, with the timeline on the second phase yet to be determined.
The project, expected to cost about $75 million, is going up on the Packer campus at Sayre and University drives.
It’s part of the university’s Path to Prominence plan, a multi-year infrastructure and building plan designed to create more student living spaces on campus, expand the university’s footprint, and increase its academic and research opportunities.
Over the next 10 years, the university plans to increase its undergraduate population by 1,000 students or roughly, 20 percent, while increasing its graduate student population by 500. Right now, Lehigh currently has about 5,200 undergraduates enrolled and 1,700 graduates.
Lehigh University also finished South Side Commons last year, which are apartment-style units completed as a private-public partnership, known as a P3.
“It’s not part of our standard housing system, but that has some ties into Lehigh’s housing system,” Stringfellow said.
That $48 million project includes 428 beds in a building constructed on a vacant university-owned parking lot at the corner of Brodhead and West Packer avenues.
All of these projects fall under Lehigh’s Path to Prominence plan, which includes a goal of growing its student population and having the facility and staff to support it.
It’s not just residence halls that are growing and changing on college campuses.
The university is also expanding the Rauch Business Center beyond its footprint. The project, which is in the design phase, could start construction later this year but there’s no firm date set yet, Stringfellow said.
Renovations at Kutztown
Though Kutztown University has no new major construction plans, over the past nine years, Kutztown University renovated six of its older traditional residence halls, said Matt Delaney, university CFO. Recently, it stalled a multi-purpose field at a cost of about $5 million and it has plans to renovate the College of Business.
The university is at a different point in its construction mode as it completed many projects over the last decade, including new buildings and renovations and upgrades to the dining hall, said Matt Santos, vice president of university relations and athletics. It has also seen a drop in enrollment, down more than 20 percent since fall 2010, resulting in the pending closure of one residence hall this year.
At the start of the fall 2019 semester, the university had 1,899 students.
“We have plans for fall 2020, one residence hall will be closed,” Delaney said. “That’s one of the older traditional halls that we have not renovated. About 10 years ago, we made the choice to invest in those halls because of the style. We felt it was more advantageous and beneficial to their success to keep the traditional style residence halls.”
Delaney said these halls offer more socialization opportunities where students are less closed off to other residents.
“We also wanted to make a decision that benefited our students financially,” said Kent Dahlquist, director of housing, residence life and dining services at Kutztown University. “We wanted to be more cost conscious.”
The cost for the traditional/non-renovated residence hall at Kutztown is $2,948 per semester and $3,242 per semester for a renovated residence hall. The university built the traditional residence halls mostly in the 1960s and apartment buildings in the early 2000s. The average age of most of its residential buildings is about 40 years.
“A lot of the challenges that colleges are facing are deferred maintenance,” said Delaney. “We are making sure that all of that is up to date.”
The university took the opportunity to provide amenities that benefit students, added Dahlquist.
“We are trying to not only bring them up to 2020 standards when doing these renovations, but also to put opportunities in the hall that would support these students in their academic endeavor,” he said.
At Lafayette College in Easton, there’s a significant construction happening across from its main campus where a mixed-use project is set to open this fall. The project includes multiple floors of residence halls on a block of McCartney Street.
The $20 million project will include residences for 165 students, primarily sophomores and juniors, with one-, two- and three-to-four-bed suites with in-unit private or semi-private bathrooms.
The first floor will include commercial space such as a college bookstore, café and restaurant, in addition to an amphitheater and outdoor plazas. The college plans to put a diner and bookstore on the first floor on the McCartney and March streets side of the project, which spans a large block of McCartney Street.
This project is the first part of a multi-phase plan at Lafayette for projects along McCartney Street. It’s also part of a plan to expand its footprint in the community and attract more students to the campus.
“Students are becoming much more cost conscious,” said Annette Diorio, vice president for campus life at Lafayette. “They are interested in having rooms that are cost effective.”
Students like being close to the center of things. With the proximity of the McCartney Street project across from campus, students are still close to the heart of campus but also living in the community.
“Students really want to be close to that and bridge the private residences that people live in,” Diorio said. “What they want is a little more independence from the college.”
Students often shift their living preferences during their time at college and that’s impacting they buildings are constructed. First year students tend to want more meeting spaces so they can get to know people, later on they prefer living with people who share similar schedules, he said.
Not including the McCartney project, which is a P3 building, Lafayette has nearly 2,400 beds that it owns, operates or manages, with enrollment at about 2,500 students. Through its expansion projects, the college plans to boost enrollment by about 400 students in six years.
Only about 140 students live off campus, giving Lafayette a largely residential population.
A P3 works primarily for revenue producing projects, said Roger Demareski, vice president for finance and administration at Lafayette.
With the P3 arrangement for the McCartney project, Lafayette owns the land and leases it to the developer who designs, builds and operates the property. The residents pay the developer. The property also remains on the tax roll, Demareski said.
The P3 arrangements is strategic with a lease period that typically runs between 50 to 90 years, he said. McCartney will have a 70-year lease. The long period allows investors and developers to realize their return.
“We have no guarantee to fill it, it’s not a liability we carry on our financial statements,” Demareski said. “They are very good tools to advance an organization.”
Some larger state schools use P3s to fund centers, parking garages and other buildings, though residence halls are the most popular, he added.
The commercial spaces at the McCartney project will also benefit the college by expanding its ability to serve food, Diorio said.
In addition, the new bookstore will bring the college more visibility to the community. And while these spaces will be beneath the student living spaces, the stores will be open to the public.
The McCartney project will prepare students for the multigenerational world they will live in after college, Diorio said.
Aside from residence halls, Lafayette completed its $75 million Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center and opened it to students in September. The 103,000-square-foot-building integrates critical skills in science, technology, engineering and math while bringing together disciplines in biology, computer science, environmental science and neuroscience.
“The driving force behind Rockwell was to find a new space for biology,” Demareski said.
Most of the school’s educational buildings were built after World War II and have reached the end of their functional life, Demareski said.
“In that case, that building did not serve biology well.”
The college will begin construction on the new home for economics, the Simon Center for Economics and Business, at the site of the former home of the biology building.
Construction on the center will begin at the end of May, with a finish set for fall 2021, Demareski said.
The opening of the Rockwell building will allow for the renovation of Kunkle Hall to support academic needs, which will include approximately 40 new offices, six new classrooms and a renovated amphitheater, according to Lafayette’s May 2019 strategic direction annual report.
The Rockwell building includes the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education and the Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In addition, it offers a new cafe, a greenhouse, new engineering labs and increased study space for individuals and group work.
In the higher education industry, much of the buildings constructed in the 1950s and 1960s are outdated.
“At some point, they are either in need of significant overhaul or replacement,” he said. “These buildings are coming due.”
A grand opening is planned for Wednesday at the new Hampton Inn and Suites Kutztown.
Owned by the Kutztown University Foundation and its investment subsidiary, Ursus Aureus Inc., the new 100-room hotel was built on the site of the former Campus Inn at 15180 Kutztown Road.
The Campus Inn, which had about 25 rooms, was demolished to make way for the new hotel.
The new Hampton Inn is a four-story hotel in Maxatawny Township less than one mile from the university campus.
Scott Dorn, the chairperson and president of Ursus Aureus Inc. said the foundation saw the need for a larger hotel in the region and saw the project as a good investment.
“The university foundation has a number of very traditional investments that tend to be tied to market conditions,” Dorn said. “We’ve been looking for a different way to divest our investments. We studied a number of alternatives and saw this as a good investment that would benefit the greater community.”
Dorn estimates the hotel cost about $15 million to build.
He said there was a gap in hotel availability in the Kutztown area to serve families visiting students, tourists visiting the area for events like the annual Kutztown Folk Festival and professionals doing business in the Kutztown area.
“The need existed, and we felt this was the right hotel for the market,” he said.
The hotel is a new prototype of the Hilton-owned Hampton Inn brand that offers a more contemporary, modern look than previous Hampton Inn brands. It has an indoor pool, fitness room and two small conference rooms.
The hotel, which has been open to guests for about a month, is being managed by TKO Hospitality Management of Bethlehem, which is run by Kostas Kalogeropoulos, a well-known local hotel manager.
The general manager of the hotel is Ken Conklin.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.