August 22, 2013
New faces, new places and new programs greet first-year students and those returning to West Chester University. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 26.
The University received 14,616 freshman applications for the 2,304 spots in this year's freshmen class. In addition, many students chose to transfer to West Chester: The University received 3,620 transfer applications for an entering transfer class of 1,271.
Approximately 20 percent of the freshman class are out-of-state students, most of them from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and New York.
Christopher Fiorentino, dean of the WCU College of Business and Public Affairs for the past 20 years, has agreed to serve as the University’s first vice president for external operations. The position, created to accommodate enrollment demands that are nearing the campus’ physical capacity, will be responsible for the creation and management of all off-campus educational locations, such as the University’s new site in center city Philadelphia, as well as distance education programs and professional development.
Fiorentino has worked with numerous public, private and government entities to help meet the workforce needs of the region. He has been behind the creation and funding of other highly successful University centers, including the Center for Social and Economic Policy Research, the Business Technology Center, the Internet Presentations Group, the Center for Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis, and the Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center.
There are 65 new faculty in such varied fields as accounting, finance, foreign languages, literacy, math, music education, nursing, and sports medicine.
As West Chester is welcoming its students, the new Chancellor for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), Frank T. Brogan, is also preparing to oversee the 14 institutions that make up the system. Brogan, who had been Chancellor of the State University System of Florida, will begin his duties Oct. 1, 2013.
Linda Adams is the new dean of the University’s College of Health Sciences. A former provost and associate vice chancellor for University Outreach, Professional Development and Distance Education at North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro, she holds degrees in public health and nursing. Prior to her tenure at NC A & T, she had been dean and professor at Oakland University’s School of Nursing. She has also held leadership positions in higher education at the University of Maryland, Coppin State University, and Hampton University.
Gautam Pillay is WCU’s new associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs. Most recently, he was associate provost for research and a professor of chemical engineering at Rowan University. While Pillay has extensive experience in academia, his background as a chemical engineer also earned him positions with Los Alamos and other national laboratories.
This fall, the first residents are moving into the East Village Apartments on South Campus. Just completed, the five buildings comprise a total of 264 beds. Each unit is fully furnished and has four separate bedrooms, two full baths, a full kitchen and laundry, and a living and dining area. The Village Clubhouse has also been renovated, with the addition of a “product on demand” (POD) food service area by Aramark, an expanded fitness center, fire pit/conversation area, plus remodeled computer lab, office space and conference room.
Construction continues on Commonwealth Hall, located on the former site of Sanderson. When it opens in Fall 2014, the eight-story structure will be the largest-capacity residence hall on North Campus with 653 beds in suite-style units similar to Allegheny and Brandywine halls. The WCU Health and Wellness Center and USH Leasing Center will relocate to this building. There will also be a yoga room and cardio facility.
Both East Village Apartments and Commonwealth Hall are heated and cooled by the University’s geothermal system.
A new parking structure at South New and West Nields streets provides 452 spaces in three and half stories; the surface lot it replaces only offered 180 parking spaces.
McCarthy Hall closed at the end of the 2012-13 academic year and will be demolished this semester to make way for a 90,000-square-foot facility housing most of programs in the College of Business and Public Affairs. The five-story building will include classrooms, faculty offices, lecture halls, seminar and conference rooms and student lounges.
Just inside the Quad beyond the Philips archway, construction of a plaza to surround a larger-than-life-size sculpture of Frederick Douglass has begun. The statue, crafted by WCU artist Richard Blake, depicts Douglass as young man. It will stand just under 10 feet tall once set upon its base. Following installation of the statue and completion of the plaza, a formal opening of this memorial to the great 19th-century orator and former slave, who gave his last public speech near this spot, will take place Oct. 1.
Hollinger Field House, long in need of upgrades, is getting a facelift that includes a new playing surface with a lattice structure underneath into which small fans are placed to remove excess moisture. Unlike a hard or “dead” floor, this surface provides give, and its yielding nature is easier on athletes’ joints.
The new entrance will be at the west end of the building, facing Lawrence Center, and contain a lobby and ticket counter. In addition, new bleachers, paint and seating in WCU’s colors purple and gold enhance Golden Rams pride.
The installation of air conditioning in Hollinger is among other upgrades that are scheduled following the 2013-14 winter indoor playing season.
Across campus, the WCU Post Office has settled in at 887 South Matlack Street. That building also now houses the Demonstration Application Center, which focuses on interactivity, active learning, and accessibility through Natural User Interface Technology. Institutional Research also has offices there.
Although the guts of the University's geothermal heating and cooling system are underground, much of the work to install it is visible above ground.
This summer, parking spaces in Sykes parking lot (K Lot) that had been impacted while geothermal wells were drilled beneath them will soon be returned for parking. More wells will be drilled in another section of that lot later this coming winter.
Connections for Mitchell Hall (renovations to which will begin this academic year) and the new Business and Public Affairs Center to the geothermal system are being prepared and installed along North Campus Drive this fall.