August 18, 2014
As in past years, West Chester University received a large number of freshman applications – 14,969 – for the 2,280 spots in this year's freshman class. Many students also chose to transfer to West Chester: The University received 3,606 transfer applications for an entering transfer class of 1,300. Out-of-state students, most of them from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and New York, represent approximately 15.5 percent of the freshman class.
Another 19 incoming undergraduates and 25 graduate students hail from Guatemala, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and other countries. There are 48 new faculty members bringing their expertise to academic departments that include communicative disorders, criminal justice, foreign languages, psychology, social work, and sports medicine.
Physical improvements over the summer started right in the middle of campus: the Quad.
Dee Giardina, executive director of design and construction for the university, explained that the concept is to create "a great lawn" area that will – once the grass is well-established – be a central gathering spot. New walking paths are being installed around the ellipse and trees and plantings will be placed at various locations across the Quad.
"The lawn areas of the Quad will be visually completed by the first day of classes," she said. However, it will not be open for use until mid-September to give the sod time to root. "And to ensure that they will properly root, we are deferring the planting activity [of trees and shrubs] until mid-September."
The public artworks that once graced the Quad are now installed around E.O. Bull Center and are visible to pedestrians and drivers along Rosedale Avenue and High Street.
Commonwealth Hall will accept its first student residents this fall. It offers 649 new beds in suite-style living accommodations in its eight stories. The building is managed by WCU's affiliate, University Student Housing (USH), offices for which are now located in 130 Commonwealth Hall.
Commonwealth Hall also houses Student Health Services, including the Wellness Center, the Counseling Center, the Office for Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Programs, and Nutrition Services.
McCarthy Hall at the corner of Sharpless and Church streets is being prepared for demolition this fall to make way for the business and public affairs center, architect's plans for which are on the College of Business and Public Affairs website. Summer work included site preparation for connection to the North Campus geothermal heating and cooling system. On the south side of campus, the property at 30 West Rosedale (across South Church Street from the Admissions building), will make way for an administrative building. Both new facilities are expected to be completed in 2016.
Renovations to Mitchell Hall continue as that building is refitted as the center for the Department of Foreign Languages and Culture and the Center for International Programs. Lecture and classroom spaces will occupy the northern side of the facility while faculty offices will be located on the south side. The building is scheduled to open in Spring 2015.
The coal-burning boiler plant was taken offline this spring (2014) and is now in the process of being decommissioned for its eventual demolition.
Current work on the geothermal heating and cooling system is concentrated in Sykes Student Union parking lot, where 188 new wells will be installed by spring 2015, with another 120 to follow. As the wells become functional, additional buildings will be connected to the system, with Hollinger Field House topping the list.
West Chester University remains committed to environmentally sensitive practices.
"On the design and construction side," Giardina notes, "all of our work reflects ongoing participation in LEED principles. Upgrades to various academic and residence buildings this summer utilized a sustainable paint system with low VOC (volatile organic components). Mitchell Hall upgrades and the University Health Services Center in Commonwealth Hall utilized products with recycled content for vinyl flooring, carpeting and much of the fabric on the furniture. bike fix-it stationsThe upgrade of the Academic Quad was designed around the latest Best Management Practices (BMP) for stormwater management. And all project work exercised recycling principles for trash and waste management."
University Student Housing installed a community garden at The Village clubhouse for residents of the Village and East Village Apartments. Residents can choose to plant their own plots or help themselves to the herbs and vegetables planted by USH and the WCU Residence Life personnel onsite.
USH also installed water bottle refill stations and bike fix-it stations on North and South Campus. New chairs located in USH multipurpose rooms are made entirely out of Coca-Cola bottles – approximately 111 for each chair.
President Greg R. Weisenstein will give the campus community more information about the University's accomplishments and progress at his annual state of the University address. His speech is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 18, at 12:30 p.m. in Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall in Philips Memorial Building, followed by a campus-wide reception on the academic quad.