Penn State Board Of Trustees Tables $100 Million Commonwealth Campus Residence Hall Project

Your dream of living on Penn State’s Abington or Brandywine campus has failed to be realized, at least for now.

For essentially the first time ever, a committee’s recommendation was defeated when brought up to the full board. Alumni trustees argued to table the additions to the Penn State Abington and Brandywine campuses that would total more than $100 million combined. The project would include residence halls at both and a new student union building at Brandywine.

The trustees urged the board to table the project in order to take the time to further study those campuses. “I think we can spend a couple of more months at this, and talk about it more and get a little more information, and then have another discussion,” alumni-elected trustee Anthony Lubrano said. “So I support tabling this at this time.”

Lubrano argued that there is an opportunity for the board to build a relationship with Governor Tom Wolf, seeing as he is a “friend of public education.” Wolf, according to his secretary of policy and planning John Hanger, wants to put more money into Penn State, but this money must be spent “very carefully.” Hanger also argued that changing the commuter element of both campuses would also change their character, and that sufficient time needs to be allotted to studying both campuses.

Trustee Ira Lubert supported tabling the vote, even though he was adamant that he’s “fully committed to voting yes for both of these projects.”

“I believe that we should defer this until the January meeting,” Lubert said. “Just comments by trustee McCombie and others show there are clearly questions that need to be answered.” Lubert advised the board to bring questions about the project to the January meeting so that they can dedicate the appropriate time to considering and analyzing the additions.

Gubernatorial trustee Mark Dambly, who proposed the resolution, was concerned with not hurting the campuses’ feelings, but made a motion to retract the resolution anyway.

“I can tell you these Commonwealth campuses are going to be completely deflated,” Dambly said. “They already feel in a lot of ways disenfranchised from University Park, and we spent a lot of time and energy attempting to make them not feel that way because that is not the way we feel about it.”

Dambly walked out of the meeting before a decision was reached.

Chairman of the Board Keith Masser said that a special meeting will be held in December so that the projects could be considered in a timely manner, noting that too much delay may hinder the proposed deadline of having the dorms move-in ready for students by 2017.

The manner was wrapped up and ready for later discussion and the meeting was just about adjourned when Masser urged the board to take the time to learn more about these projects, ask questions, and “be prepared to vote yes or no by the second or third week of December” in his closing remarks.