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Board Of Trustees Approves New Engineering Building Plans, $353 Million State Appropriation Request

Penn State’s Board of Trustees met virtually Friday afternoon to approve a number of items, including a $353 million state appropriation request and plans for a new research building on west campus.

The board unanimously passed a motion to not increase graduate apartment rental rates in White Course Apartments for the 2021-22 academic year, as recommended by its Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning Thursday.

The monthly rate for a one and two-bedroom apartment will remain at $1,168 and $1,321, respectively. A three-bedroom apartment with a a single bathroom will lease for $1,459, and a three-bedroom with one-and-a-half baths will lease for $1,474. Four-bedroom quad apartments will continue to lease for $938 per person.

The rental rate will affect the 154 apartments reserved for single graduate students and graduate students with families.

The board also unanimously passed a motion to expand the West Campus Chiller Plant, as recommended by its Committee of Finance, Business and Capital Planning Thursday.

The $9.5-million expansion will add a new 3,000-ton chiller, four new cooling towers, a new chilled water pump, a new condenser water pump, and new supporting equipment to meet campus’ cooling demands.

Transitioning to a centralized cooling system will be more energy-efficient than cooling buildings individually and will support Penn State’s long term sustainability goals, according to the board.

The board also unanimously approved renaming the Penn State Berks “Beaver Community Center” to the “Beaver Athletics and Wellness Center,” as recommended by its Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning.

Next, the board unanimously authorized $88 million and approved the final design plans for the “West 2” research and teaching building near west campus, as recommended by its Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning Thursday. The approval is the next stage in a decade-long initiative that will benefit the College of Engineering.

Additionally, the trustees unanimously approved a state appropriation request of $353.1 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year, as recommended by the committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning Thursday. The request comes at a $14.2 million increase over the 2020-2021 appropriation.

If the state provides additional support, the university’s appropriation would increase by 4.2% overall. The request will be submitted to the state later this month, and the General Assembly and governor will determine the final appropriation during the budget process in June.

“We recognize the fiscal realities by the Commonwealth in which resources must be able to contain and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “We appreciate very much that Penn State received level funding for 2021.”

The request includes $58.3 million for Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension ($3.3 million increase), $27.5 million for Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport ($802,000 increase), $15.6 million for Penn State Health and the College of Medicine ($453,000 increase), and $2.35 million in new funding to support the Invent Penn State initiative.

The board unanimously approved the transfer of parcels of real estate on the Penn State Hershey Campus to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in an effort to establish Penn State Health as its own separate group.

Penn State Alumni Association CEO Paul Clifford presented an update on the organization. He emphasized widespread member support for student-athletes, commitment to inclusion and diversity, and the seamless transition from student to alumni.

Barron later discussed Penn State’s current coronavirus case numbers and alternatives to sending students home if a need to do so arises. He said Penn State could reduce exposure by suspending the use of specific buildings, quarantine a program, suspend some in-person programs, quarantine residents of a specific hall, pause in-person classes for two weeks, pause programs at specific campuses, or move all programs and classes online for an affected campus.

“Challenging times matched by extraordinary effort,” Barron said. “That is the way I really feel about the last six months of challenging times, but it has actually been an incredible effort on behalf of so many people in this university.”

Despite a number of unanimous votes, Trustee Donald Cortner was not in attendance.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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