LHU’s president, Michael Fiorentino, stated in an open forum Tuesday that the Haven will face many changes throughout the upcoming summer, including the demolition of several buildings.
At the end of this spring semester, construction will commence to bring down Russell Hall, Gross Hall and the Annex. After the demolition of Russell, the university will begin its University Commons Project – which calls for all new landscaping of Russell lawn and the construction of two new pavilions.
On top of those projects, crews will also be renovating Woolrich Hall, building a glass addition for Ulmer Hall and working on the roof of Sloan.
“This will be a very busy summer,” Fiorentino said.
The president warned that the ongoing construction will disrupt the flow of traffic both surrounding campus and on the campus itself, and will also impact parking. However, he said, all of the disruptions will be worth the good these changes will do for current and incoming students.
“We’ll certainly do our best in making sure people know far in advance about upcoming changes,” he said. “There will be some inconveniences. But we’re doing construction that will make our campus more attractive and more productive.”
The aesthetic changes are just a few of the things Lock Haven is doing to try to improve its attendance and retention rates. Starting this fall, incoming will be required to live on campus for both their freshman and sophomore years.
President Fiorentino stated that students who live on campus longer are more likely to stay at that university for the extent of their degree program, and also tend to have higher success rates.
“If there’s something we can do to increase student success and satisfaction, that’s very important for us to do,” Fiorentino said.
Another topic of discussion during the forum was Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget and how it may affect LHU’s budget if it passes.
Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget currently intends to restore recent cuts made to higher education within the next two years. If it passes as is, state higher education will see an increase of 11 percent – that’s $45 million. Wolf’s budget also calls for state colleges and community colleges to freeze their tuition prices for the next school year.
“I think that’s a step in the right direction,” Fiorentino said.
However, due to how complex the proposed budget is, it may not be completed until mid- to late-June.
In the meantime, President Fiorentino said they are working on multiple tentative budgets based on different possibilities – including receiving flat funding for the third year in a row, “to cover our bases,” Fiorentino said.