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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


Despite Report, Facilities To Get ‘Major Upgrades’

Despite the results of the Recreation Facilities Analysis report that we published on Safeguard Old State earlier this week, the Centre Daily Times reports today that athletic facilities will “get major upgrades.” This development, in and of itself, is not necessarily a problem. What would be problematic, though, is if the administration chooses to use the facilities report to justify the athletic expansion as a cost for the entire student body to bear.

Facilities To Get Major Upgrades (CDT) — Between building a new softball stadium and soccer and golf clubhouses, Penn State athletics has its game plan set for the upcoming months.

Construction workers lay topsoil for two new soccer fields at University Park near Penn State baseball’s former home, Beaver Field. The $2.9 million project is one of several athletics facility upgrades in the works.

This fall, construction of a $9.5 million softball stadium, currently in the design phase, will take place on the site of the team’s current home, Nittany Lion Field, at University Drive and Park Avenue, said Marv Bevan, project manager for Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant.

Already in the works, a $2.9 million project to build two new varsity soccer fields has trucks dumping topsoil this week near Penn State baseball’s former home, Beaver Field, Bevan said. The old women’s soccer fields there will be converted into intramural fields.

Spearheading the For the Future capital campaign, Rodney Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, said the campaign hopes to raise money for both indoor tennis and soccer field projects.

Paul Ruskin, Office of Physical Plant spokesman, said the university is “constantly looking for ways to improve athletic facilities and make sure there are enough for all students.” Penn State hired the firm Brailsford & Dunlavey in 2005 to conduct a recreational facility analysis to “determine whether the university is meeting the demand of students as well as remaining competitive with regional and competitive institutions,” the final report reads.

A survey in the report conducted of 676 students said about 29 percent of students surveyed said recreation sports facilities and programs should be a “very high priority” for Penn State. About 54 percent of those surveyed said that, as recreational sports improvements are considered, keeping tuition and fees affordable is “very important.”

Penn State is considering charging students a $200 a year fee to help pay for facilities upgrades. The money would first be used to connect the HUB-Robeson Center to the White Building Fitness Center and Intramural Building expansion — a move that’s probably still about 10 years in the future, Ruskin said.

“All these projects are funding determined,” with the final decisions to be made by the
administration and university trustees, he said.

What’s remarkable is not that tens of millions are being poured onto new athletic fields and programs, but that the fundraising campaign “For The Future” that’s footing the bill. Penn State’s newest fundraising campaign was heralded for what its goal of increasing scholarship funds. Now we’re finding out that a significant portion of the campaign dollars are going to go toward athletic expansion?

Let me again emphasize that I don’t necessarily have a problem with athletic expansion, but that this particular fundraising campaign was supposed to help bolster our land-grant mission of making education affordable to the low and middle class citizens of the Commonwealth.

Which is more important: a plush $2 million clubhouse for the golf team or reinvesting in the core mission of the University? If Paul Ruskin from the Office of the Physical Plant is correct in saying these and future projects are already “funding determined” and being covered by the For The Future campaign, will the next (inevitable) round of construction be footed by a new, unwanted facilities fee?

Thanks to the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), you can read the entire Brailsford & Dunlavey report online and see my analysis of it here on Safeguard Old State.

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Comments

This continues to illustrate that Penn State is NOT a university. It is a business park – all of us are merely customers. There is no way to build quality relationships with fellow students or faculty when there are over 50,000 of us on this “campus”. The University only truly cares about what gets it name out there – football games, huge research grants, and thousands of alumni sporting Penn State stuff. The University is a billion dollars in debt from construction and pumps in millions of dollars in donations, yet continues to cry that they don’t have enough money.

I will stand up in front of all and say that Pennsylvania funds higher education HORRIBLY. They fund the state owned universities just about worse than Penn State, but in both cases the schools are funded horribly. However, Penn State needs to learn how to live and make it work with what it has before it continues to build and build and build. Should another massive bank crisis hit ala 1929, Penn State will be screwed for sure with $1 billion loaned.

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