Graduate school in city proposed by mayor

“Williamsport is a college town,” said Mayor Gabriel J. Campana Wednesday, describing his attempts to recruit colleges and universities to bring a graduate school to downtown within the next year.

“We are proud of our four colleges of higher education,” he said, referencing those in existence – Commonwealth Medical College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Lycoming College and Newport Business Institute – and saying for the past five years he’s wanted to bring a graduate school offering post-graduate degrees, such as master and doctorate, to the city.

“I have had productive discussions with several accredited universities about establishing a downtown graduate school,” he said.

He declined to identify who he’s spoken to but claimed the ideal concept would be for the school to rent empty office space.

“I emphasize rent because if the school would buy a building, it would be a nonprofit,” he said.

Further explaining his reasoning, Campana said the area needs to keep students of these schools who become employed living, playing and working in the city or Lycoming County.

“Good-paying, technology-based companies often seek cities with graduate school programs to set up business,” he said. “Students from our existing undergraduate colleges could continue their economic spending and education in the city by staying another two to four years by attending a new graduate school.”

The city, he said, has many college-educated individuals, and the school would enhance employment opportunities.

He also pointed to his own educational experience and having to travel long distances to get post-graduate degrees.

“I had to travel to Florida and Philadelphia to achieve my degree,” he said. “Imagine not having to travel out of town to receive additional educational opportunities.”

In a separate issue, Campana responded to a front-page article Wednesday regarding more uses of Bowman Field, a subject discussed at the city Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.

“Williamsport Crosscutters pay $17,000 a year to rent and play games,” he said. “The city needs to see more use of the stadium and the city must continue to manage the facility.”

Asked if it was true he had a discussion with a promoter who booked the country music band Rascal Flatts, Campana said he talked to someone but said any costs associated with a concert would be paid up front and not taken from tax dollars.

“I am fielding calls from a number of interested parties and concert promoters,” he said. “I am not in the business of promoting concerts but want to give promoters of bands opportunities to rent the stadium.”

Another idea of Campana’s is to see more free, family-oriented events at the Brandon Park Band Shell.

“Events at the park wouldn’t be large-scale musical concerts,” he said.