MANSFIELD - Mansfield University is tying into the Marcellus Shale play, and students probably will pay more to attend school next year, it was said during a Council of Trustees meeting Wednesday.
In an effort to "strengthen, enhance and sustain the long-term viability of the university," a new institute that will "work with all segments of the gas industry to help meet the educational needs of employees as well as develop academic programs to prepare MU students for careers in the field," has been established, interim President Dr. Allan Golden said.
The trustees also received word that the administration will recommend a 20 percent rate increase per semester for housing; a 3 percent rate increases for meals and $10 per semester increase in student activity fees for 2012-13 at the board's next meeting in August.
If approved, the housing rates will increase from $2,513 for a standard double room to $3,016; the 19 meal plan with $200 flex will increase from $1,526 to $1,572, and the activity fee will increase from $146 per semester to $156 per semester, a 6.8 percent increase.
The Marcellus Shale Institute will contain new programs now under review, including several concentrations to serve the gas industry, said Dr. Peter Keller, provost and vice president of academic affairs.
Among the proposed new programs are an associate's degree in natural gas production through the Geography and Geology Department and a bachelor's degree in safety management through the Health Sciences Department.
Both are programs that gas industry leaders indicated are needed in the field, both in the Marcellus Shale region and across the country, Golden added.
"We are trying to do in six months what would traditionally take 18 months," Golden said.
In a statement released earlier this week, Golden noted that from Gov. Tom Corbett to state Rep. Matthew E. Baker, R-Wellsboro, expressed support for the new institute, of which Lindsey Sikorski has been named interim director.
Sikorski previously served as director of community relations at the university.
He added that the SeaTrax safety training program taught on campus through Sikorski's department now has trained almost 5,000 gas and oil workers for Shell from areas throughout the U.S.
Louis D'Amico, executive director of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, lauded the university's direction.
In other business, the board:
Heard from Golden that construction of the next phase of the new residence halls will begin in June if financing can be secured, with completion by August 2013.
Heard from Keller that there has been an increase in the number of fall 2012 applications.
Approved a list of capital projects for fiscal year 2012-13 in vice president of finance and administration Dr. Daniel DoBell's report including a $4.8 million expansion of Butler Music Center; a $4 million safety enhancement of Morris Drive; and the $4.375 million Maple Hall demolition and parking lot.
Heard that Dr. Christine Cavanaugh will be at the university at 7 p.m. April 12 for a leadership lecture in Straughn Auditorium.
Heard that a search committee for a new president has been formed, with the goal of finding a new president and having him or her installed by Jan. 1, 2013.
Changed the July 25 meeting date to Aug. 1 in the North Hall community room.