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Wilson College gets computer grant

February 10, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Small colleges like Wilson College often have trouble finding money to keep up with computer technology, but a $200,000 grant to the Chambersburg school will go a long way toward reaching that goal, said school spokesman John K. Carothers.

"It's a real challenge for small institutions to keep up with the technology," said Carothers, vice president for development at Wilson.

"Many of us bought home PCs three years ago only to find them obsolete now. Wilson has the same problem - do we buy an available system now that will become obsolete in a few years or wait and buy the latest technology?" he said.

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The $200,000, from the Josiah W. and Bessie Kline Foundation of Harrisburg, Pa., will let Wilson upgrade its computer technology in phases. The money will come in $50,000 installments each year for the next four years, Carothers said.

The Kline Foundation has helped Wilson in the past, but this is its biggest grant to the college, he said.

The first year's payment will be for new and replacement computers in the college's continuing education and liberal arts programs, he said.

Fast Start, the college's name for a retraining program for laid-off workers, will get the first new computers, Carothers said.

The program retrains people who have lost jobs from the downsizing of the Letterkenny Army Depot and at area factories like Schoeneman Co., a garment factory that had more than 1,100 employees last year when it announced it would close. Employment at the plant is down to about 300 workers and it is scheduled to close for good in August.

Carothers said more than 130 students learned new job skills in 1996, about 85 percent of whom have found new employment.

"They learned enough basic skills in word processing, data base management, desk top publishing and office accounting" to find a job, said Gloria O'Donnell, a college spokeswoman.

Money from the grant this year will also pay to upgrade computers in the liberal arts program, Carothers said.

Wilson separated its co-educational continuing education program from the 128-year-old women's liberal arts program in 1993. There are nearly 800 full- and part-time students attending classes in Wilson's two-year, associate's degree program and four-year baccalaureate program, Carothers said.

"Liberal arts colleges need computers to add to the learning process, not just to put an encyclopedia on the shelves," Carothers said.

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