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PSU president visits Mont Alto

March 26, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Penn State Mont Alto students weren't bashful about telling Graham B. Spanier, president of Penn State University, what changes are needed at the university's Mont Alto campus during Spanier's visit here Thursday.

Spanier, who has headed the 41,000-student university system for four years, also met with faculty and area educational, civic and government leaders during his visit.

Uppermost in the student's thoughts were housing at the main campus at University Park, the Mont Alto campus' forestry program and a move to require all students to own computers.

Spanier met with nearly 100 students. Many vented their frustrations over trying to get housing on the university's main campus in State College, Pa. They suggested to Spanier that the University give on-campus housing preference to sophomores in the 23 satellite campuses over incoming main campus freshmen.

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"We've been in the system for two years, They're just coming in and they get housing first," complained one student.

Spanier said the main campus has space for 13,000 students and a list of 15,000 who want on-campus housing. He also said the university is building more housing units.

Spanier, who said he will visit all 23 satellite campuses this year, is Penn State's 16th president.

He spoke of a growing trend in universities and colleges to require that students own computers.

He predicted that would be the case at Penn State in a few more years. "Surveys show that 60 percent of Penn State students now own computers and the number is going up by 10 percent a year," he said.

Some students argued about the cost, but Spanier said it could be included in applications for financial aid if computers were required. He also said the university would be able to sell computers "at rock-bottom prices and offer incredible software that most students could not afford to buy on their own."

Several students in the school's forestry program, including Doug Konkle, 21, a sophomore, told Spanier that many students, even those planning on a four-year degree, enroll in the two-year associate degree program because it is more hands-on. "You get to go out in the woods with a saw in your hands," he said.

Konkle said Penn State's main campus won't accept most credits from Mont Alto's two-year program while many out-of-state universities will.

Konkle said he's transferring to West Virginia University because that school will accept 95 percent of his Mont Alto credits and he can take tests to get credit for the rest.

"They really need to make some changes in the forestry program here," he said.

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