Online Parents Chat with Dr. Spinelli: 2008

Below is a transcript of Dr. Spinelli's Parent Chat held on Monday, February 18, 2008.

Joe_C (Q): Dr. Spinelli, Thank you for taking time to chat with us tonight. My daughter is a 3rd year graphic design communication major. She loves the school and her major. One thing she mentions to us is the fact the school's printers always seem to be out of service. Because of this, students must take their projects to a service bureau. This can cost $30.00 and up. Can you do anything to get the printers fixed. Thank you. Joe C

Dr_Spinelli (A): We have a writing and printing-intensive environment at Philadelphia University. Much of the time students have to queue for printing and get impatient. Having said that, I am going to check on status of all printers and post results on my blog. We need to be responsive to student's needs. Thank you for your question.

Robreit (Q): Due to the shortage of student housing, please explain the rationale of the school policy that reduces a student's academic aid, when the move off campus.

Dr_Spinelli (A): We are currently planning the addition of almost 250 new beds on campus. This will occur with an expansion of Independence Plaza and the construction of a new dorm on the main campus. This will relieve much of the shortage. The total aid package is calculated assuming our costs in providing housing. That cost is not completely met by the residence fees we charge. Therefore, we have to reduce aid if students move off campus.

jimg (Q): Hi Dr. Spinelli. My question is how can we, as parents, become more involved with the University?

Dr_Spinelli (A): Thank you for the question. First stay in contact with your child. More to come.

Dr_Spinelli (A): Second, support your child by coming to campus for even the smallest of events. Find a reason to see them here on campus. Certainly events like Homecoming, Family Day, Fashion Shows, sporting events, special academic presentations, etc. More to come.

Dr_Spinelli (A): We have a new parent volunteer initiative currently in planning. You will hear more about this over the summer.

elsiab (Q): Dr. Spinelli -- my daughter is interested in interning, but is unsure how to do so. How can she go about finding an internship through PhilaU?

Dr_Spinelli (A): Please have your daughter contact Career Services (215) 951-2930. We are in the process of integrating the internship program with other career development programs. We can guide her toward both academic credit bearing internships and non-credit bearing internships.

rosemarie (Q): What is the timetable for the expansion of Independence Plaza and construction of the new dorm on the main campus?

Dr_Spinelli (A): Independence Plaza will be completed for the Fall 2008 term. The new dorm is on a fast track construction schedule that calls for Fall 2009 completion.

Robreit (Q): Dr. Spinelli thank you for answering my question about financial aid and housing. My follow up question is what happens if a student is forced to move off campus and cannot afford the decrease in their aid? Is there any relief for a student in that circumstance?

Dr_Spinelli (A): This is a policy that I have asked to be reviewed in light of increased size of the freshman class in the past several years. This policy was initially put in place to encourage students to stay on campus. But currently demand for on campus housing outstrips supply. To some extent we are a victim of our own success. Applications continue to expand and the quality of applicants continually increases.

Rae_S (Q): How do you like being President of Philadelphia University so far?

Dr_Spinelli (A): I almost feel guilty accepting my paycheck!

Mr._Jennings (Q): Do you plan on adding any graduate courses/majors in the future?

Dr_Spinelli (A): Currently we have 15 graduate majors, including a Ph.D. program. We are constantly scanning the marketplace to make sure our curriculum supports cutting edge professional employment needs. I expect we will add additional graduate majors. Right now we are seriously planning a construction management graduate degree.

Robreit (Q): Student Safety - One of my daughter's roommates works late in the design lab. She called security to drive her to the building entrance at Independence Plaza. The security person dropped her at the front of the parking lot and refused to drive her to the last building where they were living last year. Are there rules that prohibit security from driving someone late at night to their door?

Dr_Spinelli (A): I have asked Dean Govoni to check on the protocols for bringing students to their destinations at night. Certainly we do not want to leave someone far from their front door so I will make sure that this sentiment gets communicated to the Security department.

elisab (Q): In addition to interning, I'd like to see my daughter get more involved on campus. What things are there for students to do on campus for fun?

Dr_Spinelli (A): We have literally dozens of campus groups that plan activities around their interests. The easiest way for your daughter to decide where she might take her energies is for her to check with the Director of Student Activities, Tim Butler 215-951-2744, for guidance on how to get involved in her interests.

rosemarie (Q): How prevalent is drug and alcohol use in the dorms and how is it dealt with?

Dr_Spinelli (A): We have our share of drug and alcohol problems. My impression is that we do not have more than our share. We have extensive intervention protocols in the residence halls to engage students who are in violation of our drug and alcohol policies. We also have considerable training for our peer counselors in intervention and support of students who are experiencing drug and alcohol use for the first time.

daddyslilgurl22 (Q): Dr. Spinelli is there anyway to renegoitate an Academic Scholarship? It originally was based on SAT scores but this student has been on the Dean's List 5 out of 5 times.

Dr_Spinelli (A): We grant our academic scholarships in hopes that students will perform to their potential. Unfortunately we cannot increase scholarship aid with each student who fulfills his or her promise. It has been shown that exceptional performance exhibited by students who achieve consistent Dean's list status will be rewarded in the marketplace.

Ricki_Hurwitz (Q): My daughter is in digital media. At times, she has been disappointed by the teaching ability and/or media program knowledge of adjunct professors or teachers. How can this be improved?

Dr_Spinelli (A): We survey our students for each course they complete. Our student satisfaction results have consistently exceeded our peer group averages. Having said that, it is important that every professor perform at a very high level. I would encourage your daughter to reflect her concerns both in the student evaluations and in special communications to the dean of the school of design and media (Dennis Kuronen, 215 951-2106).

Vince_L (Q): On the growth of the university, do you plan on getting much bigger or staying the same size?

Dr_Spinelli (A): Currently we are at approximately 2,500 full time undergraduates and 500 graduate students. We have no immediate plans for growth beyond small increments for highly qualified candidates. However, this is an essential question in our strategic planning initiative.

Rae_S (Q): I know you have an entrepreneurship background. In addition to being president, do you hve plans to teach, as well?

Dr_Spinelli (A): I will be teaching New Venture Creation in the Fall of 2008. This will be a graduate course but exceptional undergraduate students will be encouraged to enroll. Tell them to be ready for a real challenge!

marvin.arthur (Q): Do you receive a report on classes where professors are absent, either planned or unplanned? Since this semester has started, three different classes have had missing, or planned substitute professors. What can be done about this situation?

Dr_Spinelli (A): Hello Mr. Arthur. I think we spoke about this earlier in the semester. Substitute professors can add a great deal of texture and specificity to a curriculum. Most of the time substitutes are planned in advance, sometimes for the specific purpose of adding the aforementioned texture. It is inexcusable to miss a class without contacting the students. I want to know any time that occurs on this campus. When I do find out, the professor is addressed personally. It has to be one heck of an emergency to gain any sympathy from me. Otherwise they will not be welcome to our faculty in future semesters.

JimCor (Q): Dr. Spinelli, Incase we have further questions during the course of the semester, how can we get in contact with you directly?

Dr_Spinelli (A): Please send me an email any time at: And I will either answer personally or forward your email to the person who can best respond to your concern.

rosemarie (Q): Will there be an increase in tuition next year?

Dr_Spinelli (A): We are currently reviewing the anticipated increases in cost structure and will make a recommendation to the Trustees. The costs of operating the University are often different than the consumer price index or CPI that is reported in the popular press. We need to do careful analysis of those costs.

JimCor (Q): Since IP will be undergoing construction this summer, do you plan to upgrade the facilities (such as putting in new windows, heating, etc)? This year my daughter and her roomates have had heating problems due to the old windows and bug problems due to holes in the window screens, airconditoners, and baseboards.

Dr_Spinelli (A): In the renovation process we will be addressing some large system issues such as HVAC and other upgrades, especially to kitchens and bathrooms.

Ricki_Hurwitz (Q): Are there any plans for the townhouses? This seems like an ideal location for denser student housing, and they are not in great shape.

Dr_Spinelli (A): We are razing two-thirds of the Townhouses in order to make way for the new Residence Hall. So, in effect, we are adding beds to Independence Plaza to replace the townhouses that are being demolished. We will retain 30 beds in the Townhouses.

rosemarie (Q): Is an active effort made to pursue significant donations or grants to the university from outside benefactors to help offset tuition increases and other costs? If so, how successful have these efforts been?

Dr_Spinelli (A): We recently completed a successful capital campaign that resulted in the construction of the Kanbar Center and the Gallagher Recreation Center. These two world-class facilities have dramatically enhanced the quality of life at Philadelphia University. We continue to actively solicit new philanthropy, much of which is being applied to our endowed scholarship program.

Robreit (Q): Dr. Spinelli Thank you for taking time to answer the various questions submitted. It shows that you care about the students and want to be made aware of issues and try to address them if possible.

Dr_Spinelli (A): One of the reasons I am so excited about being president of Philadelphia University is that there is a pervasive attitude amongst faculty, staff and alums that students are the reason we exist and provide the motivation for inspired education every day. I am particularly grateful to the parents who have joined me for this chat. This is an inaugural event that I hope will become a tradition. Thank you. I hope we will be able to visit in person on campus.