Online Students Chat with Dr. Spinelli: 1/27/10

Below is a transcript of Dr. Spinelli's online student chat held on Wednesday, January 27, 2010.

spinelli(P) Hi everyone! This is Steve Spinelli. I am looking forward to your questions. This has been a very good year for Philadelphia University. But, we strive to get better and believe good communications with our students is one way to do that. Please fire away.

billyb(Q) Is the University going to increase tuition?

spinellli(A)Great first question. We are very much aware of the pressures our students and their families are facing. The good news is that our alums are responding to our calls for increased philanthropy to the University. That has allowed us to increase our financial aid to needy students by almost 10% last year. We will remain diligent in attempting to raise the money necessary to support our students. We will likely raise tuition next year at the modest rate we have in the past few years, but again we have an eye toward increased financial aid.

phillyu(Q) What does the strategic implementation plan entail??

spinellli(A)There are seven strategic initiatives in our plan. I am very excited about the progress we have made in implementing these initiatives. At the heart of our plan is collaborative, active, real world and engaged learning. The most compelling example of this kind of curriculum is the Design, Engineering and Commerce (DEC) initiative. There were somewhere around 13 such course collaborations this past fall and many spectacular outcomes. Propper Brothers being the example that comes to mind first. Propper Brothers is a local furniture company that presented a complex multi-disciplinary problem that design, engineering, business and liberal arts students worked on, presenting interesting and important solutions. It was a home run. More to follow on this in the spring semester.

knowjuan(Q) When are we going to get more residence halls?

spinellli(A)Another good question. We are working on plans and alternatives for adding as many as 300 new beds to the current number, approximately 1400. We expect to move ahead with a plan within the next 12-18 months.

patel7906(Q) Is the new architecture building we will be getting for fourth and fifth years? If so, would that mean sophmores would move to the A&D Center?

spinellli(A)The new center will increase our studio space by almost 14,000 square feet. This will provide much greater flexibility for scheduling in the architecture curriculum. Dean Nathan and her team are constructing such a plan as we speak. We are not at the stage of earmarking space for a particular class. The Hughes project will be ready fall 2010.

phillyu(Q) How do you envision the university to be different in 5 years(will we offer different programs, will we be dismantling any, will their be any new buildings, etc.)

spinellli(A)We are working intensively to infuse innovation in all programs in the present curriculum. Our strategic plan calls for significant growth in graduate programs and targeted initiatives in several undergraduate programs. New buildings will almost certainly be a part of the University's growth. I am particularly excited about conceiving of a new DEC building --state of the art teaching and learning space.

phillyu(Q) Is there a plan for the fate of the design center? I'm under the impression that there will no longer be exhibitions held there, but what will happen to all of the historical textile and garment items in the collection? Can students still access them?

spinellli(A)Certainly students will have access to our textile collection. The textile collection is an important part of our legacy. As a matter of fact we are exploring ways and methods to increase access, exposure and use of this collection and of the design center itself. Our new provost, Dr. Swearer (the former dean of The Parsons School of Design), is particularly excited about creative use of this space to enhance your Philadelphia University experience.

student2013(Q) Re: Housing: Will 300 more beds be enough to accomodate all students that want to live on campus? What kind of housing will it be?

spinellli(A)Estimating student demand for housing is an inexact science. The additional 300 beds will certainly move us closer to the right number. We are being careful not to overshoot student demand. That means we will continue to explore the expansion of upper class housing options. We also have a plan to begin a renovation project to address our residence halls at Ravenhill and Scholler Hall. Ideally we would like to meet demand for student housing for all students.

phillyu(Q) Awesome! Thank you.

spinellli(A)Thank you and please communicate with our faculty about any ideas you and your fellow students might have to creatively use this space. P.S. You are awesome also.

knowjuan(Q) So, what was up on Calumet Street?

spinellli(A)Early Sunday morning some Philadelphia University students were cited for liquor law violations. There is a need for students and community residents to learn how to live together in a cordial and civilized manner. We remain engaged with both the community members and our students to resolve these conflicts. We believe most of our students are mature and want to be good neighbors. Some don't always meet that standard.

student2013(Q) Is there a reason why the dorms always close on a Friday morning? It's kind of a hassle for my parents that it's not on a weekend.

spinellli(A)I assume you are asking why dorms close on Friday mornings following the last final exam. We generally close dorms 24 hours after the last exam is complete. It is difficult and expensive to monitor and supervise randomly occupied dorms. We have experimented with weekend openings at the beginning of a semester, and find that most students wait until the day before classes to arrive. What would be a better solution?

chloe(Q) Will the new 14,000sf architecture building allocate space for the grad students in sustainability?

spinellli(A)Graduate students, and of course that includes those in sustainability, are certainly an important part of the space utilization planning process. I am afraid I can't give much more detail at this time.

student2013(Q) Any plans on expanding the athletic facilities? It would be great to have a pool.

spinellli(A)No plans for a pool, but we are looking at the installation of an artificial surface playing field. Have you considered using the Penn Charter pool open to Philadelphia University students Monday and Wednesday nights from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.?

Fra820nk(Q) how will you work to improve the quality of studios and labs ie, the architecture department

spinellli(A)We certainly believe that the multi-million dollar investment in Hughes is a good start. We are always interested in your suggestions about next steps.

student2013(Q) Any plans on upgrading IT on campus?

spinellli(A)Our plan is to be a wireless campus. We think we can accomplish that in the next 12-18 months.

Fra820nk(Q) surely there are smaller steps that can be taken. in the a + d center the one set of bathrooms are filthy. also, small things such as new green table tops on the desks would be great

spinellli(A)I appreciate hearing your concerns and your recommendations for improvements. Your comments seem to be reasonable and addressable. Let me work on it and get more conclusive answers in the next couple of days. I will post a more detailed answer on my blog but will certainly communicate with Dean Nathan.

mps(Q) Referring to phillyu's first question about the strategic plan, can you share with us the six initiatives? You mentioned one initiative, DEC, design, engineering, commerce. Where do we find the strategic implementation plan? thanks

1. Formalizing our signature learning
2. Achieving innovation...DEC
3. Advancing applied research
4. Investing in academic strengths
5. Building graduate and professional programs
6. Developing innovative facilities
7. Integrating curricular and co-curricular learning

smiley(Q) Has there been a good number of applicants from High school seniors to become part of the freshman class?

spinellli(A)Happy to report we are at a record number of applications for this time of the year, up 6% from last year.

Fra820nk(Q) when should we expect to see hughes completed?

spinellli(A)Fall 2010.

spinelli(P) Thank you for your questions and your enthusiasm. I believe our students are the most creative, innovative and intelligent students ever.