Penn State New Kensington chancellor building partnerships

July 10, 2009

New Kensington, Pa. – Penn State New Kensington is assuming the leadership role in building private-public partnerships and developing a strategic plan for the future of the campus, as well as the Alle-Kiski Valley region, reported Kevin Snider, chancellor of the campus, today (July 10) to the University's Board of Trustees.

"With our reputation for excellence, Penn State has to be the catalyst for helping to guide this effort," said Snider, whose campus hosted the Board's regular July meeting. "We are the premier higher education institution in this area and the major contributor to the workforce that is vital to economic prosperity of the region." 
Snider highlighted the movement by the University to become more involved in the communities where its 24 campuses are located by "returning to our roots and becoming a more engaged institution."

"Engagement leads to multiple opportunities for our students, such as the baseball study for the city of New Kensington, and a survey for a strategic plan for surrounding communities," said Snider, who is beginning his second year as chancellor of the 900-student campus. "These two projects brought together local officials with our students and faculty."

Still, Snider acknowledged there are some obstacles to overcome. Challenges facing both the campus and the community include image, resources and enrollment. Snider views these challenges as opportunities for Penn State to help the region become more economically vibrant.

At the forefront of Snider's efforts is the issue of image. As the first step in the process, Snider unveiled the campus' new vision statement:

Our vision is to be known as a leader for the ways in which we bring Penn State to our students and community.  Specifically we will be a campus that:

—    provides students with a Penn State quality education built on personal attention, engaged learning, and preparation for careers in a competitive, global environment.

—     collaborates with colleagues across the University to provide world-class educational opportunities that honor Penn State traditions and enhance personal growth.

—    uses partnerships, engagement, and the resources of Penn State to enhance the quality of life and economic development of the region.
The vision statement was developed over the past nine months through a series of on-campus sessions that collected input from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders.

In recognizing the need for more resources, Snider indicated that upgrading facilities, such as the Athletics Center, and adding amenities, such as quality food service, will require creative solutions. Four miles east of the campus, along the Route 780 corridor, are the Alcoa Technical Center and Westmoreland Industrial Park. With more than 3,600 employees combined at the two sites, Snider is looking to produce new revenue streams by improving campus facilities while also addressing the companies' needs.

"For instance, rather than have just an athletic facility, let’s include a wellness center that, through programming and memberships, can also help local corporations and the local community," Snider said. "By improving our food service, employees of nearby companies can use our cafeteria, which in-turn will support the higher level of quality."

Other income-generating projects mentioned by Snider include construction of new multi-purpose fields behind the Athletics Center and an upgrade of an adjacent soccer field. The new grass fields will be used for a variety of intramural sports and for community soccer leagues, as well as for youth soccer camps. The current soccer field is maximum regulation size and will serve as home for the campus' men's and women's soccer teams that begin play in 2010.

The declining demographics in the region and the effects on enrollment present a third challenge for the campus and the community. According to Snider, the way to reverse the population loss is by engaging the community and becoming a leading partner in the development of the area. Coupling the academic expertise of Penn State with the assets of the region can help attract younger families to the area, add to the tax base and increase enrollment, Snider said.

Collaboration has been made easier in part by the campus' association with the Pennsylvania Prosperity Partnership, a Penn State initiative to develop regional prosperity across the Commonwealth. The project spawned the formation of the Westmoreland Economic Development Initiative for Growth, a group of community leaders who are working to attract new business and industry to the area.

Spearheaded by the New Kensington chancellor, the group hosted an on-campus forum in June for 100 local business owners and government officials to discuss regional economic development.

"If our initiatives are successful, we will create a future region that is thriving economically and directly benefitting the lives of Pennsylvanians," Snider said. "Together we are building a quality campus that will be at the center of a vibrant economic area.

  • Kevin Snider

    IMAGE: Penn State Public Information

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010