By DONOVAN HARRELL
Pitt–Bradford and Pitt–Titusville are adjusting to new leadership as multiple construction projects are in the works.
Rick Esch, interim president for the two campuses and vice president for business affairs at Pitt–Bradford, took on his new role on July 1 after former president Catherine Koverola abruptly resigned at the end of June.
Provost Ann Cudd said there will be a national search for a new president for Bradford and Titusville, but she’s not in a great hurry.
“For right now, I think Rick Esch is doing a really good job of preparing campus for the fall. …” Cudd said. “I've been up there a couple of times to talk with faculty and faculty leaders, and he seems to have their confidence.”
Esch said the Bradford and Titusville campuses haven’t been immune from the challenges of COVID-19. The school has seen a slight dip in enrollment, he said. He attributed this to multiple factors, including changes in the job market in the region, mental health issues for students and an increasing political divide over vaccinations and wearing masks.
Despite these issues, students “are clamoring to get back” on campus, he said. The school’s green space and lower population density help prevent the spread of covid on campus.
As of Aug. 24, 69 percent of all registered students are vaccinated and 6 percent have asked for exemptions. For faculty and staff, 66 percent are vaccinated.
For students living on campus, 83 percent are fully vaccinatedå. About 34 percent of residents in the surrounding county are fully vaccinated.
Esch said about 99 percent of staff have returned to their offices on campus since May 1, and the school is ramping up its efforts to make sure its community is vaccinated. This includes incentivizing the vaccine, a social media push and numerous posters and flyers around campus.
Construction on a new $24.5 million, 40,000-square-foot Engineering and Information Technologies building officially broke ground on Aug. 13. It’s expected to be finished by mid-September 2022, Esch said.
The building will house Pitt-Bradford’s Computer Information Systems and Technology program along with several new labs.
Pitt-Bradford also has gotten Pitt’s approval to begin recruiting students for two new bachelor’s degree programs in mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology, which will also be housed in the new building once construction is finished.
This new building also creates a new courtyard near Pitt–Bradford’s Hanley Library.
The school also is designing and developing a new soccer and lacrosse field project, Esch said, and construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2022 and finish by fall 2022. The schools men's and women's soccer teas will be available play the time construction is finished, but lacrosse teams are expected to be available by 2023.
Pitt–Bradford is planning to eventually renovate its townhouse apartments as well.
As for Pitt–Titusville, the McKinney Student Union will eventually house the Manufacturing Assistance Center programs once renovations are complete.
Renovations to Titusville’s Broadhurst Science Center are on track to finish in September. The center will house the school’s nursing and teaching facilities and Manchester Bidwell’s medical assistance programs.
Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-383-9905.
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