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August 30, 2012

Study details UPB’s economic impact

BRADFORD — An economic impact study released Aug. 23 showed that the Pitt-Bradford campus contributed $67.5 million to the region’s economy in fiscal year 2011 and that it is poised to have a larger impact in the future.

According to the study, by Sabina Deitrich and Christopher Briem of the University Center for and Social and Urban Research, in conjunction with consultant William Lafe, the $67.5 million represents the UPB campus’s institutional spending as well as student spending off campus.

The researchers drew economic data from McKean, Elk and Warren counties in Pennsylvania and neighboring Cattaraugus County in New York. They included Cameron, Forest and Potter counties in assessing UPB’s community impact and partnerships.

Citing the campus’s multiple roles in teaching, research, job training, community involvement, engaged scholarship and service learning, volunteerism, recreation and enrichment, the authors stated that UPB has become an important anchor institution since its establishment in 1963.

“It is a major source for economic and community development in helping to improve the quality of life in the region and, as the institution moves into its second half-century, it will continue to expand its impacts in the region,” the study found.

The study is posted at

Swarts Hall on the Bradford campus. A recent economic study showed UPB contributed $67.5 million to the local economy last year.

Swarts Hall on the Bradford campus. A recent economic study showed UPB contributed $67.5 million to the local economy last year.

In a press conference during which he announced the study’s findings, UPB President Livingston Alexander said UPB’s last economic impact study was conducted in 1992.

“We felt as we approach our 50th anniversary that we wanted to demonstrate the impact — or, as some people say, return on investment — the impact we’re having on our region, both economic as well as community,” he said.

In addition to communicating to the local community UPB’s impact, Alexander said, “We’re also mindful of the fact that there’s a lot of change going on at the state level,” citing a commission tasked by Gov. Tom Corbett to examine higher education in Pennsylvania. (See Feb. 9 University Times.)

“There’s a lot of scrutiny on colleges and universities throughout the commonwealth,” he said. “This is a good time for us to document publicly the impact that a college like Pitt-Bradford has in a rural area the size of Connecticut, which is only served by one four-year institution.”

Economic and community impact

According to the study, UPB’s activities and student spending support some 740 jobs in the region: 550 directly and an additional 184 produced by the indirect effects of University expenditures and consumer spending.

In addition, over the course of the past decade, UPB has averaged $6.3 million in capital projects annually, including the construction of residence halls, a chapel and performing arts center, plus building renovations.

Alexander said that 56 percent of UPB graduates have found jobs in the region and nearly one-third of UPB alumni live in the six-county region.

Campus contributions to the region’s quality of life include training for industry, workshops, children’s programs and arts events for the public. In addition, Alexander noted, members of the UPB community contribute to the community through their volunteer service as well as their charitable contributions.

Enrollment strong

Although final numbers for the fall term aren’t yet available, Alexander on Monday updated his estimate of UPB’s student population, telling the University Times that UPB’s current headcount is 1,516 with a full-time equivalent (FTE) of 1,428.

According to the 2012 Pitt Fact Book, the fall 2011 headcount at UPB was 1,564 with FTE of 1486.6.

Alexander told the University Times that enrollment began to reflect the effects of the recession in 2010, with retention dipping in spite of strong freshman classes. That, in conjunction with large graduating classes, has affected FTE, he explained.

At the Aug. 23 press conference, Alexander said most UPB students come from Pennsylvania and western New York but increasing numbers are coming from farther-flung areas including more than half of the states in the United States as well as from 20-25 other countries. He said the campus will have a record 32 international students this year, hailing from countries including China, Germany, Taiwan, Japan, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Colombia, Korea and Vietnam.

Noting that many students from the local area don’t have the opportunity to travel overseas or experience other cultures, Alexander said the campus’s international student population adds to the diversity of the community on campus and beyond.

UPB is hosting two Confucius Institute scholars from China this year — a first for the campus that is likely to continue in future years, Alexander said. The scholars not only will teach Chinese language and culture courses on campus, but will offer seminars for the community as well, he said, citing particular benefit to Bradford-area businesses that do business in China.

Hiring anticipated

Robust enrollment — especially as UPB draws more students from outside the region and outside the United States — eventually will result in an increased need for more faculty and staff, with a corresponding effect on the local economy, Alexander said.

“We grew our programs very fast during the last two strategic plans. Before the plan we developed in 2004, we had 24 four-year baccalaureate degree programs and we had five associate degree programs. We now have 36 four-year baccalaureate degree programs and six associate degree programs,” he said.

“Even considering the programs we currently offer, we are thin in some areas and there is a need to bring in more faculty members to provide greater faculty diversity for students in certain areas.”

Alexander said, “We would love to bring in additional faculty members in programs that have only one faculty member,” citing as an example UPB’s public relations program.

While the campus administration had anticipated supplying the additional programs with adequate numbers of faculty, the recession and subsequent budget reductions delayed those plans. “But the need is still there to add faculty members to support programs that we developed,” Alexander said, adding that UPB recently submitted a request to the University to approve a search for nine new faculty members. He anticipates a response within the next few weeks.

Additional housing needed

UPB is working with an architect to determine how to replace aging housing on campus and expand the number of beds in response to increased demand. Alexander said the lack of sufficient off-campus housing puts increased pressure on UPB to provide on-campus housing.

To increase on-campus housing from the current 936 to a targeted 1,000 beds would take a phased approach over a decade, Alexander said.

“That’s part of our discussion with the architect: How do we maintain present capacity even as we demolish those buildings that were built in 1972?”

Alexander noted that the units — totaling 340 beds  — weren’t built but were brought intact onto the campus as temporary housing.

“We anticipate not only having a need to build new housing, we also have the need to replace housing that was built in 1972, which each year is becoming more and more expensive to maintain,” he said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 45 Issue 1

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