Back to school/West: College campuses welcome students

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New buildings, food offerings and international students are on the campuses of colleges in the West suburbs this year. Here's a roundup of back-to-campus events:

Geneva College

For the third year in a row, the college and the Golden Tornadoes football program is offering free seats to the public for the season opener at 7 p.m. Saturday at Reeves Field in Beaver Falls.

Free admission to the game against Frostburg State is a token of appreciation for the support the community shows the Christian college, according to a news release from Geneva.

The football game marks the start of the college's first season as a full member of NCAA Division III. Geneva's 15 varsity teams will compete in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. The 10-school conference includes Washington & Jefferson College and Westminster College.

In keeping with tradition, incoming freshmen participated in the Our Town event -- a day of community service projects -- on Saturday at the Beaver Falls Salvation Army Food Bank, Carnegie Free Library of Beaver Falls, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and a number of churches.

This year, some Geneva students will live off campus as part of a program called City House. They will live in the house and work to make a difference in the distressed community of Beaver Falls.

Nineteen Geneva students will leave Sept. 9 to participate in Geneva's Semester in Rome program, which includes community service there.

Robert Morris University

The school begins its 90th year with two new buildings and new food offerings in the campus dining hall on University Boulevard in Moon.

The new 18,000-square-foot building for the School of Business opened for the start of classes Monday. The formal dedication will be Tuesday.

This year, 1,700 students, or 52 percent, are living on campus, the largest number in the school's history. In 2000, 37 percent lived on campus. A total of 190 students moved into the new apartment-style residence hall, Peter Salem Hall.

The university welcomed 800 freshmen last Thursday. Last year's freshman class totaled 900, the largest class in the college's history. The number of applications was higher this year, but fewer new students were admitted because the school's retention rate increased. A total of 82 percent of last year's freshmen returned for their sophomore year. Last year, the retention rate was 75 percent, which has been the average.

With more students returning, a slight housing crunch was created, despite the opening of the new dorm. So, for the second year in a row, some students are living in a nearby Holiday Inn. This year, 144 students are living in the motel, and most of them specifically asked to live there.

The student motel rooms are separated by locked doors from rooms rented to guests, and shuttles run every day to the campus. The students have university resident assistants and activities, just like students in regular dorms, a spokesman said.

The food court in Nicholson Center has undergone major renovations, including the addition of 100 seats. Parkhurst Dining, the university's food service provider, has added Freshens smoothies, frozen yogurt and a made-to-order crepes bar.

Total enrollment at the university is 5,000, including 1,200 graduate students.

Penn State Beaver

Classes started Aug. 22 at the campus in Center. Enrollment is expected to be the same as last year -- about 900 students -- but official figures won't be available until October.

A push by administrators to increase diversity resulted in the enrollment of four students from Puerto Rico and one each from China, Egypt, Mexico and Turkey. The campus also has full-time and adjunct faculty from the Bahamas, China, India, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The first phase of the Wellness Center project was completed in time for the start of classes, including renovations in the main gym. A new addition to the gym, which will include new equipment and exercise rooms, is expected to be completed during the spring semester.

The Brodhead Bistro dining facility now has Starbucks coffee, tea and other refreshments.

A Green Team of students, faculty and staff is working to make the campus more environmentally friendly. The Brodhead Bistro has eliminated paper and plastic plates and utensils. Hydration stations have been installed throughout the campus so that water bottles can be refilled and reused.

As the fall semester gets under way, the campus had raised $1.95 million of a $3 million campaign to fund scholarships, academics, research and travel opportunities.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-722-0087.


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