Penn State Mont Alto chancellor is featured speaker at Waynesboro Rotary Club

Francis K. Achampong speaks to Waynesboro Rotary.

Chancellor Francis K. Achampong laughs as he updates members of the Waynesboro Rotary about recent initiatives at Penn State Mont Alto.

Credit: Debra Collins

MONT ALTO, Pa. — Penn State Mont Alto Chancellor Francis K. Achampong was the featured speaker during a Rotary Club meeting at the Waynesboro Country Club on March 29.

He began with the campus’ history from its founding as a forest academy in 1903 to its becoming a full-fledged Penn State campus in 1963. He described the students who attend the campus and noted the campus’ economic impact in the region. It spends more than $2.5 million, in addition to nearly $8.4 million in student spending, and about $8 million from out-of-state visitors to the campus, according to a 2008 study.

Achampong highlighted several initiatives at the Mont Alto campus, including a new summer program, PaSSS, which will allow selected students to complete a semester of college at half price; the launch of a Veterans’ Mentoring Program; efforts to raise international awareness through a newly established International and Intercultural Programs Office (IIPO); recent student and faculty engagement within the community; and the possibility of a establishing a space in downtown Waynesboro to help bring student and faculty research to market.

This spring, 30 students are being selected to participate in PaSSS, a program that will award each participant a $1,500 scholarship to take up to six credits of general education courses during the summer. They will also receive a $400 book stipend and be offered a 20-hour-a-week job on campus or with a local nonprofit for a total of 100 hours at $10 an hour over a five-week period.

“This program demonstrates Penn State’s commitment to making a Penn State education accessible and affordable to students by reducing the cost and time to their degrees,” said Achampong.

“Penn State Mont Alto continues to live its mission of being a land-grant institution through community engagement — something Rotary really values,” said Achampong. “Many people on campus serve on a myriad of boards and our students are also engaged.”

He noted several recent projects including Mont Alto’s THON group — Penn State’s IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon — raising $101,948 to fight pediatric cancer in 2015, information sciences and technology and nursing students developing a website for a local nonprofit that included in-home patient care guidelines, and engineering students developing bingo boards for Quincy Village residents to improve manual dexterity.

Achampong is hopeful that the campus will be granted the funding for Innovation Crossroads — a project that will bring student and faculty research to market in collaboration with local businesses.

“Penn State does about $800 million in research every year,” said Achampong, “and President Barron has put $30 million aside in an initiative called Invent Penn State that includes seed grants for Commonwealth campuses to promote entrepreneurship.”

Achampong has already secured a space in the Landis Complex in downtown Waynesboro thanks to D.L. George & Sons and, if the grant is approved, will look for business sponsorships to provide a stream of income long term.

The campus has also created a new annual publication, "Penn State Mont Alto Today," which provides more stories about the campus.

“We don’t want to be a hidden gem,” said Achampong. “Now you have a better idea about the good things that are happening at Penn State Mont Alto.”