By Denise Allabaugh, Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice
WILKES-BARRE — Watching her 18-year-old son move into Evans Hall at Wilkes University on Friday was bittersweet for Tammy Platukis. “I’ve been having a lot of emotions,” she said. “I’m happy he chose Wilkes. I’ve been comfortable with everything so far, the whole process. It’s not too far from home.” Her son, 18-year-old Seth Platukis of Weston, near Hazleton, is among the first- year students at Wilkes University and Luzerne County’s other colleges who moved into residence halls last week. Wilkes University students will start classes on Monday as will students from King’s College and Misericordia University. Platukis will major in biology in secondary education. “I’m a little nervous, but I think I’m ready,” he said. Wilkes University welcomed more than 650 freshmen, which Provost and Senior Vice President Anne Skleder believes will be the largest class in history. An official count will be taken in a few weeks. The university has 1,094 students in residence halls and that includes 475 first-year students, according to spokeswoman Vicki Mayk. Wilkes University students from football, soccer, cross country and volleyball teams, ROTC, the Blue Army student organization and resident assistants helped lug in suitcases, boxes and appliances for the incoming freshmen, which included 18-year-old Elizabeth Dyminski. She came to Wilkes University from Sussex County, New Jersey, and plans to study nursing. Watching her move in, her mother, Elke Dyminski, said she was excited but added, “I’m going to miss her like crazy.”
Wilkes invests in improvements.
In preparation for the new academic year, Wilkes University invested more than $4 million in campus improvements during the summer. Additions and renovations made to the campus include improvements to classrooms, upgrades to athletic facilities and renovations to residence halls.Projects also started this summer at Stark Learning Center and 141 S. Main St. that will total more than $10 million when completed. Wilkes University plans to open a new communications center in the former Bartikowsky Jewelers building at 141 S. Main St. The Clayton and Theresa Karambelas Media Center will be the future home of the communication studies department, including WCLH Radio, The Beacon student newspaper, television studios, student-run public relations agency Zebra Communications, and the speech and debate team. The 17,726-square-foot facility also will house the Sordoni Art Gallery and will include classroom space and faculty offices as well as video and audio editing spaces. The new art gallery will feature exhibition space that doubles what exists in the current gallery. “Strengthening our campus infrastructure is one of our strategic initiatives, and the work being done this summer and into the fall is part of an ongoing effort to create a traditional residential campus in our urban environment of Wilkes-Barre,” said Wilkes University Patrick Leahy. About $800,000 is being invested in improvements to classrooms. Forty-five classrooms are part of the project and new classrooms are being created in the Stark Learning Center and in the Marts Center. More than 500 new chairs, specially designed for interactive learning, are being added to classrooms for student seating. The chairs are on wheels, so that classrooms can be reconfigured from lecture-style seating to small groupings. Other classroom improvements include painting, new floors, carpeting, furnishings and adding smart classroom technology, according to Wilkes University.
Other projects include the addition of new bleachers and restrooms at the Schmidt Stadium and upgrading restrooms at the Ralston Athletic Complex at a combined cost of nearly $1 million and more than $500,000 in renovations at Waller Hall, a student residence at 36-40 W. River St. Waller Hall, a historic mansion which houses about 30 first-year students, was built in 1925 by Julius Long Stern and his father Harry F. Stern, owners of Wilkes-Barre’s Isaac Long Store. Wilkes University also will soon begin the first phase of the “signage and wayfinding project,” aimed at making the campus easier to navigate. The first phase of the three-phase project beginning this summer will cost $100,000, with total cost through summer 2017 expected to total more than $300,000.
King’s welcomes most first-year students in history.
King’s College welcomed 570 new first-year students on Thursday, the largest number in history, according to spokesman John McAndrew. Adding in 70 transfer students, there are 640 students in the class. Students came from 18 states and four countries: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Great Britain and Italy. “It’s the most geographically diverse class we’ve had,” McAndrew said. “Its our most accomplished incoming class when you take into account high school GPA, SAT and ACT scores.” First-year students participated in orientation and move-in day on Thursday. For the first time in the college’s history, the Class of 2020 participated in a procession down Lane’s Lane to the Scandlon Physical Education Center for a welcome from the Rev. John Ryan, King’s College president.
Students processed through lined-up faculty, staff and administration. The new tradition began at Monarch Court. After students learned more about the campus during day-long sessions and events and settled into residence halls, students, faculty and administrators became familiar with their community on Friday during the 17th annual “CitySERVE,” one of the Wyoming Valley’s largest one-day volunteer efforts. Groups worked on projects at 15 sites in the community, including initiatives for children, the homeless and those living in poverty, the elderly and people with special needs. This year, King’s College will begin a 10-year contract with a new food service vendor that will open a Chick-fil-A franchise on Public Square. Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services was chosen as the new provider for food service, conferences and events.
A highlight of the contract is the placement of a Chick-fil-A franchise in the King’s on the Square building on Public Square. The restaurant will be located in the space currently occupied by Zime restaurant. It is expected to open this fall. King’s will begin recruiting students this year for programs that will start next year in civil and mechanical engineering, McAndrew said. Additionally, King’s will add both men’s and women’s ice hockey programs for the 2017-18 school year. Jen Kindret was named the women’s ice hockey coach and Stephen Mallaro was named the men’s coach.