Disclosure Policy & Frequently Asked Questions
Wilkes University provides information to investors in the form of both mandatory periodic compliance update reports (posted on EMMA – the Electronic Municipal Market Access website maintained by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board: www.emma.msrb.org) and voluntary disclosure of supplementary information of interest to investors, at times offered in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (found below).
Information may also be obtained by reviewing the University’s most recent rating report issued by Standard & Poor’s, available for download by clicking here, the University’s current Debt Policy, available for download by clicking here, and the Continuing Disclosure Policy, available for download by clicking here. The University’s current Fact Book is also available for review.
Questions not addressed through information obtained from EMMA or in the FAQs on this site may be posed to the University by email sent to this address: email@example.com. The University makes every effort to respond to inquiries subject to the application of its policies on continuing disclosure. Responses will be included in additional FAQs posted on this website.
Frequently Asked Questions (revised: 9-2018)
Undergraduate enrollment has increased in recent years due to dramatic growth in engineering majors, especially mechanical engineering (238 to 263 majors from fall 2016 to 2017) and environmental engineering (e.g., increase from 86 in 2016 to 116 in fall 2017).
The fully ABET-accredited engineering programs offered at Wilkes continues to grow with steady interest expressed by students in the majors offered within that program. In August, the University completed construction of three new state-of-the-art engineering labs to support related teaching and faculty and faculty-student research. Those labs will provide support for nanotechnology, additive manufacturing and bioengineering, and include an Innovation Center, for which a naming gift was secured. A relatively new 4+1 program in bioengineering offers undergraduates the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in five years, as does a masters degree in engineering management to add an attractive credential to any of the undergraduate engineering programs. These career paths help make our undergraduate programs more attractive to students and their families.
Student demand also remains strong in health care fields. The Passan School of Nursing has significantly raised its NCLEX pass rates to 90%, and that has garnered attention for all programs, including the undergraduate programs. The School has been successful in their initiative to partner with upwards of a dozen two-year institutions and hospital diploma programs for an innovative concurrent enrollment for nurses to earn both the RN and BSN at the same time, and take advantage of funding support from their employers. Because the BSN is in an on-line format, this program has the possibility of reaching a national audience
Wilkes faculty have approved a number of programs in the last four years, in areas of high demand that have further expanded the breadth of course offerings at Wilkes. The bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, with a distinctive new NeuroTraining and Research Center opened in 2015. The Sidhu School of Business and Leadership launched programs in Hospitality Leadership and Sports Management in 2016. In addition, a geology major, with a focus on energy, highly relevant to the region, was launched in fall 2017.
Wilkes Honors Program continues to grow beyond projections since its launch in 2015, recruiting talented students for programs across our six schools and colleges. The Honors Program has grown from 27 first-year students in 2015 to 91 in fall 2018, with a significant increase in academic preparation for this group. Wilkes now has 204 Honors Students to start the fall 2018 semester. A successful national search yielded a new Director of the Program who was the former dean of the Saybrook College of Yale University and Associate Director of the Honors Program at Villanova University. Retention has been strong with this group.
To better serve the needs of the current student body, a concerted effort has been made to expand summer course and winter session (intersession) offerings. Summer class offerings and sizes are increasing based on the interest and needs of students as determined by a student survey. The intersession classes, held largely on-line or hybrid between the fall and spring semester, provide the opportunity for students to take courses after returning home and also are attractive to visiting students who want to get ahead or catch up. Enrollment has grown each year. This summer, 647 undergraduate students were enrolled in summer classes, and 2120 graduate students were enrolled, brining revenue to the University.
Expansion of athletic and co-curricular programs has enhanced undergraduate student demand and enrollment at the University. Over the past four years, Wilkes added NCAA Division III men’s volleyball, women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming and men’s lacrosse. In addition, the University marching band program, the only collegiate marching band in Northeastern Pennsylvania, continues to attract students. These programs will appeal to student applicants in both existing and new markets. Men’s and women’s ice hockey, in partnership with the local Penguins franchise, were recently launched, and hold promise to recruit students from a wider geographic region, including internationally.
A $100 Million campus enhancement plan is designed to ensure that Wilkes University is highly-competitive in terms of academic facilities, residence halls, the attractiveness of the campus and destination for members of the Wilkes community and visitors alike. The Karembelas Media Center and the relocated and expanded Sordoni Art Gallery, which opened their doors in fall 2017, provide opportunities for students studying Communications and media majors to learn in a state-of-the-art TV and radio station, and the Gallery hosted over 3000 visitors at its first opening in fall 2017, and has mounted four to five shows per year since then. Two campus gateways have been added, parking has been expanded, and our historic mansions have received attention.
Wilkes’ innovative faculty approved seven undergraduate majors, which launched in August, 2018. The Sidhu School of Business and leadership brought Finance, Financial Investments, and Supply Chain Management on to their offerings as majors. The School of education developed Early Childhood Education, to address the shortage of options for early childhood learning center staff. The College of Science and Engineering developed two majors utilizing environmental science (with earth science and biology as foci). The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science added Technical Theater to their slate of offerings, to provide performing arts with a major focused on the important “backstage” work of the theater. While the University is optimistic that each will help attract incremental students, care is taken in the development and approval process to insure that each has a business plan and conservative projections in the next three years.
The Passan School is currently working to complete a partnership with a regional healthcare provider to become a primary partner to increase the number of clinical placements that allow the University to take better advantage of strong student demand for these academic programs, as well as create linkages for faculty research and enable joint hiring for challenging search situations. In addition, curricular changes made to the clinical placement policy by the Passan School faculty have enabled more students to enroll.
With retention and graduation of primary importance to the President’s Cabinet in FY19, the President has appointed the Associate Provost for Academics to the position of Retention Coordinator. Reporting directly to the President, the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Provost, he will create an action plan and determine resources needed for this vital effort. The Cabinet retreat focused on this topic, and updates will ensure that the senior team is focused on fully understanding where opportunities exist to increase retention, and strategies are implemented, assessed and revised moving forward.
The Latin-American and Caribbean Initiative has brought the first fully-matriculated and fully-supported students to Wilkes’ undergraduate programs. Between fall 2018 and spring 2019, 14 undergraduate students will begin their four year degrees in various programs of the University.
In the fall of 2017, Wilkes embarked on a new international initiative to enhance our international recruitment efforts. For a modest investment, Wilkes engaged a highly-respected consultant to assist in the develop an international recruitment strategy, and assemble a cadre of highly-professional and accomplished pre-screened recruiters, prioritizing China, Vietnam, India, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Canada, and Panama, and international Students based in the USA, and students abroad from International Schools. In addition, through our consultant’s network, we were able to recruit a highly-accomplished Director of International Recruitment who joined Wilkes in September. While the impact from these efforts will be realized largely starting in fall 2019, we are taking advantage of the opportunity to recruit our first undergraduates to start in January 2019. This strategy also includes building stronger relationships with the embassies in the countries from which we are already drawing students, as well as new countries we have identified as recruitment targets. This initiative spans undergraduate and graduate populations, as well as transfer students.
While we do not have final census enrollments for fall, we saw a growth in the first year class from last year, up from 615 to 660 this fall. The 2016 and 2017 entering classes were the strongest academically at Wilkes, which bodes well for retention. Efforts are yielding an academically stronger class, with the fall 2018 class particularly better-prepared than in the past. This includes an average SAT increase of 45 points from fall 2017 to fall 2018, a growth in Honors first-year students both in number and in academic achievement. We also reduced the number of students in the lowers quintile of preparedness, accompanied by a 25-point increase in SAT. These gains were accompanied by continued commitment to diversity (27% self-reporting as non-white), 50% first generation, 50% Pennsylvania PHEAA-grant eligibility, and 38% Pell eligibility. A new strategic approach resulted in transfer students who are better prepared (37% with transferred GPA of 3.5 or better compared to 22% in 2017), and more likely to come from out of state (24% out of PA in fall 2018, compared to 15% in fall 2017).
Final overall undergraduate enrollment for fall 2017 was stable with fall 2016 (2,491; 2332 FTE). Final graduate enrollment for 2017 was slightly up from 2016 (2769 compared to 2,707, 1462 versus 1452 FTE). Final professional enrollment (Pharmacy) for fall 2017 was stable, 285 compared to 284 in 2016 (all full-time).
Currently, the academic program offered at Wilkes that reflects the strongest student demand is offered by the Passan School of Nursing. The Nurse Practitioner degree (M.S.) in Psychiatric Mental Health, which is one of the highest areas of national demand in healthcare. In recent years, this program has been fully subscribed. The Passan School doubled enrollment this fall, increasing to nearly 80 incoming students. Other Nurse Practitioner programs are also doing well. This increased the number of students who can matriculate into this program to help increase our contribution to the nursing shortage and grow revenue. The Family Nurse Practitioner Program launched in fall 2017 and has doubled to about 25 students this fall. The FNP is a high-demand degree as these professionals are serving as primary care providers for many individuals in the healthcare system. In addition, the Passan School Faculty have developed a program in Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, aimed at serving a growing population, will launch during this academic year,
Wilkes University’s PhD program in Nursing was launched in fall 2017. This is the first Ph.D. offered at Wilkes. In addition, two bridge programs – one from the DNP practice doctorate to the PhD, and one to the DNP from the PhD were both added to the Passan offerings. With a third cohort in fall 2018, the total number of PhD students is 44. These programs are designed to meet a significant national shortage in faculty with Nursing PhDs in higher education. The hybrid format is conducive to students, and the national reach enables the Passan School to recruit highly-qualified faculty to teach.
The Doctorate in Education program offered by the School of Education is also showing strong student demand, both domestically and internationally. This low residency program has grown to nearly 200 students living in a dozen countries, with 60 new students for fall 2018. The strategic plan for this program includes several international education hubs, including Dubai (Rochester Institute of Technology campus), Panama City and Wilkes-Barre. Planning is underway for a Far East hub in Singapore. In addition, the boutique Maslow Graduate Program in Creative Writing Program (M.A. and M.F.A. degrees) remains one of the top-ranked and popular programs in the country, and received a named donor in 2017. With low-residency week-long and Weekender formats, we expect that student demand will be further enhanced with the addition of two concentrations in publishing and documentary filmmaking).
Wilkes University is a leader in the delivery of academic programs through the use of alternative modalities (specifically, online and hybrid formats). All graduate nursing programs are now offered online and the University is committed to marketing many of these programs on a national basis. This effort also yielded innovation in the undergraduate programs, including Wilkes’ first fully on-line bachelor’s degree: the RN to BS program in nursing, which reaches a market of prospective students Wilkes otherwise would not reach. In addition, all Master’s level degree programs offered by the School of Education are offered online, responding to the changing needs of educators for programs to fit their lifestyles.
Under the leadership of a strong new Dean of Education and experienced Executive Director of International Engagement, Wilkes’ Latin America & Caribbean Initiative has expanded since its launch three years ago, bringing net revenue annually since the first year. Through its work with government and education officials from the country of Panama intended to develop programs to meet educational needs in Panama. Over-performing projection each year,Wilkes has welcomed nine cohorts of teachers or pre-service teachers, and will welcome the 10th cohort in January 2019. These teachers spend 8 or 16 weeks on campus in a professional development program of intensive English and teaching methodology. The programs are fully-funded through agreements with the Panamanian Department of Education’s “MEDUCA” program. Through an agreement signed in August 2016 by Wilkes University President Leahy with the largest funding agency in Panama, IFARHU, Wilkes has brought two groups of matriculating students to campus for five years (one year intensive English and four years of undergraduate study) and for later graduate work. This fall the University will begin its second of Intensive English program for staff members working in the diplomatic corps, fully-funded by Panama’s Ministry of State (MIRE). In addition, our first student and faculty exchanges in the area of environmental engineering were made, with the support of a 1000 Strong in the Americas grant from the US Department of State. Multiple other partnerships to bring students to campus from Panama are underway.
The University’s approach to its annual operating budget process uses conservative assumptions that provide some flexibility to absorb declines in revenue that follow from volatility and increasing competition in the market. In fiscal 2018, modest declines in undergraduate enrollment were offset by a rebound in graduate revenue largely driven by increased enrollment in graduate teacher education courses. In previous years, declines in graduate enrollment were more than offset by substantial increases in undergraduate enrollment. Even in years involving stable or declining enrollments in both undergraduate and graduate programs, the budget process offers the opportunity to modify spending and utilize contingency funds in a manner designed to ensure that the University produces an operating surplus from operations each year.
The University anticipates that its external audit, which will be complete by September 1, will confirm an operating surplus of approximately $1.5 million. The University has realized a surplus from operations (unrestricted) every year since 2011 despite challenges currently experienced by all colleges and universities in the Northeast.
The University is currently engaged in the implementation of a Campus Enhancement Plan completed in 2014 with the assistance of higher education architects and planners, Derck & Edson. That Plan calls for a variety of projects – some modest in size and expense, others more ambitious – that will offer opportunities for significant enhancement of the campus for the benefit of students and in support of academic and extra- and co-curricular programs. Examples of projects completed recently or that will receive attention in the next few years include a major renovation of space for the benefit of the Sidhu School of Business & Leadership (completed in Summer, 2014), a wayfinding project intended to redesign signage on campus (now complete) and improvement projects intended to enhance safety and security on campus and in areas immediately adjacent to campus (including streetscape improvements, new pathways, and the installation of additional lighting). Recently, the University completed construction of new, state-of-the-art spaces for its Engineering Program, Department of Communications, Campus Core and the Sordoni Art Gallery. These projects are being funded from the University’s capital budget and, in some cases, will benefit from public funding available through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Projects now in the planning stages include a renovation of instructional space maintained by the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and major enhancements to the University’s athletic complex.
The Gateway to the Future Campaign began its quite phase on June 1, 2014(FY2015) with the public launch scheduled for October 2018. The campaign end is scheduled forMay 31, 2020(FYend2020). The Gateway to the Future Campaign goal is $55 million of which $40 million has been secured in the form of cash, grants, public funds, pledges, deferred gifts and bequests. The campaign has three priorities including (1) numerous capital projects, (2)endowments for research and scholarship and (3) the annual fund.
Long Term Debt
The University has no plans to incur additional debt in the immediate future. The University's most recent developments are described in detail below:
In 2012, the University issued bonds in connection with the financing of its new Cohen Science Center, dedicated in October, 2012. The Series 2012B issue, held by a local financial institution, provided the University with the opportunity to draw only the funding needed as and when necessary to successfully complete construction on schedule. The total amount drawn by the University was $8,139,131 and the outstanding principal balance as of October 1, 2015 was $5,637,808. No further draws are needed or permitted. The Series 2012B loan will mature on or before April 2037, but the University has committed to fully satisfying its repayment obligation no later than the end of its 2020 fiscal year. During fiscal 2018, the University made a $1.2 million principal prepayment in partial satisfaction of this debt, using proceeds from the University's recently-completed capital campaign. The balance due as of August, 2018 was $1,435,161.
Last Update: 11/1/2018
Next Update: 8/2019