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 in March 2016 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (rev'd 11-2016)Enrollment
A: Undergraduate enrollment has increased in recent years due to dramatic growth in engineering majors (enrollment has doubled in the past few years) and business administration (25% growth over the same time period). Undergraduate enrollment for fall 2016 exceeded the University’s budget goal by over 60 full time students.
A: The fully-accredited engineering programs offered at Wilkes continues to grow with steady interest expressed by students in the majors offered within that program. The University is currently in the planning stages for 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 “maker space” for student projects. A 4+1 program in bioengineering offers undergraduates the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in five years.
Student demand also remains strong in health care fields. The recently endowed Passan School of Nursing is currently exploring opportunities with regional healthcare providers to increase the number of clinical placements that allow the University to take better advantage of strong student demand for these academic programs. In addition, curricular changes will enable more students to enroll by revising clinical placements. The Passan School of Nursing has launched an online RN to BSN degree completion program to attract a national student audience. The program currently has 36 students enrolled with cohorts of approximately 12-15 anticipated to start every 8 weeks.
Wilkes faculty have approved a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, and welcomed the first students in fall 2015, the first fully-recruited class. The neuroscience program recently held the grand opening of a NeuroTraining and Research Center, which is unique to the region. This center is attracting students to the program as well as providing additional research opportunities for faculty and students. The NeuroTraining and Research Center also provides a needed service to the University community. In addition, a geology major, with a focus on energy, highly relevant to the region but critical beyond this area, was approved by the faculty and will launch in fall 2017.
Wilkes has committed to an expansion of its undergraduate offerings through the launching of a University Honors Program in FY15. The first class of 30 honors students were selected out of a pool of 300 applicants and were welcomed to campus in fall 2015. The second honors class grew to 37 students. With newly-renovated living and learning space on campus, the program will expand to 50 new students in fall 2017. Retention has been strong with this group, and applications for the next honors cohort is also strong.
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 class schedule was adjusted to begin the last week of December and run for three weeks. The intersession courses are hybrid or on-line. The expanded time frame and the on-line/hybrid format allows for more courses to be offered and students to remain home for winter break. This approach has proven fruitful: 15 classes were offered with 143 students being served in 2016 compared with 3 classes and 28 students in 2015. An even more robust intersession 2016/17 is planned with a focus on recruiting students from other institutions and expanding the quantity and variety of offerings.
Expansion of athletic and co-curricular programs are expected to enhance undergraduate student demand and enrollment at the University. Wilkes recently added NCAA Division III men’s volleyball. Last year women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming and men’s lacrosse were all added. 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. Both men’s and women’s ice-hockey, in collaboration with the local Wilkes Barre Penguin franchise, will be added over the next two years.
A: Final undergraduate enrollment for fall 2016 was 2,561 (2,387 FTE), an increase over fall 2015 of 140 (66 FTE). Final graduate enrollment for Fall 2016 was 2,707 (1,452 FTE), an increase over Fall 2015 of 360 (227 FTE). Final professional enrollment (Pharmacy) for fall 2016 was 284 (stable from year-to-year).
While it is too early to offer projections on undergraduate and graduate enrollment for next year, some related information is available. First, a new Vice President for Enrollment Services, with significant experience in both graduate and undergraduate enrollment joined Wilkes this fall. Interest in undergraduate programs from prospective first-year students remains strong. The University is optimistic about graduate enrollment for next year, especially because of the increase this year in graduate education and the addition of new graduate programs (including the Nursing PhD and highly-in demand Family Nurse Practitioner program referred to below).
A: We are seeing a slight increase in graduate revenue, after a leveling off of decline. The primary driver in the recent past was the decline in enrollment in graduate teacher education degree programs related to a dramatic reduction in funding available from Pennsylvania school districts for K-12 teachers who are early in their careers. Thus, professional development support for teachers to pursue additional degrees and earn pay raises were largely curtailed. The decline in funding resulted from a reduction in funding for K-12 education made at the state level during the first year of Gov. Tom Corbett’s recently completed four-year term as Governor of Pennsylvania. The School of Education, under the leadership of a strong new dean, has taken a strategic look at program offerings and is focusing new program development on programs that are needed by teachers including a new STEM Endorsement. In addition, the dean is instituting a strong persistence and retention initiative aligned with the University’s retention initiative.
A: 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 of Nursing will be expanding in related areas. In August of 2015, the Nursing Informatics M.S. was launched, and the faculty approved the M.S. in Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) this fall, which will launch in fiscal year 2017. The FNP is a high-demand degree as these professionals are serving as primary care providers for many individuals in the healthcare system. A milestone was reached in early November, 2016 when the faculty approved the University’s first PhD in Nursing, as well as “bridge programs” from the existing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to the PhD, and from the PhD to the DNP. These programs are designed to meet a significant national shortage in faculty with Nursing PhDs in higher education. The hybrid format will be conducive to students across the country.
The Doctorate in Education program offered by the School of Education is also showing strong student demand, both domestically and internationally. In addition, the Wilkes Creative Writing Program (M.A. and M.F.A. degrees) remains one of the top-ranked and popular programs in the country (and student demand will be further enhanced with the addition of two concentrations in publishing and documentary filmmaking).
In the Sidhu School of Business, under the leadership of a strong new dean with national and international experience, the faculty approved a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Leadership and Management that will launch in FY17. This program includes strong experiential learning through partnerships with the local and regional hospitality industry and current University partners. Across colleges/schools, the College of Science and Engineering and the Sidhu School of Business are jointly considering the development of an aviation management program to address a major national and international pilot and aviation management shortage. The University is studying further enhancement in its MBA program through the creation of a concentration in family business.
A. 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. In the past year the online nursing programs have grown to over 600 students in 25 states. 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 and, despite changes in enrollment in Graduate Teacher Education in recent years (explained above), this online option has served to stabilize enrollment in these programs. The School of Education has used low-residency hybrid formats (both online instruction and short periods of on-campus instruction by cohort) to expand enrollments in the Ed.D. program to serve international student audiences. A cohort of Ed.D. students from Turkey started the program in fall 2015 and a cohort in Oman is moving toward completion with retention at 100%. New cohorts are being explored in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Finally, the success of the Wilkes graduate Creative Writing Program is due in part to its delivery in a low residency format both the main campus and the Arizona site. This program is also offering a “weekender” version for local and regional students whose schedules do not permit prolonged periods away from home.
Under the leadership of a strong new Dean of Education and experienced Executive Director of International Engagement, Wilkes recently launched its Latin America & Caribbean Initiative through its work with government and education officials from the country of Panama intended to develop programs to meet educational needs in Panama. Already over-performing projections, Wilkes has welcomed three cohorts of teachers or pre-service teachers, and will welcome the fourth cohort in January 2017. 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. The University will be hosting the country’s first pilot program in Math Education in June or August 2017 and, based on recent assessments, are expected to continue to receive MEDUCA cohorts. In August 2016, Wilkes University President Leahy signed agreements with the largest funding agency in Panama, SENACYT, which will enable Wilkes to bring matriculating students to campus for five years (one year intensive English and four years of undergraduate study) and for later graduate work. In January, the University will begin an intensive English program for staff members working in the diplomatic corps, fully-funded by Panama’s Ministry of State (MIRE). Other potential opportunities include professional development for health care workers through the nursing and pharmacy programs and police/public safety, and executive low-residency programs for diplomats through the political science program. Faculty and student exchange programs are also being considered.
A: 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. 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.
A: The University expects to complete the current fiscal year with a modest operating surplus. The magnitude of the surplus from operations will not be predictable until late in the fiscal year, but current projections indicate that this year (fiscal 2017) will be more like fiscal 2016 and 2015 ($1.7 million and $1 million surpluses, respectively), as distinguished from the previous two years ($4.7 million surplus in fiscal 2014, following a $4.5 million operating surplus in fiscal 2013). In part, this is due to demographic shifts in the Northeast affecting all institutions of higher education. In addition, long term strategic investments made by the University will affect operations this year, but are expected to produce financial benefits in future years.
A: The University currently offers undergraduate and graduate courses in business administration at a site in Mesa, AZ. In addition, the site provides students with access to the University graduate program in creative writing and work is now underway on offering EdD cohorts at the site. To aid in the recruitment of undergraduate students in Mesa, President Leahy signed an enhanced relationship agreement in spring 2016 with the Chancellor of the Maricopa Community College System, one of the largest systems in the country. For the first time, in fall 2016 Wilkes welcomed concurrent-enrollment students at the Center in Mesa, who are completing two years at the community college and two years at Wilkes, but connected to Wilkes from the start through Advising and student activities, in order to maximize the likelihood of their completing with Wilkes. Wilkes has also established a “Semester in Mesa” program. About 15 business, and education students are spending their semester taking classes, completing internships or student teaching at local school districts near campus. There are now plans to establish a “Semester of Innovation” in Mesa where students will spend time learning about the innovation culture and visiting a variety of businesses and industries in greater Phoenix (sixth largest city in the country), that are not available in the northeast.
A: 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 being implemented) 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). In addition, the University is now preparing new, state-of-the-art spaces for its Engineering Program, Department of Communications and 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.
A: The University is currently in the silent phase of a $50 Million Comprehensive Campaign that is part of its current Strategic.
A: 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 September, 2015 work was completed on a major renovation of a residential building on campus previously known as Barre Hall (it has since been dedicated Francis J. Michelini Hall, after the University's second president). This building was used as a student residence hall in the early 2000s but in recent years was unused and fell into disrepair. When work was completed, the renovated Michelini Hall was placed in service as the residence for over 30 students who entered Wilkes in its inaugural class of honors students. The renovation project was financed and managed by a third-party developer that received a long-term ground lease interest in the property and entered into a master lease with the University over the same term. This arrangement allowed the University to move ahead with necessary renovations of a building that was in danger of further deterioration. The master lease will be capitalized at a value of $3,388,921 and will be reflected on the University's balance sheet at the end of the current fiscal year, May 31, 2016.
In 2012, the University issued bonds in connection with the financing of its new Cohen Science Center, dedicated in October, 2012. The Series B 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 November 1, 2016 was $4,283,932. No further draws are needed or permitted. The Series B 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 2015, the University made a $2 million principal payment in partial satisfaction of this debt, using proceeds from the University's recently-completed capital campaign. Another payment of $1 million was made in January, 2016.
In May, 2016 the University advance-refunded a portion of its Series 2007 bonds through the issuance by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Hospital & Education Association of $29,770,000 of University Revenue Bonds Series 2016A. The proceeds of the bond issue were loaned to the University by the Authority under the terms of a loan agreement between the parties. The University used the proceeds to advance refund a portion of its Series 2007 bonds. The Series 2016A bonds bear interest at rates ranging from 3% to 5% and, beginning in 2017, require principle payments ranging from $315,000 to $2,515,000. These bonds have a final maturity date of 2037. The remaining Series 2007 bonds bear interest at a rate of 5% and mature in 2037. Current plans call for the University to refund the remaining Series 2007 bonds within the 90 day period ending on the first call date for those bonds: March 1, 2017.
Last Update: 11/17/2016
Next Update: 3/2017