Company: Head of Cal U. center relieved of duties

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An official of an Iowa company that manages California University of Pennsylvania’s new convocation center said Thursday it has relieved the center’s executive director of his duties.


John Siehl, director of support services for VenuWorks, said Ben Bolander was removed from the position Wednesday.


“He was not meeting our expectations,” Siehl said Thursday, adding that Bolander was named to the position in March.


Since that time, Cal U. has seen growing debt because of campus construction projects, including the convocation center, built at a cost of $59 million.


The university also is facing a budget deficit of more than $4 million, coupled with a projected enrollment decline this term of 10 percent. The university’s financial problems, including those involving the convocation center, were included in the findings of a special campus audit that coincided with the May decision by the state System of Higher Education to fire former Cal U. president Angelo Armenti Jr.


Siehl said the decision to remove Bolander “was a response to our responsibility to book the facility.”


He said VenuWorks was beginning its search for a new executive director at the center.


Cal U. spokeswoman Christine Kindl said Thursday the university had no comment on Bolander’s dismissal.


“This is a personnel matter at a vendor company,” Kindl said.


During Wednesday’s meeting of Cal U.’s board of trustees, acting Cal U. President Geraldine Jones said the school continues to pare away the deficit, announcing the 2011-12 deficit has been reduced from $9.7 million to $1.1 million.


She had announced earlier the projected deficit for the 2012-13 academic year had fallen from $11.8 million to $4.2 million, but said Wednesday more cuts would be required during the current academic year.


She also said the university could lose as much as $7 million in revenue because of a projected 10 percent enrollment decrease.


Acting Provost Bruce Barnhart reported during Wednesday’s meeting the current enrollment estimate of 8,625 students is down 858 students, in advance of a final census to be taken on the 15th day of classes.


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