A symbolic signing ceremony was held Feb. 25 on the campus of Wilson College to establish an education/training partnership between Letterkenny Army Depot, Pa., and Wilson College.

Col. Steven A. Shapiro, Letterkenny Army Depot commander, and Dr. Lorna Duphiney Edmundson, president of Wilson College, signed a Memorandum of Agreement to establish the agreement which will serve Letterkenny Army Depot employees, contractors and tenants.

"Over the past decade, Letterkenny had a reputation for downsizing. Those days are over. The depot is growing and with that growth comes the need for more training opportunities to refresh and renew our workforce with the tools required by today's technology," said Shapiro.

Wilson was one of four colleges, which included Shippensburg University, Penn State Mont Alto and Harrisburg Area Community College, to meet with Letterkenny officials Nov. 8 to discuss options for Letterkenny's educational facility. Wilson submitted a proposal to manage the operation later that month. The agreement was finalized Jan. 22.

Pennsylvania Senator Terry Punt obtained a $400,000 grant for the partnership which was recently accepted by the Secretary of the Army.

The grant will be used to create a state-of-the-art education facility in building 102. The renovation should be completed by spring 2008.

"This is an excellent example of Wilson College, our community and Letterkenny Army Depot working together for the educational benefit of all," said L. Michael Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corporation.

FCADC will oversee the project.

When complete, the facility will include an administrative office, room to serve 25 students and high tech information sharing capabilities.

"Wilson College will chair a consortium of educational institutions to meet the needs of Letterkenny, our tenants, our contractors and our community to build the workforce of the future," said Dr. John R. Gray, Letterkenny deputy commander. "Wilson will work with the depot to identify training needs and coordinate with other educational institutions to manage an effective program that delivers the correct training to our students."

Under the agreement, Wilson College will be responsible for staffing the Letterkenny educational facility and scheduling classes, which will be held during late afternoon and evening hours on week days, and possibly on weekends depending on demand, according to Wilson officials.

"Wilson College and Letterkenny share a passion for excellence," said Wilson Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Hendrickson. "Wilson College has a talented faculty who hold students to high standards. Letterkenny officials seek to develop employees who perform at optimal levels under heightened levels of competitiveness. I am impressed that Letterkenny's progressive leadership recognizes the importance not only of strengthening employees' technical skills, but also of enhancing the skills and habits of mind associated with the liberal arts, such as critical thinking and communication skills."

Classes will be open to depot employees and other students as space allows. Letterkenny employees are being surveyed to determine what classes they would like to take. The results will drive what is offered initially, but math and management skills are expected to be among the most requested subjects.

"Wilson could not be more pleased to join with Letterkenny in this partnership," Edmundson said. "Together we bring great energy, strength and talent to the service of Letterkenny employees and adults in our region. Not only will these students have the convenience of enrolling in classes at their worksite, but they will also have the benefit of Wilson's long years of experience and reputation for high quality in educating adults in the region."

In addition to depot employees, Wilson officials expect the facility to be especially attractive to employees of the Cumberland Valley Business Park because of its close proximity.

"It is coincidental that this opportunity presented itself in this year when we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of our program for adult men and women," said Wilson Vice President for Enrollment Mary Ann Naso. "Over the past quarter century, we have a strong history of enrolling Letterkenny personnel who have then earned degrees from Wilson College. We will certainly work very closely with each of their current men and women who hope to achieve the same thing."

Classes will follow Wilson's regular academic schedule, which operates with fall and spring semesters, as well as two summer sessions. If renovations to building 102 remain on schedule, classes should begin with the start of Wilson's Summer I session May 12.

Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a liberal arts college dedicated to the education of women. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Chambersburg, Pa., Wilson offers bachelor's degrees in 24 areas and a master's degree in teaching.