Campus Connection, Feb. 9, 2011

The Merciad has partnered with student newspapers at Gannon University (The Gannon Knight) and Penn State Behrend (The Beacon) during the 2010-11 school year.

Our goal is to bring you the most important news happening on local college campuses each week.


Behrend’s baby: Asher Brewer

By Toby Keller, news editor

Asher Behrend Brewer, a five-month-old boy from Harborcreek, bears the University’s namesake because it “would be appropriate to include something about Asher’s unusual birth in his name,” said his father, Nathan Brewer. The father delivered his wife’s son as she lay reclined in the passenger seat of their car, which was parked in the center median of the Bayfront Connector.

It occurred in front of campus some 20 minutes after midnight on New Year’s Eve. The couple selected the baby’s middle name in honor of the campus next to which he was born.

His wife, Kathy, already a mother of three, had been timing her contractions throughout the day. Seven minutes, down to five, then three. The progression lead the experienced couple to believe, perhaps, birth was near, but it wasn’t until 11:30 p.m. that “the contractions really got going” and they made provisions to get to the hospital and care for the children.

“People asked, ‘how did you do it, weren’t you scared?’” said Brewer, thinking back to the panicked moments before the couple left the house. “As I was grabbing a couple towels and Kathy’s bag to go, that’s when I felt the most nervous. I felt my knees shake and I was praying the Lord would slow things down, because it was moving a bit too fast!”

Still, they assembled a “go bag” and rushed out the door on the way to Saint Vincent Medical Center in Erie.

“We called my parents to come stay with our three sleeping children,” Brewer said. “As we left the driveway the midwife called us back and said she would meet us at Saint Vincent.  We came down the hill toward the entrance of the college on the Bayfront Connector and Kathy began to cry out, ‘The baby’s coming! The baby’s coming!’”

Brewer said that he called the midwife, but his call went to voicemail. He later found out this was because she was brushing her teeth at that very moment. Then, the timeline shortened dramatically. Under the traffic light directly across from Penn State Behrend, his wife’s water broke.

After some quick deliberation, Brewer parked the car in the center median. The roads were clear; the day’s sun had melted them clean before the night’s chill took hold. With the night sky above him and temperatures in the 20s, he got out and ran to the passenger side door. Asher was born then, into his hands.

“I laid the baby on Kathy and we wrapped him in a towel and I ran back around to get into the car and we continued on to the hospital until I called 911,” he said. “They advised me to pull over and wait for an ambulance.”

Parked in the ICE arena on McClelland, waiting for dispatched emergency personnel, Brewer performed “rescue breathing and compressions” on the newborn baby, under EMT instruction until they arrived. One EMT, who heard the call on a scanner and lives in Wesleyville according to Brewer’s account, arrived at their car a couple minutes before the ambulances. He said was a nursing student at Behrend.

While Brewer didn’t get the student’s name, he says it’s another interesting tie to Behrend that made the couple think of naming him after the school.

The Brewers were escorted to St. Vincent where they named their child Asher, the meaning of which can be found in the book of Genesis: happy, or blessing. The Behrend student came to the hospital shortly after to see how everyone was doing. Asher was in the NICU for four days, with no serious complications, but “mainly because he was born outside of the hospital.”

The Brewer’s blessing is doing wonderfully, according to his parents. Asher “sleeps, eats, sleeps, eats and goes through a ton of diapers,” according to his mother.

His siblings, Peyton, 6, Veronica, 4, and Quinn, 2, “love and help take care of him.”


By Abby Badach, editor-in-chief

Gannon University’s board of trustees will vote on the budget for fiscal year 2012 this Friday, which includes plans to increase tuition by 3.9 percent, increase faculty and staff compensation by 3 percent and extend meal plan equivalency hours.

The president’s staff announced the proposed numbers at a public meeting Thursday, which approximately 20 people attended.

Linda Wagner, vice president of finance and administration, noted that Gannon’s tuition increase has been lower than the national average for four-year, private institutions since fiscal year 2009-2010.

“You can see that in recent years, there has been a significant effort to keep tuition increase to a minimum,” she said.
Wagner added that a tuition increase will help to fund new projects to improve the university, like the construction of the new residence hall.

“If you look at any of our competition, they’ve all done new residence halls,” she said. “It’s the wave of the future.”

The 3.9 percent increase would raise tuition prices to $12,490 per semester for full-time undergraduate students in the business, humanities, education, social sciences and science programs and $13,245 per semester for full-time undergraduate students in the engineering, computer science and health professions.

Aleja Houston, a sophomore social work major, said she was frustrated to hear of Gannon’s proposed tuition increase because state schools offer less expensive rates.

“I feel like people need to go to college to be successful and all, but it shouldn’t be impossible for them to get there,” she said. “People shouldn’t be forced to take out loans and stuff just to cover school if they want to come.”

Sophomore nursing major Deon Dawkins agreed, calling the rate increase “a huge mistake.”

“It’s already $30,000 a year to come here,” he said. “Granted, Gannon does give a lot of money, but you do have to pay the loans back. A lot of people are attracted to the college because it is somewhat affordable now, though, so I don’t know why you would want to up the price.”

Other announcements from the budget meeting include a 3 percent hike in faculty and staff compensation, a number negotiated after the University Compensation Committee proposed a 4.7 percent increase to the budget planning committee.

The committee also announced no increase in health care costs, which Wagner credited in part to employee wellness programs like JumpStart.
The university’s energy budget will also remain the same, Wagner said, due to installation of energy-saving measures including LED lights, automatic shutoffs and low-flow toilets, showers and faucets.

The measures were recommended when Gannon underwent an energy audit in 2010.

Wagner added that the projected zero percent increase in utility bills is also because the university locked in electric rates at lower-than-anticipated figures.

Last year’s budget estimated a 17 percent increase in energy costs, in part because of the deregulation of electricity prices in 2010.

A proposed 5 percent increase in the board plan would cover a measure to extend the hours of operation for Doc’s Landing, as well as expand meal plan equivalency hours so students can redeem their three meals at any hour of the day.

Student input prompted the change, said Dean of Student Development Ward McCracken.

“We’re trying to tweak a lot of things,” he said at Thursday’s meeting. “It’s a really opportune time to make changes.”