Penn State Board Meeting: September 2018 Buying a Dormitory – What did We Learn?

At the September Finance Committee meeting, the Penn State Trustees unanimously approved the spending of $21,000,000 to buy a Dormitory Building at the Harrisburg Campus.
This purchase was of a privately-built, privately-owned building, currently used as rental housing – that PSU was buying from the existing Real Estate Development company.

Interesting?  Somewhat….

But that is not the “illuminating” aspect to this transaction.

No, THIS was the illuminating part of the transaction:

zzz psu housing

This overhead slide was presented to the Trustees at the meeting (sorry for the poor resolution – it was only shown to the public very briefly…. but was part of the package of data provided to the Trustees earlier in the week).

The slide contained a comparison of the costs of the Harrisburg Dormitory (Titled as “Nittany Village” – on the far left of the slide), vs the costs of recent Dormitory projects constructed by PSU, under the control of Mark Dambly (Those projects, from left to right, being “Abington”, “Brandywine”, and “Erie”… the three most recent projects)

The slide quantifies the TOTAL COST / SQUARE FOOTAGE / # BEDS / COST PER BED / and COST PER SQFT for each project.

What is “illuminating” about the information?

Take a closer look:



Relative to the costs of the building purchased from a private Real Estate company ($216 per square foot, which is consistent to costs within the industry), the costs Penn State incurred to build the Dambly Dorms was from 67% to 117% HIGHER.

This, even though in the Harrisburg Dorm purchase, PSU was ALSO buying the land (which figured into the cost of $216 per sq ft), and in the Dambly Dorms, the land was “free” (land that PSU already owned, and that was NOT figured into the costs).

On those three Dambly Dorm projects alone (Abington, Brandywine, and Erie), if the costs were equal to the normal costs of Private Developers (who were NOT working for Dambly/Penn State), Penn State would have saved well over $50,000,000.

$50,000,000 that has now vanished into the ether – that will now have to be extracted from Penn State students and their families.

And the proof was staring the Penn State Trustees in the face.

We have discussed the corrupt PSU Capital Spending process…. led by Ex-Con Mark Dambly….. before:

No one was willing to perform their fiduciary duty then – to protect the resources and capital of Penn State – as the Penn State treasury was being looted for the Dambly Dorms.

And now, even with the magnitude of that corruption, waste, and graft staring at them in black-and-white, it appears that the fiduciary failure only intensifies.









Nittany Village (Harrisburg)

$5,050 per semester. 4 single bedrooms, kitchen, living, 2 bathrooms

Fall 2020 – Spring 2021 original | PSU Finance & Business

Lions Gate (PSU Abington)

$5,050 per semester. 2 double bedrooms, kitchen, living, community bathrooms

Residence Halls – Lions Gate at Penn State Abington | Penn State Abington (

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