CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Scholar Hotel Group is adding two more hotels to their roster: The Nittany Lion Inn and Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center.
The Penn State Board of Trustees approved a purchasing agreement and ground lease during their meeting on June 29.
“While both hotels have served the University community well for decades and hold a special place in Penn State history, after the in-depth evaluation to examine hotel operations, Penn State has made the determination that divesting from the hotel businesses will enable us to focus on our core missions that remain teaching, research and service,” Treasurer Sara Thorndike said in a statement.
The Scholar Hotel Group currently owns the Hyatt Place and Scholar Hotel both in downtown State College, in addition to a hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia and Syracuse, New York. The group was founded by Penn State Alumnus Gary Brandeis.
“Scholar Hotel Group is excited to work through the specifics with Penn State and is committed to providing the highest quality hospitality services and environments to the Penn State and local communities,” Brandeis said in a statement.
The university said this decision will enable investments that support “the continuous modernization needed for the hotels to remain viable; attract guests and conferences; and meet guest expectations, industry standards and competition in the local hospitality market.”
As part of the agreement, Penn State will still own the land.
Teamsters Local Union 8 represents essential service employees at Penn State. Their president, Jonathan Light, said this decision could impact about 80 of their members.
“We’re saddened and upset at the decision,” Light said. “We had a meeting this morning with the members and you could see it in their eyes, you know, what’s next? They’ve got bills to pay. They’ve got families to feed.”
Light said they are meeting with Penn State to talk about the impact.
“Hopefully they bring some meaningful dialogue, meaningful conversation, about retaining members, keeping them employed,” Light said. “We know they’re of value.”
In response, Penn State University shared, “While we are in the preliminary stages of this process, the University’s goal is to support our community in every way possible through this upcoming transition. While specific plans between Penn State and Scholar Hotel Group are not yet finalized, there will be a variety of employment opportunities for current hotel employees with the new operator or in other areas at Penn State.”