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Penn State Wilkes-Barre Kicks Off $8M Capital Campaign for New Academic Commons

Aerial photo of location for new Academic Commons
11/19/2004 —

On Tuesday evening, November 9, 2004, Dr. Mary E. Hines, campus executive officer at Penn State Wilkes-Barre in Lehman, announced plans for the construction of an $8 million Abram Nesbitt, III Academic Commons building with groundbreaking in summer 2005. Dr. Hines made the announcement to an enthusiastic crowd of faculty, staff, students, advisory board members, and community supporters of the campus. Penn State cheerleaders, the Nittany Lion, and the PSW-B Chorus helped to kick-off the celebration with a Penn State Blue & White tailgate party. “As we approach our 90th anniversary in 2006, our newest building will blend Penn State’s educational traditions with a vision for a future of even higher quality higher education,” said Dr. Hines. “The library, classrooms and academic support services housed in the Academic Commons will provide local Penn State students and area residents new opportunities to experience the University’s excellence in teaching, research, and service.” Dr. Diane Disney, dean of the University’s Commonwealth College, was also in attendance and offered remarks to the audience.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre has been serving the educational needs of the community since 1916. The growing number of associate and bachelor’s degree programs that can be completed at the campus and the expansion of continuing education programs have presented significant space and technological challenges. Construction of the Academic Commons will add 33,000 square feet of space for research, learning and academic support. The new facility will include an enhanced Nesbitt Library, seminar rooms for class instruction and student project work, study rooms, and reading areas and lounges; spaces for cultural and intellectual events for the campus and community; additional classrooms with enhanced technological capabilities; and expanded spaces for continuing education courses for area businesses. Once the new building is completed, the former library will be renovated to house essential academic support services including the Advising/Counseling Center, Registrar, Career Center, and the Center for Academic Success.

William Davidowitz, a long-time member of the campus advisory board and chair of the campaign, stated, “As a Penn State alum, I am honored to chair this campaign which will bring numerous academic enhancements to our local students in their pursuit of a quality Penn State education.” Honorary chair, Robert A. Fortinsky, a Distinguished Penn State alum and member of the University’s Board of Trustees, said, “As we move forward to the public phase of our campaign, we will be seeking the support of community members and corporations to partner with Penn State Wilkes-Barre in this expansion of facilities to serve their needs and those of local students. Our Academic Commons will bring resources which will be shared by both our students and our communities.”

Students in the campus Surveying Club, along with members of the maintenance department, mapped out a “footprint” of the new building which will be located between the current library and Hayfield House. WNEP-TV’s SkyCam took aerial photos of the site which were presented to those in attendance at the kick-off. Peter Bohlin, president and principal, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, unveiled a working model of the project.

Jane A. Kanyock, director of institutional advancement, said the campus has raised $5.4 million in private support toward the $8 million goal in the silent phase of the campaign. Updates and information on how to contribute to the Academic Commons project can be found at www.wb.psu.edu/academiccommons or by calling the office of institutional advancement at 570-675-9228.

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