Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Held for the Largest Project & Most Complex Building in West Chester University’s History:
The Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons Stands at 175,000 Square Feet
On Thursday, September 15, amid lots of purple & gold fanfare, the ribbon was officially cut to West Chester University’s 175,000-square-foot Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons (SECC), the largest project and most complex building in the University’s history. Among those doing the official ribbon-cutting honors outside of the SECC’s main lobby doors were West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino; Executive Vice President & Provost Laurie Bernotsky; Managing Partner of Duce Management and Former Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey; and WCU Alumni Association President Matthew Holliday ’09.
The SECC is a game-changer for West Chester University, which is the largest university within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, as it provides a living-learning environment for the next generation of scientists, physicists, engineers, nurses, nutritionists, and other critical-demand positions. In fact, the SECC has changed the entire learning landscape at WCU. Instead of asking how students can become ready for West Chester University, the University is asking how it can become ready for students; the SECC is the University’s response.
More About the SECC
The new three-story facility is home to the University’s rapidly growing health science curricula, physics, new biomedical engineering program, as well as expansive academic and support spaces. The state-of-the-art facility boasts:
- the Duey Immersive Learning Center, where high-tech mannequins mimic patients in a simulated hospital setting;
- an advanced Food Sensory Lab, where students are taught how the taste, smell and flavor of food/drink affect people’s food choices;
- roof-top garden beds, where Nutrition Department students grow vegetables that will be taken to the WCU Resource Pantry and other places within the community; and
- a Physics Forum on the third floor, where “Physics Teas” draw physics students and faculty to talk about classes, graduate school, and other topics.
There are also numerous collaborative spaces and alcoves peppered all over the facility. Active learning is encouraged through whiteboards that enable students to brainstorm and share concepts on the spot. Classrooms include flat-screen TV monitors and large-area writable wall surfaces to foster student-work groups; 16 of the classrooms feature video-web conferencing. In addition, dramatic “learning stairs” provide a stimulating hang-out space for students and a captivating floor-to-ceiling video wall highlights the University’s vibrant campus.
“Above all else, this building centers on what students need to learn to be hands-on and successful in critical-demand fields,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino.
Executive Vice President and Provost Laurie Bernotsky concurred. “In every meeting that the University had with architects, we stressed that we had enough buildings with podiums, desks and chairs,” she said. “We needed more collaborative spaces where the singular focus would be on engaging students actively in all aspects of learning throughout the facility.”
Recognizing that meaningful connections happen in a variety of settings, the facility also features The Commons — a welcoming and stimulating environment for students to gather, eat and work. The 800-seat residential dining facility encompasses more than 16,000 square feet of the building’s entire second floor. An intentional and progressive design encourages students to use the facility as a third space and an exciting location to meet, get a healthy meal between classes, and engage in other formative, non-academic activities.
In addition to serving students’ academic and co-curricular needs, the building also includes an adjacent 162,000-square-foot parking garage, which includes 462 parking spaces. While total costs for the SECC have not been finalized, it is estimated that the project will total more than $130 million. The SECC is the largest building construction project ever undertaken within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
SECC Project Benefactors
The three-story facility has been built with the support of two critical leadership gifts. Managing Partner of Duce Management and Former Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey, also an adjunct professor at the University teaching in the Marketing Department and the Pharmaceutical Product Development Program, in association with the Duey family, made a generous gift of $1 million toward the important project.
Student Services, Incorporated (SSI), also made a generous gift of $1 million to the project, thanks to Student Services, Incorporated Chair of the Board of Directors Bernie Carrozza ‘66. Student Services, Incorporated is a not-for-profit organization designed to serve the students of West Chester University. SSI is committed to WCU students and stands ready to ensure that they have whatever they need to meet their academic goals. The objective of the corporation is to initiate, regulate, and operate the financial matters of the University’s co-curricular student activities.
The West Chester University Alumni Association also contributed significantly to the building project with a generous donation of $150,000.
“At a time when West Chester University enrolls numerous STEM majors, Marc and Maureen Duey; Student Services, Incorporated; and the West Chester University Alumni Association have invested in the next generation of WCU graduates who will enhance our region and our world as innovative engineers, nurses, nutritionists, physicists, public health professionals, and scientists,” said West Chester University President Christopher Fiorentino. “All of us are grateful to these generous benefactors who have created new possibilities and great opportunities for an increasing number of WCU students who are dedicated to preparing themselves for high-performance careers that will make a considerable difference to many.”