University administration moving forward with Learning Commons despite low funds

Concept+artwork+for+the+new+Learning+Commons

Photo credit/ The architectural firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Concept artwork for the new Learning Commons

Sarah E. Cruz, Assistant News Editor

Marywood University is preparing to enter the next phase of its plans for the new library, known as the Learning Commons, despite the fact that it has yet to raise at least half of what it needs to complete the project.

Joseph X. Garvey, vice president for business affairs and treasurer, stated that the entire project will cost approximately $35 million. The university is currently seeking funding from a variety of sources including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), as well as loans and bond issues. The Learning Commons is also the centerpiece of the university’s Centennial Capital Campaign, A Bold Heart, which the university anticipates beginning next spring to coincide with the tentative groundbreaking.

The campaign is currently in what is known as the advanced gift or silent phase, primarily focusing their fundraising efforts on those closest to the university. While university administration would not say how much has been raised to date, Dr. Clayton Pheasant, vice president for university advancement, did say that he is “optimistic” about reaching the 50% mark of the campaign by the spring in order to begin the public phase.

“[Our objective] is to have commitments in place so when [we] go public, we will be well on our way to our goal. We’ve had very substantial commitments from some people,” said Pheasant.

According to Wendy Yankelitis, assistant vice president for buildings and grounds, the university is now moving from the schematic design phase into the full construction design phase of the project. The Learning Commons will be constructed between the Memorial Commons and where the Learning Resources Center currently stands. Once it is built, the current library will be demolished to make way for landscaping and a natural amphitheater where concerts and other activities will be held.

The one feature of the Learning Commons that will set it apart from other libraries is the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS), which will house 95% of the library’s volumes, making Marywood the first university in the country with such a comprehensive system.

Jim Frutchey, interim director of library services, said that the facility will also house the offices of Information Technology, Tutoring Services, and the Honors Program. In addition to a knowledge bar where users can receive assistance or research on their own, it will also have a much larger dining facility.

University administration anticipates completion of the Learning Commons by late summer of 2014, and dedication in the fall of 2015.