University postpones Learning Commons groundbreaking


Concept artwork for the new Learning Commons

Sarah E. Cruz, News Editor

University administration postponed what was to be the April 19 groundbreaking of the Learning Commons due to the recent situation concerning the nursing program.

“The president felt that, at this time, her focus and the focus of the university should be directed solely on doing everything possible to meet the needs of our nursing students and the nursing program. The groundbreaking will be held at a more appropriate time,” stated Juneann Greco, director of communications.

The ceremony was to mark the start of Phase I of the construction of the new library, which administration said will begin this summer as scheduled. The initial plans for this phase include the moving of all underground utility lines, set to be completed around late August or early September. Phase II will begin in December of 2013 with the determination of final costs and contractors. Staging–when heavy equipment will be brought to campus and the area in front of the current Learning Resources Center blocked–will take place in late January or February 2014. Evacuation and construction will begin in March. The facility is set to be completed by May of 2015, and will open by that summer with a dedication taking place on September 8, 2015.

The Learning Commons is a part of Marywood’s centennial campaign, “A Bold Heart.” The university had originally intended to go public with the campaign this spring, but has moved the announcement to October 2013.

Due to these delays, the entire project has been set back about five months. Joseph X. Garvey, vice president for business affairs and treasurer, stated that on February 20, the state tentatively approved $4 million in RACP (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program) funding. Since the university filed for it in the summer of 2012, administration had hoped that notification of its approval would be received by the end of September 2012.

Including the RACP grant, the university has only $7 million of the estimated $35 million required to complete the project.

However, the Office of University Advancement has been working diligently to garner financial support for the endeavor. Rene Zehel, director of development, said that both she and Sr. Anne Munley have traveled to numerous parts of the country including Florida, California, and Arizona to meet with alumni.

“Most of the people that we’ve talked to have been very excited about what we’re trying to do and have pledged their support, ” she stated.

The administration remains optimistic that they will acquire the needed funding.

“We have received numerous donations from donors ranging upwards of several hundred thousand dollars. We have not to date received any seven-figure donations, but we have every confidence that they will come along,” stated Garvey.

He added that the university will also have to take out loans in order to cover the remaining expense of the Learning Commons, but hopes that when more individuals make pledges over the next five to ten years, the debt will be paid.

Despite the lack of major funding, Garvey is confident that the university will attain the needed financial resources. “Marywood’s administration and its trustees are committed to building this Learning Commons and having it dedicated for the beginning of the centennial,” he stated.

Zehel urged the university community to be positive. “It’s important that everyone understands that it is a process. Have faith that good things take time. Be the optimist and see the opportunity in the difficulties,” she stated.