West Chester University Officially Unveils New Sciences and Engineering Building

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A ribbon cutting for West Chester University's new Science and Engineering building (SECC)
Image via West Chester University.
Participating in the ceremonial ribbon-cutting of West Chester University’s new SECC building were (from left) Dr. Tracey Robinson, vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and chief diversity inclusion officer; JT Singh, senior associate vice president and chief information officer; Dr. Jeffery Osgood, deputy provost and vice president for academic operations; Andrew Lehman, vice president for university affairs and chief of staff; Dr. Zebulun Davenport, vice president for university advancement and external affairs; Dr. Laurie Bernotsky, executive vice president and provost; Marc Duey, managing partner of Duce Management and former founder, president, and CEO of ProMetrics; Dr. Susan Fiorentino, professor of management and coordinator for the Master of Science in Human Resource Management program; Dr. Christopher Fiorentino, president of West Chester University; Todd Murphy, vice president for finance and administration; Deb Cornelius, interim executive director of the WCU Foundation; Matthew Holliday ’09, president of WCU Alumni Association; Dr. Tabetha Adkins, interim vice president for student affairs; Dr. Radha Pyati, dean

West Chester University’s recent ribbon-cutting of the SECC building is the latest evidence that the university is a powerhouse to be reckoned with.  

On Thursday, Sept. 15, WCU officially cut the ribbon on a building project that is estimated to total more than $130 million; it is, the most complex building in the university’s history. 

It is also the largest building construction project ever undertaken within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. 

With lots of purple-and-gold fanfare, officials cut the ribbon outside the main lobby doors of the 175,000-square-foot Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons (SECC).  

The SECC is described as a game-changer for PASSHE’s largest university. It provides a living-learning environment for the next generation of scientists, physicists, engineers, nurses, nutritionists, and other in-demand positions.  

The SECC is the university’s response to how it can best serve its students to meet the modern challenges of the world.  

About the SECC 

The three-story facility houses the university’s rapidly growing health science curricula, physics, and 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 and 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 

• A Physics Forum on the third floor, where “Physics Teas” draw physics students and faculty to talk about classes, graduate school, and other topics 

The design of the building focuses on collaborative space with alcoves peppered throughout.  

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.  

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 WCU President Chris Fiorentino.  

“In every meeting that the university had with architects, we stressed that we had enough buildings with podiums, desks, and chairs,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Laurie Bernotsky. “We needed more collaborative spaces where the singular focus would be on engaging students actively in all aspects of learning throughout the facility.” 

The Commons 

The facility also features The Commons, an 800-seat, 16,000-square-foot residential dining facility on the second floor where students can gather, eat, and work.  

The building includes a 162,000-square-foot parking garage for 462 parking spaces.  

Officiating at the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony 

Participating in the ribbon cutting were Fiorentino; Bernotsky; Managing Partner of Duce Management and Former Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey; and WCU Alumni Association President Matthew Holliday. 

Bernie Carrozza, chairman of the board of directors of Student Services, Inc., was unable to attend the ceremony but contributed significantly to the SECC.  

SECC Project Benefactors  

The three-story facility has been built with the support of two critical leadership gifts.  

A generous gift of $1 million was given by Duey, also an adjunct professor at the university who teaches in the Marketing Department and the Pharmaceutical Product Development Program. The gift was given in association with the Duey family. 

A second $1 million gift was given by SSI. 

SSI is a not-for-profit organization designed to help WCU students achieve 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. 

Learn more about West Chester University. 

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