Ceremonial Groundbreaking for the Learning Commons

Oct 18, 2013

This is indeed a very exciting chapter in Marywood University’s history. We are now less than two years away from our Centennial, and, today, we are taking our first steps toward a bold future as we celebrate this ceremonial groundbreaking for the Learning Commons.

Today’s event is symbolic of more than shovels physically moving earth; it speaks to the cultivation of a courageous vision that has been years in the making—one that bridges a cherished past to an emerging future. Indeed, the Learning Commons will be more than a campus gem; it will be a community asset. By the Centennial year of 2015, it will be a reality.

What begins in faith is continued in faith, with deep gratitude to our founders. I now ask Sister Terry O’Rourke, President of the IHM Congregation, to bless the site of our new Learning Commons.

[Sister Terry gives the blessing.]

Let me take a moment to share a few words about our Learning Commons.

First and foremost, whenever we embark on a project—any project—whether modest or of great magnitude, we do so with a singular purpose in mind: our students. It’s always been about the students since 1915. Every building. Every program. Every decision. Every action. All of it for the sake of the people who come to Marywood with a dream, or with potential, or both.

As we reflect on this long history of helping students turn their dreams to deeds, we look forward to another century of excellence. We are equipping our students to be agents of strength in a rapidly evolving society, producing the kind of leaders that the world needs. The Learning Commons will play a major role in how we continue to accomplish this going forward.

This facility will represent the most current thinking in terms of information systems and technology. It will change your mind about what a library is and what it can do. It will move beyond being just a repository for information and become a place where people collaborate and create knowledge, using the latest technology and the energy that is borne of intellectual exchange and inspirational spaces.

The Learning Commons will contribute significantly to the growth of Northeast Pennsylvania. Take a closer look at the renderings; picture this space as it will be. As this vision nears realization, the support that we have received to this point—and will continue to gather—is crucial.

The confidence and support of the community and our benefactors clearly demonstrate its significant potential. The recent award of a four million dollar Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant for this project is an investment by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that affirms the range of opportunities this dynamic facility will offer our campus as well as the region.

I would like to specially recognize those who are helping us to realize the full potential of the Learning Commons and invite them to say a few words:

State Senator John Blake, who represents the 22nd Senatorial District, and who also is a Marywood alumnus; Senator Blake…

[Senator Blake speaks.]

Thank you, Senator Blake.

Next, I invite Dr. Carolyn Dumaresq, Acting Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to share a few words.

[Dr. Dumaresq speaks.]

Thank you, Acting Secretary Dumaresq.

The support from the state, as well as the regional community, has been so gratifying to us. We recognize and thank Dan Meuser, Secretary of Revenue for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, who is here with us today, for seeing the value of this worthy initiative. And, although he could not be with us today, we are pleased that State Senator John Yudichak, who represents the 14th Senatorial District, has sent Cindy Vough, one of his legislative aides, to be here in support of our Learning Commons initiative.

In addition, our alumni have stepped forward to offer their support, individually and collectively. We recognize the class leadership of:

  • The Class of 1963, who celebrated their 50th Anniversary Reunion this year and who have committed their class gift to the support of the Learning Commons.
  • The Class of 1961, who have designated their class gift to support the Motherhouse Memorial Garden, which will be a beautiful exterior gateway to our Learning Commons, reflecting our cherished history while also leading us into the future.

At a time when institutions of learning, particularly libraries, are experiencing significant economic constraints—yet increased usage—the establishment of a multi-use learning facility that will serve a multitude of learners could not be more critically needed.  Now, I ask the following people, who have been integral to the planning and development of this project, to join me:

  • Senator John Blake
  • Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq
  • Atty. Marion Munley, Board Chair
  • Sister Therese O’Rourke, IHM, President, Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Jack Sweeney, Marywood Trustee and Chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee
  • Dr. Alan Levine, Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Tony Spinillo, Chief Information Officer
  • David Schappert, Library Director
  • Theresa Thomas, Senior Associate, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson; Theresa is also accompanied today by designer Heather Morehead.
  • David Hemmler, Principal at hemmler + camayd architects
  • Jonathan Reif, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Sordoni Construction Services, Inc.


Together, let us unearth the possibilities and opportunities before us, as we break ground for this first phase of what will become the intellectual and social heart of campus and the new iconic symbol of the launch of Marywood’s second century.