Penn State York breaks ground on student center improvements

Barbara Dennis
September 25, 2015

YORK, Pa. — Wielding shovels, members of the Penn State York campus community dug in and let the dirt fly on Sept. 22 during the ceremonial groundbreaking for the addition and renovation of the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center at Penn State York. The ceremony drew a crowd of more than 100 attendees. The $13.5 million project was approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees on Friday, Sept. 18.

Alyssa Zelwalk, a Penn State York student and vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA), shared her thoughts about the new construction and the improvements to the student center.

“Without residence halls, this building functions as a home base for students, kind of like our living room. We meet each other in the student center, we learn, we play games. We feel at home here,” she said. “Every aspect of this project will immensely benefit our campus for the foreseeable future and beyond.”

Another student, Justin Cheung, president of the SGA, also shared his thoughts concerning the student center project.

“It is exciting in many ways, for athletes and spectators, for those grabbing a bite to eat in between classes, for students who are studying to become the leaders of tomorrow, for groups of students working on group projects, for faculty and staff who will gather in a place full of energy to connect with one another and plan for the future of this great University. Perhaps most exciting of all on this commuter campus, the entire campus community and the community-at-large will once again have a center, a gathering place, a place to collaborate, learn, exercise, rest and reflect,” said Cheung.

To view additional photos from the groundbreaking, click here.

In addition to hearing from students, David W. Chown, chancellor of Penn State York, and Daniel Waltersdorff, chairman of the Penn State York Advisory Board and president and CEO of Barton Associates Inc., also spoke. Holly Gumke, director of business services at the campus, was the emcee for the festivities. Following the ceremony, those in attendance were treated to Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream.

The current 35,000-square-foot student center first opened its doors in 1968 when there were 259 students enrolled at the campus. In the fall of 2014, 46 years later, 1,172 students use that same facility on a regular basis.

The more than 28,000-square-foot project includes renovations and an addition, with much-needed kinesiology, intramural and athletic spaces in the form of a multi-activity court. The space will also allow for off-season athletic team practice for sports such as baseball, soccer and intramural activities, as well as badminton and ballroom dancing. In addition, a group fitness room, for classes such as yoga and spinning, will be included. The project will add about 14,000 square feet to the building, an increase of 38 percent.

Existing spaces also will be renovated, including upgrades to the existing gymnasium, bathrooms, an elevator and entrance with a vestibule, a game room, kinesiology classrooms, student services offices, concession stand area, and HVAC systems.

Funding for the $13.5 million project came from a variety of sources. A few years ago, the Student Government Association and the entire student body made a decision to commit a majority of their Student Activity Fee, over the span of the next three to five years, toward the renovation of the student center. The student contribution is $1.8 million; $1 million came from private donors, and the remaining money for the project was supplied  from the University.

The student center project is slated to be completed in fall 2016.

  • York SC Groundbreaking2 2015

    Penn State York students check out the floor plans and artist's rendering of the new and improved Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center which is scheduled to be completed sometime in fall 2016.

    IMAGE: Barbara Dennis
  • York SC Groundbreaking1 2015

    Daniel Waltersdorff, chairman of the Penn State York Advisory Board and president and CEO of Barton Associates Inc., was part of the groundbreaking and talked about the importance of the expanded student center to the campus and local community.

    IMAGE: Barbara Dennis
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Last Updated September 29, 2015