Trustees approve plans, funding for new Behrend recreation and wellness center

July 15, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Board of Trustees today (July 15) approved the final plans for construction of a new fitness and recreation center at Penn State Behrend. The new building will replace the campus’ Erie Hall, built in 1952.

The board authorized $28.2 million in funding for the building, which will provide new fitness, wellness and recreation space, as well as a counseling center and ample space for campus events. The new facility also will provide dedicated space for the campus’ various athletic teams.  

Nearly 40% of the funding for this project comes from the commitment made by Penn State Behrend students to use the Student Initiated Fee.

“The student commitment underscores the need for this facility, which will support the college’s NCAA and intramural teams while expanding the fitness and wellness options for all students on campus,” campus Chancellor Ralph Ford said.

The 52,700-square-foot building will be a significant increase over the size of Erie Hall, which was the first building the University added to Ernst and Mary Behrend’s original Glenhill Farm estate. At the time Erie Hall opened, Behrend did not yet offer four-year degrees.

The original gymnasium has doubled as a dance hall, with music by 15-piece bands. At one dance, students built an electronic turntable, which powered a carousel.

Erie Hall also hosted basketball championships and a campaign stop by former President Bill Clinton. The building is aged and dated; however, replacing it will remove almost $5 million from the campus maintenance backlog. 

Erie Hall will be razed this summer and the new building constructed on the existing site, on the northern edge of the Behrend campus. 

The new center will add facilities for student fitness and recreation, as well as a gymnasium, training rooms and support space for the college’s NCAA Division III teams. It also will expand the campus’ wellness programs and the Personal Counseling office will use the new space to offer workshops related to anxiety reduction, stress management, nutrition and healthy living strategies, among other health-related topics.

Last Updated July 15, 2021