Chester, Pa.—Widener University on Friday officially opened Founders Hall, the university’s first “green” academic building and home of the School of Nursing and the Oskin Leadership Institute.
The architecture of the new building compliments that of Old Main, the university’s signature building. The 35,000-square-foot, three-story building was constructed according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
Widener President James T. Harris III said the building was named for the many people who helped found the university throughout the years, from its origins as a Quaker boarding school for boys, to a military college, and finally as a comprehensive university dedicated to civic engagement and the development of leaders.
“This university is the legacy of their leadership,” Harris said. “They all have buildings named after them, but their true legacy is not the brick and mortar buildings with their names etched in stone, it is the thousands of graduates from this institution that they have helped develop who have gone on to be leaders and founders in their own right -- people who have served as generals, members of Congress, judges, CEOs, authors, artists, and teachers. That is their true legacy, and that legacy that we will continue to develop through the Oskin Leadership Institute and the School of Nursing.”
The building provides a modern facility for research and scholarship in the field of leadership, and unparalleled laboratories and classrooms for the teaching and learning of modern nursing practices. It features a variety of laboratories to simulate real-world nursing experiences including a hospital simulation lab, an intensive care unit-trauma lab, a pediatrics suite, an obstetrics suite, and even an apartment lab to simulate a home-care situation.
In addition, the building is home to the Oskin Leadership Institute, announced in November 2008 with a $5 million gift from the family of David W. and JoEllen Oskin. The institute provides a variety of opportunities for Widener students to participate in leadership development activities, experiential learning, and international opportunities. The institute will also work with corporations and other organizations to offer an executive leadership program, providing opportunities for corporate and non-profit executives to enhance their global leadership skills.
“This building has everything you would want or need as a nursing student,” said Megan Hardy, a senior nursing major from Broomall, Pa. “I graduate in May, but I’m very excited for my fellow students, and those students who are considering coming to Widener. They will have the benefit of a state-of-the-art facility, receive a first-class education and have unparalleled leadership opportunities.”
The building, which cost about $15 million, was partially funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Higher Education Assistance program. The remaining balance is being paid through increased enrollment in the School of Nursing, which is admitting an additional 25 students per year. Harris said that university did not take on any additional debt in the construction of the building.
Founders Hall was designed by Tevebaugh Associates of Wilmington, Del., and built by HSC Builders and Construction Managers of Exton, Pa.