Friends News

Student Center Dedication

by Jessiah Hulle - University Communications | Nov 03, 2016
Student Center dedication
One of the most anticipated moments during this year's Homecoming events, came on the afternoon of Oct. 21 when the doorways to the new expansion of the student center were opened to students. Executive Vice President and Vice President of Development Dan Mortensen, Ph.D., emceed the dedication ceremony and started by thanking President Emeritus Don Meyer, Ph.D., for his discussion with the Cardone Family which launched the expansion. 

The idea for the expansion began in 2014, when Meyer approached the Cardone Family with a proposition for expanding the existing Anvil Student Center to an adjacent area that was being used by the Department of Music. The Cardone Family generously agreed and pledged to match two dollars for every one dollar that was raised by supporters of the project, up to $250,000. A fundraising committee consisting of Mortensen, Rev. John Kenney '82, Rev. Dominic Cotignola '98, Rev. Art Adams, Rev. Phillip Bongiorno '55 and Rev. Lee Rogers '01 reached out to alumni and friends of the university for donations. 

In addition to recognizing the Cardone family, Mortensen made special reference to an anonymous donor who gave $59,000 to the project. He also remarked on four other donors who had given gifts of $5,000–$10,000 each. Notably, half of all the donors gave gifts between $100–$1,000, with an average gift amount of $100 given per person. In all, the generosity of 181 donors who were alumni, former and current Board of Trustees members, former and current employees, churches, UVF vendors and parents of current students provided the $125,000 needed to obtain the full match. Mortensen said the sacrificial nature of the donors was well represented by the gift of Ruth Dietrich, who was 60 years old when she graduated with the class of 1980. Now 96 and unable to attend the dedication, Mortensen read a letter she had written to him stating her love for Valley Forge and the work that God was doing with students on campus.

Student Government Association (SGA) President Deborah Phillips spoke next and offered her gratitude on behalf of the student body. She thanked UVF for investing in the expansion project that would bring enjoyment to the greater student body, and thanked the alumni and donors who made the project possible.

Following Phillips, Interim President Byron Klaus, D.Min., gave special recognition to those who headed the project, including the various contractors, UVF and Sodexo staff who oversaw the financial, logistical and design elements, and the U.S. Mission America Placement Service Retired Volunteer (U.S. MAPS RV) summer team which contributed much of the interior labor behind the project.

Dr. Klaus then asked Meyer to give the dedication prayer. Meyer asked all who were present to lay their hands on various parts of the room as he officially dedicated the space in prayer. Following the prayer, students began to chant, urging that Meyer lead in singing the Doxology, a tradition from when Meyer led chapel in past years at special occasions. The entire assembly sang along as Dr. Meyer led the nostalgic song one more time. Junior Casey Wilkes said afterward, “It was cool to sing the Doxology. I felt like I was starting college again.” Sophomore Sean McBride also noted the dynamic of the old and new mixing during the grand opening, stating that the Anvil expansion “cultivates the idea of leaving a … legacy at Valley Forge, but it also shows … moving into the future that the interim president brings to our campus.”

Following the prayer, Meyer and Phillips participated in the official ribbon-cutting, which was followed by a cake reception. Phillips said after the ceremony, “On behalf of the student body I’d like to say thank you to all of our Alumni and donors. We, as a student body, appreciate you investing in a space where we can come together in fellowship. You are greatly appreciated.”

The finished Student Center includes a game area with a pool table and ping-pong table, couches, chairs and tables for seating, and an impressive glass wall that invites light and overlooks the campus lawn. Additionally, to bring some of the nostalgia from the campus' past as a military hospital to the present space, a large banner which was originally a welcome mat in the lobby of the Valley Forge General Hospital's main administration building, now hangs inside a glass frame. Additional hospital memorabilia will be added to decorate the space. Beyond the student center, the project included renovated and expanded restrooms in the commuter lounge, a new SGA office and the new Patriot Store. Completion of the entire expansion project is anticipated in early November.