INDIANA – Under the shade of the Oak Grove trees on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus Wednesday, members of the school’s administration, board of trustees and alumni gathered to break ground on the new science and mathematics building.
The John J. and Char Kopchick Hall will be a state-of-the-art, $90 million facility offering 142,536 square feet of laboratories, collaborative space, formal teaching areas, flexible classrooms and housing the Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
John and Char Kopchick graduated from the university in the 1970s and donated $23 million to the university in April 2018 for the science and mathematics initiatives at IUP, the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the school.
“This is a milestone moment for IUP,” Vice President for University Advancement Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna said at the groundbreaking.
Osseiran-Hanna led a series of speakers that featured the Kopchicks; university President Michael Driscoll; and alumnus, trustee and co-chairman of the university natural sciences and math advancement council Tim Cejka.
Deanne Snavely, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Sam Smith, vice chairman for the Board of Governors of PA State System of Higher Education; and IUP Provost Timothy Moerland also spoke.
Most of the speakers focused not on the construction aspect of this project but the completion and what will occur within the walls of the new building.
That was a key focus for the building’s namesakes.
John Kopchick said that though he and his wife were “proud and humbled” to have the hall and college of natural sciences and math named after them, the important issue is the education the students will get there.
“Today is much more than the turn of the first sod of construction,” Char Kopchick said.
The work that the faculty and staff will do there and how that work will build on what is already happening at IUP is more important, she added.
Driscoll commented that Kopchick Hall will give students a place to immerse themselves in science and math.
“We want to make Kopchick Hall a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) launching pad for the region,” he said.
Construction on the four-story facility will be underway this fall, with the concrete footers completed by April of 2021.
Erection of the steel framing will follow shortly after and by August 2022 the exterior cladding will be complete.
Kopchick will be built on the ground where Leonard Hall once stood. It was demolished in 2018.
An adjacent building, Walsh Hall, will also be demolished to make way for Kopchick.
Laboratories in Walsh were relocated to Weyandt Hall in during the 2019-20 academic year and that structure will be razed once all departments move into the new building.
Kopchick Hall will be open to students in the fall of 2023 and house the departments of biochemistry, biology, chemistry, environmental engineering, geoscience, physics, and pre-professional programs.
The remaining departments that make up the college of natural sciences and math, mathematical and computer sciences and psychology, will continue to reside in Stright Hall and Uhler Hall, respectively.
Snavely said Kopchick Hall will represent the “high standard” for science and math that the faculty and students strive for at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
She also noted the flexibility of the new building and stated that it was designed to accommodate remodeling in the future to keep it up to date.
Before wrapping up her speech, Snavely dedicated her shovel of dirt in support of those endeavors.
Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.