It's a new era for Penn State Abington and its hometown, Abington Township, as the campus broke ground for its first residence hall. Scheduled to open in August 2017, the $50 million complex will serve as home base for about 400 students.
They will live in four- to six-person apartments in the center of the township within walking distance of shops, restaurants, parks and public transportation into Philadelphia. It replaces a vacant building, shielded from traffic on the town's main road by a greenway.
The location and the residence hall itself reflects the college's commitment to sustainability. It's less than a half-mile on primarily residential streets to campus so students may walk, bike, or ride a shuttle with bike- and car-sharing programs available. The green building earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, one of the first in Abington Township.
“Students will create strong friendships with roommates of different cultures and backgrounds. They will prepare for life on their own.”
-- Charlena Frank, Abington Student Government Association
Charlena Frank, president of the Abington Student Government Association, welcomed the social and academic opportunities the University-owned housing offers students.
“We are standing where future politicians, engineers, scientists and many others will start their college journey,” she said. “Students will create strong friendships with roommates of different cultures and backgrounds. It will allow students to experience and prepare for life on their own.”
The groundbreaking served as a capstone to the two decades Chancellor Karen Wiley Sandler led Abington College. She retires next month after shepherding the project through years of development.
"When you look at this building, you’ll be reminded of Penn State’s commitment to enhance the educational, economic, and cultural well-being of Abington Township and the region," she told the crowd.
"Great communities and great universities thrive in tandem.”
-- Damian Fernandez, incoming chancellor at Penn State Abington
Sandler said businesses should be prepared to serve students — especially hungry ones — because each apartment includes a kitchen, but there is no communal dining facility.
"We expect students to be integrated in the community," she said. "They will contribute to the township through volunteering, internships, inventions and jobs."
Sandler shared a message from Damian Fernandez, the campus' chancellor as of July 1: “To our friends and neighbors in Abington Township, thank you for your partnership. We are in this together. Great communities and great universities thrive in tandem.”
"We expect students to be integrated in the community. They will contribute through volunteering, internships, and jobs."
-- Karen Wiley Sandler, chancellor of Penn State Abington
Dignitaries from Abington Township including Commissioners Steven Kline and Benjamin Sanchez attended the event. The residence hall's closest neighbor, Old York Road Temple-Beth Am, welcomed everyone for lunch after the groundbreaking.
Penn State Abington draws from the Philadelphia region as well as a growing number of out-of-state and international students.