Wilkes University launched more than $3.3 million in campus enhancements during a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, May 21. The projects, primarily focused on the Fenner Quadrangle and the area around the Henry Student Center, will transform Wilkes into a park-like campus in the heart of the City of Wilkes-Barre.
The project combines University resources with Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funds to beautify the campus and surrounding neighborhood, while improving pedestrian safety and alleviating traffic congestion. Completion is expected in August.
Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy was joined by Wilkes board of trustees chairman, Dan Cardell ’79, for remarks. Senator John Yudichak, Representative Eddie Day Pashinski ’67, and Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George also spoke during the short program.Sarah O’Hara ’18, who graduated on Saturday, addressed the impact of enhancements that occurred during her time at Wilkes, while reflecting on the importance of those to come.
Notable projects include:
- A $2 million project that will create new entrances to the Henry Student Center parking lot from South River Street and South Franklin Street. The project also includes an expanded south entrance plaza to the student center with landscaping and outdoor seating. The parking area will be expanded to South Franklin Street with a pedestrian walkway connecting to the Henry Student Center. The project is partially funded by the Multimodal Transportation Fund (MTF) program, which provides grants for transportation-related projects. Wilkes received a $650,000 grant in 2016. The MTF grants are provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
- A $1.3 million expansion of the Karambelas East Campus Gateway into the heart of campus. The gateway, constructed in 2015, connects South Main Street to South Franklin Street. The expansion of the gateway into the Fenner Quadrangle ensures a cross section of walkways defining and connecting the Wilkes campus for students, faculty and staff as well as visitors. Additionally, this project will create the new South Campus Gateway, which will connect the Henry Student Center to Stark Learning Center. These two Gateways will beautify the campus and support recent renovations to the engineering labs in Stark Learning Center.
Leahy said these enhancements will make the campus safer and more attractive, increasing Wilkes’ unique appeal as an American private university like no other, offering the opportunities of a large research institution in the mentoring environment of a small private college.
“Wilkes University is investing $100 million to create a first-class, traditional, residential campus in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Our capital improvements focus on enhancing the educational experience and quality of life for our students, while contributing to the revitalization of our home city,” said Leahy. “This would not be possible without state funding, and we are deeply grateful to Sen. John Yudichak and Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski for their help in securing the Multimodal Transportation Fund grant that makes this comprehensive and transformational project a reality. We are also grateful to our host city of Wilkes-Barre, who’s continued support and partnership is critical to our success.”
“The public-private partnership between Wilkes University, the City of Wilkes-Barre, and the Commonwealth on projects like the Campus Gateway project drive the city to new heights while paving the path for Wilkes University to become one of the top small research universities in the country. When these enhancements are completed, students, visitors, and residents alike will be able to traverse the campus in a safer manner while enjoying the beauty of the campus and the city simultaneously,” said Senator John Yudichak.