Community and school leaders joined students and athletes at Purdue University North Central on Thursday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Student Services and Activities Complex, which is set to open in time for the May, 2016 commencement.
“This is a day of celebration,” PNC Chancellor James Dworkin told about 100 on hand to mark the beginning of the construction process of the new building. “This building is all about our students, alumni, PNC workforce and our community.”
When complete, the 102,239 gross square foot Student Services and Activities Complex will serve a number of purposes. Among them will be a gymnasium with two full-sized basketball courts, a study lounge, rooms for student organizations, a fitness area and wellness center. An event hall that will have the capacity to seat more than 2,000 guests will also be fit into the building.
“It’s a huge building, and I’m really excited about what it could mean for our students,” Dworkin said.
When Dworkin and other community leaders finally took shovels to the ground following an introductory ceremony, it culminated ten years of planning.
“This building was a long time coming,” said Matt Migliorini, president of PNC’s Student Government Association. “Now marks the start of a new era at PNC. This is a dream come true for everyone here.”
On the athletic side, the new facility will be the home of both basketball and volleyball teams at PNC. Currently, those teams play home games away from campus.
“This is a game changer,” said Tom Albano, director of athletics at PNC. “This is a great day for our basketball and volleyball programs, and I am already looking forward to attending our first home game.”
Robert Kennedy, vice president of the PNC Construction Club, said he is excited for a unique opportunity he and his fellow construction students will have to “monitor all phases of construction” of the building and learn from that process.
The new building also received praise from numerous elected officials on hand for the ceremony.
State Senator Jim Arnold thinks this is a great addition for PNC and La Porte County. “This is a crown jewel of our educational system in La Porte County. This is what Representative (Tom) Dermody and I have been working for down state for the funding, and now that it has become a reality, this is exactly what the doctor ordered for La Porte County.”
“Once the people of La Porte County have the opportunity to see this building when it’s completed, they will see that there’s really not a need to send your kids to big universities all over the country. You can get a quality education right here in La Porte County.”
The groundbreaking was made possible by more than 130 donors to the project, including the Kesling family, which will bear the name of the athletic facility. In all, more than $3.7 million of the $33.4 million project will be paid for through gifts.
For Dworkin, the new facility’s impact on student recruitment could be endless, especially since PNC and the Purdue University Calumet campus in Hammond are currently undergoing a merger.
“There is some serious competition in this area to attract students to PNC,” he said. “Having a modern facility like this is a must.”
Reporter David Dabagia contributed to this report.