This past December, the IUP community was elated with word from Governor Tom Ridge that $3 million would be released for the design of the university’s Regional Development Complex. In this one project is embodied an unprecedented opportunity for IUP—as well as an unprecedented challenge.
The facility will rise on the South Campus, a 137-acre parcel that the university acquired in 1995 and that now includes a continuing education technology training laboratory; varsity baseball, softball, and soccer fields; and, at some distance from the playing fields, the executive residence. The RDC will adjoin the playing fields and will face the Indiana County industrial park. The project will be sited and designed so that in the longer term the RDC will share a wall with a new stadium, making possible common elevators, locker rooms, and boxes.
IUP’s Regional Development Complex will feature a synergistic blend of traditional arena activities (such as basketball, concerts, and trade shows) with twenty-first-century functions that include corporate training, conferences, continuing education, high-technology linkages, and an e-commerce accelerator.
Originally planned in a more conventional “convocation center” mode, the structure and its scope were expanded and refocused as the result of a deliberate decision on the part of the university to serve the critical needs of Western Pennsylvania. This decision was based on the perception that IUP’s long-term interests are best served by the region’s revitalization. The RDC is distinguishable from any other university capital project: while it meets certain specific university needs (a site for indoor Commencement ceremonies, for example), it also benefits the larger community and in fact is viewed as a joint university-community project.
Making use of the entire complex at one time will allow for hosting fairly large conventions and conferences. The arena will seat approximately 8,000. A combination of fixed, comfortable armchairs and movable bleachers will permit the space to be reconfigured for different types of events.
The total complex comprises approximately 200,000 square feet at a cost of $40 million. The state has pledged $20 million, and the university and community must raise the remaining $20 million. We are approaching this task on two fronts: (1) in collaboration with our Congressional delegation, we are working to align the programs and purposes of the facility with federal funding priorities in the hope of attracting significant federal monetary support, and (2) we are now seeking our initial lead and principal gift investments that will name portions of the Regional Development Complex.
While we dream dreams of all that the RDC will mean to the university and the community, we concern ourselves with the day-to-day challenge of making those dreams come true. All members of the university family—alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends—have a share in this endeavor.
We will be seeking unprecedented support from our especially loyal individual friends and alumni, corporations, and foundations, who, with a payable pledge over five years, can give the university a significant boost forward with their support. Moreover, when we demonstrate the level of involvement and willingness to commit resources that our alumni have, it can aid us in our persuasion of others to support our projects. Any degree of support that alumni and friends pledge becomes a major part of the effectiveness and advocacy for IUP within the Western Pennsylvania region.
As the campaign unfolds for a university, it demonstrates the university’s priorities for its future, its service, and its mission. IUP has its eye on the long-term prosperity and twenty-first century progress of the institution. The Regional Development Complex, about which you will learn more in the coming months, will be accompanied by the recognition of our needs for scholarships, technology support, the Library, and other forms of academic and student enrichment and enhancement.
We are eager and excited about involving IUP alumni and friends in this endeavor and look forward to their questions and involvement. We will call our effort “Gateways to Opportunity,” as that is what IUP has been and is for so many.