As I arrived on campus in late February to assume the duties of president, the Fisher-Waller project was on hold. Asking the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to reactivate the project would require bold and sober leadership. After analyzing the situation, however, I concluded that moving the project forward was critical to IUP for a number of reasons.
From their strategic location on the Oak Grove at the core of the IUP campus, the Fisher and Waller facilities represent much more than just good-looking buildings. Together, they serve as the university’s living room. It is here that we perform a unique and important outreach mission by enriching the cultural climate of the Indiana region in creative and memorable ways.
A brand-new Cogswell Hall takes shape as Oakland Avenue gains a third lane.
Even before this project was reactivated, a series of improvements served to make this vital core of university outreach more attractive and hospitable. Significant improvements in lighting have transformed the Fisher plaza into a jewel-like setting after dark. New lights throughout the Oak Grove draw casual strollers as well as theatergoers almost like magnets. And, the addition of a parking garage a few steps from Fisher across Eleventh Street has lessened parking hassles.
Features of the new structure connecting Fisher and Waller will dramatically enhance the experience of campus patrons and theatergoers. They will also provide better facilities for our performing arts students. According to College of Fine Arts dean Michael Hood, “The beauty of this plan is that it brings the facilities into the modern age for the performers and the audience without compromising the buildings’ essential character.”
Dean Hood and the Fine Arts faculty have outlined key requirements for significantly enhancing IUP’s performing arts environment. With this project and the Cogswell Hall renovation, the living room of IUP is assuming a grander appearance to the benefit of the campus and regional communities.
In undertaking the Fisher-Waller project, the university also is insuring a bright future for some of its strongest academic programs. IUP is proud to play a role in maintaining and improving an historic centerpiece of arts and culture for the entire region.