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IUP Trustees Approve Naming of Punxsutawney Fairman Centre Library in Honor of Donor

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Council of Trustees approved naming of the culinary library in the Fairman Centre, in Punxsutawney, as the Samuel R. and Elaine K. Light Culinary Library.

The resolution was approved in honor of a gift from Elaine Light for the renovation of the Fairman Centre.

Light’s gift for the Fairman Centre is in honor of her late husband, Samuel R. Light. Samuel Light was an IUP trustee from 1965 to 1971 and was the president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club from 1952 to 1976. Light, now of Pittsburgh, is a longtime Punxsutawney resident.

Located along Mahoning Street, the Fairman Centre offers retail space on the first floor of the building and residential space and classrooms for students in IUP’s Academy of Culinary Arts on the second and third floors.

Total renovation costs for the 106-year-old, three-story, 24,669-square-foot building are estimated at $4.7 million. Work began in November 2006 and will be completed this fall.

The Fairman Centre is the former J.B. Eberhart building. At a November 2006 ceremony, the Punxsutawney Regional Development Corporation and the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce formally turned the building over to the Foundation for IUP.

During that event, Dr. Tony Atwater, IUP president, announced a $1.9 million gift from the Alan and Roy Fairman families, of Jefferson County, to assist in the revitalization of the building.

The renovation and subsequent uses of the Fairman Centre are estimated to create up to sixty new jobs within five years of operation and add the opportunity for 300 new students at the Academy of Culinary Arts and at IUP at Punxsutawney.

“Mrs. Light’s gift demonstrates her commitment to IUP at Punxsutawney and her support of IUP and its partnership with the community,” Atwater said.

“The Fairman Centre project is a win-win for the entire community. The region retains this beautiful, historic building in a restored condition that benefits the downtown district, and the university benefits by generating an additional venue for offering educational activities and programs that support curricular and workforce education goals.”

Light lived in Punxsutawney from 1950 to 1991. She formerly served as president of the Punxsutawney College Trust and is a member of the advisory board of the academy.  She also actively promoted the groundhog tradition in Punxsutawney, including authoring several groundhog-themed cookbooks. She was named Punxsutawney’s Woman of the Year in 1959 and is a lifetime member of the Groundhog Club.