More than 150 people—students, faculty, alumni, and community guests—attended Friday's renovation celebration of Whitmyre Hall, home to the Cook Honors College.

The Whitmyre Hall Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon cutters were, from left, Provost Timothy Moerland; Alumni Dave Reed; Acting Director Chauna Craig; student speaker Matthew Hiles; President Michael Driscoll; Cook Honors College assistant director Kevin Berezansky; and IUP Trustee Susan Delaney.

The ribbon cutting ceremony featured speakers David Reed '00, a member of the first graduating class of the Cook Honors College and a 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient; sophomore Cook Honors College student Matthew Hiles, an accounting and finance major from Kittanning; IUP President Michael Driscoll; Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Timothy Moerland; and Chauna Craig, acting director of the Cook Honors College

Tours of the building and light refreshments, themed to the rooms where they were placed, followed the ceremony. The event also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first graduating class.

President Driscoll speaks at the Renovation Celebration for Whitmyre Hall

IUP President Michael Driscoll praised the Cook Honors College as a source of pride for the university and praised the collaborative nature of its coursework and its students.

Many current students attended the event and filled the exterior stairway to the entrance of the building for the ceremonial ribbon cutting photo.

In introducing the event, Craig offered a quote from Winston Churchill: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.” She spoke about how members of the Cook Honors College community worked to keep the building's history and features during the renovation, and praised the new rooms and science classroom, commenting that the new study spaces reflect the global nature of the students that the Cook Honors College recruits.

President Driscoll noted that the Cook Honors College has been, and continues to be, a great source of pride for the university, and praised the collaborative nature of its coursework and students.

Hiles, who is a member of the first cohort of students to study in the new classrooms, is an IUP legacy—his mother is an accounting graduate of IUP.

In making his remarks, he said he knew the Cook Honors College was special even before he was accepted.

“I've already noticed an almost frightening change—for the better—in the way that I think and act,” he said. He praised the community for being interesting and diverse, and recognized the instructors for “being some of the best.” He said that while the Cook Honors College is about the people, the building also helps to gives the college its unique character. He thanked the Cook Achievement Fund for providing him the chance to study in China this past summer.

Dave Reed speaks at the Renovation Celebration for Whitmyre Hall

Dave Reed, a member of the first graduating class of the Cook Honors College in 2000 and an IUP Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, talked about the opportunities the Cook Honors College provided to him and how the CHC provides “an ivy league education to families who could never afford one.”

Reed also offered his appreciation for the opportunities offered to him by the Cook Honors College, noting that he quickly realized the great caliber of IUP's faculty and coursework when he began his master's study at the University of Pennsylvania. “The Cook Honors College offers an ivy league experience to families that could never afford it,” he said. He encouraged students to “experience it all, appreciate it all, and take advantage of it all.”

Reed endorsed the fundraising opportunity launched for alumni and friends to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first graduating class of the Cook Honors College ($200,000 for scholarships) through IUP's Imagine Unlimited comprehensive campaign. “It's an exciting way to pay it forward.”

Provost Moerland said that the Cook Honors College received 352 applications last year and welcomed the largest class in its history, 138 students, this fall. “No doubt the Cook Honors College will continue to grow in the respect and honor it deserves,” he said. He thanked all members of the community who have worked to bring the CHC from its beginnings to its present.

The 26-month, $4.6-million renovation in Whitmyre Hall includes a rebuilt entrance, a facelift for the living spaces on the second and third floors and a comprehensive upgrade of the restrooms and shower rooms on those floors, six new seminar rooms, new individual student study rooms, and additional lounging areas.

Planning for the renovation of Whitmyre Hall, now 67 years old, began in summer 2016. Renovation of the residential areas, which offers 180 beds, was completed for the fall 2018 semester, with work on the new seminar, study, and lounging areas completed for this fall.

 Provost Timothy Moerland speaks at the ceremony

IUP Provost Timothy Moerland recognized the excellence of the Cook Honors College and thanked all who have worked to bring the program forward to its 20th year. He noted that the Cook Honors College welcomed its largest class in its history this year, 138 students.

Internal and external infrastructure renovations were also part of the renovation, including updating the mechanical systems and modifying the entrances to the building and selected residential rooms for accessibility.

Ribbon-cutting speaker Reed ran for the State House of Representatives at the age of 24. When first elected, he was the youngest member of the State House, and through hard work, forging positive and collaborative relationships, he was twice elected by his peers to become the House Majority Leader.

At the conclusion of his eighth term serving in the House of Representatives, Reed chose to join First Commonwealth Bank as their regional president for the Pennsylvania Community Markets, a position he currently holds.

Reed serves on the board of directors of the Indiana County Community Action Agency and the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. He enjoys coaching Little League baseball and youth football. Reed and his wife, Heather, a 2013 master's degree graduate of IUP and a member of the IUP Alumni Association Board of Directors, live in Indiana with their son, Joshua, and their daughters, Gracie and Elliana.

Hiles, son of David and Amanda Hiles, is a 2018 graduate of Armstrong Junior-Senior High School. He lived in Whitmyre Hall during his freshman year. In addition to his majors, he is working to earn a certificate in Chinese. He is treasurer of the Management Association, is a member of the IUP Ambassadors, is co-president of the Chinese Language and Culture Club, and is a member of the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology Business Honors Program.

Robert Cook, a 1964 graduate, made his first multi-million-dollar philanthropic investment to establish the honors college in 1993. The first class entered in 1996 and graduated in 2000. Cook also established the Cook Honors College Achievement Fund, which provides assistance for the college's students to study abroad, participate in internships and research, and undertake enrichment activities.

Of IUP's 16 student Fulbright Scholars, 10 have been Cook Honors College students, as have IUP's nine Goldwater Scholarship recipients and many of IUP's 19 Gilman Scholars.

IUP's Imagine Unlimited is a $75-million comprehensive campaign, which currently has gifts totaling over $62 million. The campaign will enable the IUP community to reach its shared vision and step forward as a national leader, distinguished by new thinking that has no limits and that cuts across traditional academic boundaries.