John J. and Char Kopchick Hall Groundbreaking Event Today

Posted on 9/22/2020 2:23:58 PM

Kopchick Hall IUP will formally break ground today, September 23, at 4:30 p.m. for John J. and Char Kopchick Hall, a $90-million, 142,536-square-foot science and mathematics facility. The ceremony will be available via livestream at 4:30 p.m.

Kopchick Hall, which will be home to the John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, includes more than 51,600 square feet of laboratory space. It is sited facing the Oak Grove and will be part of the center of campus. 

There will be a number of common spaces in the building—not just for science majors, but for all students—in order to showcase science and mathematics to the community. The facility is designed to be state of the art and flexible, offering both teaching and research labs, and reflecting the best thinking of what will be needed for science teaching and learning for the next 20 years. 

In addition to its laboratory spaces, which include 43 research lab modules, the building has almost 10,000 square feet of collaboration space and 8,000 square feet of formal teaching space, including three flexible classrooms. Some of the facility’s special features include a planetarium, imaging lab, laser lab, anatomy lab, and roof terrace and partial green roof for research. 

Construction for the facility will be underway this fall. Faculty and staff will move into the building in summer 2023; students will be in the building for classes for the fall 2023 semester.

In December 2018, IUP’s Council of Trustees approved naming both the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the new building in honor of IUP alumni John (’72, M ’75) and Char Kopchick (’73).

The John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics includes the departments of Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Geoscience, Physics, Preprofessional Programs, and Psychology. The Kopchick College currently is in Carl S. Weyandt Hall, which was constructed in 1965.

Approximately 65 faculty will be housed in the new Kopchick Hall, which will be home to all of the departments of the Kopchick College. The Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences will remain in Stright Hall, and the Department of Psychology will remain in Uhler Hall. 

The Kopchicks, who are members of the national campaign cabinet of IUP’s Imagine Unlimited comprehensive campaign, announced a $23-million donation to IUP in April 2018 for science and mathematics initiatives at IUP. The Kopchick’s donation is the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the university.

John Kopchick’s degrees from IUP are in biology; Char Kopchick graduated from IUP with an education degree. Currently living in Athens, Ohio, John Kopchick is a professor of molecular biology and the Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar at Ohio University; his wife, Char Kopchick, is the assistant dean of students there. He is a co-inventor of the drug Somavert, which combats acromegaly, a growth hormone disorder. John and Char Kopchick were raised in Indiana and Sagamore, Armstrong County, respectively.

IUP raised $9.7 million for the building construction to satisfy the financial match required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services. The announcement of the completion of the match was made at the 2018 Celebration of Philanthropy event upon the news of an additional $2 million to the $5 million already given by 1973 graduates Tim and Deb Cejka. Tim Cejka is a member of IUP’s Council of Trustees, the National Campaign Cabinet, and is co-chair of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Dean’s Advancement Council.

There have been a number of donations to support the Kopchick Hall construction project recognized by IUP’s Council of Trustees with naming resolutions for spaces in the new building.

In addition to gifts from the Cejkas, Bill and Audrey DeLaqui Madia, 1969 and 1970 graduates, respectively, made a $1.2-million pledge to the sciences; and Bonnie Harbison Anderson, a 1980 graduate, and her husband Steve, made a gift of $250,000 for the building.

Marcos Zegarra, a junior physics and pre-engineering major and mathematics minor from Monroeville in IUP’s Cook Honors College, will be the student speaker for the groundbreaking event.

Son of Kalani Palmer and Michael Belgrove and a 2018 graduate of Central Catholic High School, Zegarra is in a “3-2” program at IUP, which means he will spend the first three years of his education at IUP and then complete his  engineering studies at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. 

In addition to his work in physics, Zegarra has done research on “Prosthetic’s Effect on the Human Condition” with IUP biology faculty member Robert Major, focusing on why prosthetics fail to achieve the same functionality as their organic counterpart.

Zegarra is the 2018 recipient of the Cook Honors College Undergraduate Merit Scholarship and the Daniel G. Reiber Memorial Scholarship for Physics. He has participated in the Creating Opportunities for Applying Mathematics (SCOAM), the Undergraduate Summer Opportunities for Applying Research (USOAR) program, is a Peer-Led Team Learning Instructor, MATH 100 classroom assistant, Cook Honors College orientation leader, and IUP Physics Club member.

In addition to Zegarra, speakers during the groundbreaking are IUP President Michael Driscoll; Vice President for University Advancement Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna; Sam Smith, chair of the IUP Council of Trustees, vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and chair of the Board of Governor’s Audit and Compliance Committee; Tim Cejka; the Kopchicks; Dean of the Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Deanne Snavely; and IUP Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Tim Moerland.

In May 2018, IUP’s Council of Trustees honored the Cejkas with the naming of the IUP planetarium and its atrium as the Cejka Planetarium. In September 2019, the Council of Trustees honored the Madias with the naming of the IUP Department of Chemistry as the Madia Department of Chemistry. At the September 10 meeting of the Trustees, the Trustees honored Anderson and her husband by naming the Anderson Rotunda in Kopchick Hall in their honor and in memory of Bonnie’s parents, Edward J. and Donna M. Harbison.

Development of the plans for the building has been a collaboration among faculty, staff, and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Advancement Council, which includes John Kopchick. Building architects are Perfido Weiskof Wagstaff + Goettel.

The project is planned in phases. The first phase, Leonard Hall demolition, was completed in summer 2018 (the offices and classrooms in that building transitioned to the new College of Humanities and Social Sciences building). Kopchick Hall will be sited on the former Leonard Hall location and on adjacent space currently occupied by Walsh Hall, which will be demolished this fall. Laboratories and offices in Walsh Hall were relocated to Weyandt Hall during the 2019–20 academic year. Weyandt Hall will be razed after departments move into Kopchick Hall.

Imagine Unlimited is designed to move IUP forward as a national leader by transforming the student experience through scholarship, program enhancements, and new and modernized facilities, including Kopchick Hall. As of September 1, IUP’s Imagine Unlimited Campaign has raised more than $73.6 million toward its $75-million goal.