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Posted October 8, 1999

SMITH FAMILY DONATES CHAPEL AND BELL TOWER TO BEHREND

Larry and Kathryn Smith     Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, has announced that the Larry V. Smith family has made a gift to build a multi-faith chapel and bell tower for the campus. The $ 3 million project will be funded by gifts for the bell tower from the late Floyd "Smitty" Smith and his wife, Juanita, and for the chapel by Larry V. Smith, his wife, Kathryn, and their children. Larry Smith is an alumnus of the College.

    Larry Smith, owner of Automation Devices, Inc. in Fairview, said family members have had an ongoing interest in Penn State Behrend and wished to express their commitment through this gift. He noted that his father, who had not had the opportunity to go to college, admired the progress he had seen and wanted Penn State Behrend to have a bell tower. "It's a feature he believed all colleges should have," said Smith.

    Smith explained that he and his wife decided to build a chapel for the college several years ago, when he was dealing with health problems. "We experienced tremendous support from family and friends at that time and made the commitment to fund the chapel in the future if it were at all possible," he said. "We're happy we could honor our commitment."

    Mrs. Smith noted that she was very much in favor of the project, believing in the importance of having a chapel on campus. "Students are making lots of critical decisions in college," she said, "and many of them will benefit by having a place to receive support and guidance." She and her husband made the gift with their children, Colleen L. May and Kevin E. Smith, both of whom work with the family business.

    "The multi-faith chapel is a very significant project for the College," said Dr. John M.Lilley, provost and dean. "The University recognizes that spirituality is an important dimension of a well-rounded education, and we are pleased that the Smith family has chosen to create a space where students, faculty, and community members can worship and enjoy programs with a spiritual purpose."

    Lilley said that many students at Penn State Behrend are active in a number of faith communities established on campus and noted that approximately 30 faith traditions are now represented in the College's faculty, staff, and student body.

    "Students and faculty have looked forward to this project with tremendous anticipation," said Ken Miller, interim dean of Student Affairs. "The new chapel will give students a center in which to focus on their spiritual growth, their service activities, and their ethical development." Miller pointed out that the College has seen a marked increase in student participation with projects such as the Alternative Spring Break and the annual 30-hour fast, which creates awareness of world hunger, conducted over the last several years. He also said the College expects the chapel will become a popular location for weddings, baptisms, and other special occasions in addition to its program of services.

    A statement developed by faculty, staff, and students calls for the chapel's design to "inspire reverence, awe, contemplation, and peace." The document recommends that the building be related to architecture throughout the campus, blending elements of the historic Glenhill Farm with those of newer facilities including the Library/Academic Building and the Engineering Complex.

    Early plans envision the chapel with not only a flexible worship space but also rooms for receptions, small gatherings, and meetings. The bell tower will feature a clock and a full carillon of bells that will toll the hours and play both sacred and secular music.

    Penn State's Board of Trustees has just approved Noelker and Hull Associates, Inc. as the architectural firm that will oversee the project. The firm has a long history of designing award-winning chapels and churches, including the multi-faith chapel for the President of the United States at Camp David.

    Design work will begin immediately. The College expects the project to be sited and ground to be broken within the year.

    This is the second major gift the Smith family has made to Penn State Behrend. In 1984, they gave the College the historic federal-style home and 55 acres located on Station Road just east of the College's main entrance. The building, thought to be the oldest brick structure in Erie County, is being preserved along with two other historic structures on Station Road--a barn and Logan House, originally the home of the Mack family.

 

Penn State Behrend, Knights of Columbus
Last Updated August 09, 2001 08:24 PM -0400