Posted October 8, 1999
SMITH FAMILY DONATES CHAPEL AND BELL TOWER TO BEHREND
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
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
"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