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Shippensburg University gets $10 million grant

January 29, 2001

Shippensburg University gets $10 million grant



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - A nearly $10 million gift from the state of Pennsylvania puts Shipppensburg University halfway to its goal of building a $20 million regional cultural and educational hub for the 130-year-old campus in Cumberland County.

Last year H. Ric Luhrs, a Shippensburg-area businessman and member of the Shippensburg University Foundation's Board of Directors, pledged $2.6 million to the project provided the state money came through and the university could raise the rest through a fund-raising campaign, said Laura Burkett, director of publications and advertising at the 7,000-student school.

The state money is part of Gov. Tom Ridge's commitment of $18.4 million in state capital budget funds to expand Bloomsburg and Mansfield universities and the construction project at Shippensburg. Burkett said the university hopes to move into the new center by 2004.

School officials were waiting for confirmation of the state's share, which came Friday in a visit to the school by Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker, before beginning the design stage.

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That phase should take between 12 and 14 months, Burkett said.

"This new center has the potential to contribute substantially to the educational, cultural and economic development of the south central Pennsylvania region," Burkett said.

The main feature of the new performing arts center will be a 2,500-seat theater. It will replace the old 662-seat theater in Memorial Auditorium that was built in 1951, Burkett said.

"We'll be able to bring in Broadway touring companies and symphony orchestras," she said. The last time the Harrisburg Symphony played at Shippensburg University, the performers barely fit on the old stage, she said.

There will be an orchestra pit, dressing rooms, a dance studio, music performance rooms, a lecture hall, seminar rooms, conference rooms, laboratories for music and drama, a black box theater for smaller productions and a large lobby and gallery, Burkett said.

The music and theater arts departments will move into the new building.

It will be built near Heiges Field House and will face the Cumberland Union Building. Passageways will connect the three buildings.

Anthony F. Ceddia, Shippensburg president, said in prepared remarks that the new center "will enable the university to invest in improving the quality of life for tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians and others through cultural, social and academic programming."

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