New Commons opens at Wilson

October 07, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Even before the furniture arrived last week, the new $4.2 million Lenfest Commons was quickly becoming a hub of life at Wilson College, President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson said Sunday at the facility's dedication.

The project, which began in May 2001, included the renovation of two floors of McElwain and Davison halls into a community center, featuring a common gathering area, expanded school store, post office and student offices. Students are particularly looking forward to using the fitness wing scheduled to open today, said senior Nicole Noll, president of the Wilson College Government Association.

Planners expect the facility will pull the community together, with the new amenities drawing more students and staff into the common space.


"This is their space to encourage their sense of community," said Robin Bernstein, chairwoman of the Wilson College Board of Trustees.

More than 200 students, faculty and alumnae gathered inside Lenfest Commons Sunday morning to dedicate the new facility and to thank Marguerite and H.F. Gerry Lenfest for their generosity to the college.

"This provides a much-needed unification of so many activities," said Marguerite Lenfest, a 1955 graduate of Wilson.

The first floor of Lenfest Commons houses the health center office, chaplain's office, career development center, dean of students and enlarged college store, in addition to the large lobby where the dedication took place.

The ground floor features student activities offices, a post office, the fitness wing and in the future will include a coffeehouse.

"It draws faculty, students and staff together in fellowship and dialogue," Edmundson said.

Noll agreed the facility would only bring students at the small women's college and its continuing education program closer.

"Having a central meeting place can only strengthen the sense of unity on campus," she said.

"It's a place where everyone can truly feel like a part of the Wilson community," said Darby Fritsche, a continuing education student.

Architecturally, Lenfest Commons ties together the surrounding buildings, echoing the Victorian-style of Norland and Edgar halls.

"This project truly transforms the core of the Wilson campus. Not only does it create architectural harmony ... it permits air and light to flood into a formerly somber space," Edmundson said.

While the project has been supported by alumnae for years, it was the donation from Marguerite Brooks Lenfest and her husband, Gerry Lenfest, that helped make it a reality.

The center is funded through donations to the college's $57 million Forever More Capital Campaign, which the Lenfests chaired.

The couple, who earned millions in the cable television industry, have made previous donations to Wilson and to Mercersburg Academy, which Gerry Lenfest attended.

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