Penn State President Eric Barron attended the event and shared how this project will bring help to bring groundbreaking advances and opportunities to the students, faculty and community members who will teach, learn and collaborate in this new space.
“With this important new addition to the campus, Penn State Lehigh Valley is answering the new challenge of training a skilled workforce and fueling the wave of innovation underway,” Barron said. “Given that healthcare is the largest employer in our region, the demand for workers with a background in science and technology is constant.”
Barron then welcomed Hibah Akbar, Penn State Lehigh Valley Student Government Association president, to the podium.
“Coming from a pre-med major, this expansion will allow for more STEM majors to take classes like organic chemistry close to home," said Akbar. "But even if you’re not in STEM, it’ll open doors for further classes, majors, and conversations to be had about initiatives, education, and further diversification that is already being seen by our students."
PPL Corporation CEO Bill Spence, who along with his wife, Denise, are donors to the expansion project, then spoke about how the expansion will allow more students to remain in the Lehigh Valley to complete their degrees and help support the region’s growing economy.
“And that’s why today is so important – it’s about expanding opportunity right here in our own backyard for the next generation of leaders, scientists, doctors and more,” said Spence, who graduated in 1979 from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences with a bachelor of science degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering.
Penn State graduate and former Congressman Charles Dent spoke about how he is from a family of Penn Staters and how his son benefited from the support he received at the Lehigh Valley campus when he attended.
“You are doing a great deal to strengthen the mission of this great university, it makes me so proud to be a part of this community,” Dent said.
Dent graduated in 1982 with a bachelor of arts degree in foreign service and international politics and was the recipient of the “Friend of Penn State” legislative award in 2016 for the significant role he has played in the continued improvement of Penn State. He also received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019, which is the University’s highest honor presented to its alumni. Dent currently serves as a political contributor for CNN and a senior policy adviser for DLA Piper.
Madlyn L. Hanes, Penn State vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor, said the expansion is transformational and well planned.