Groundbreaking set for new building at Penn State York

The almost 8,000-square-foot Graham Center for Innovation and Collaboration will provide space for continued growth and expansion of entrepreneurial leadership activities

Penn State York will break ground on the Graham Center for Innovation and Collaboration at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, at the campus. This architect's rendering shows the first floor of the planned building. Penn State President Eric Barron, York campus representatives, and other University officials will take part in the ceremony. Credit: Murphy & Dittenhafer ArchitectsAll Rights Reserved.

YORK, Pa. — A groundbreaking ceremony set for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, signals the beginning of a construction project to build the Graham Center for Innovation and Collaboration at Penn State York. Thanks to generous support from Donald Graham, York business leader and philanthropist; John and Maria Polli, local philanthropists; two local foundations, the Powder Mill Foundation and the J. Warehime Foundation; and the University, The Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies (The Graham Center) will have a new home.

The ceremony will take place atop the hillside between the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center and the Main Classroom Building, which overlooks the city of York. The ceremony is open to the public.

"The Graham Center for Collaboration and Innovation will transform the Penn State York campus. It will provide a permanent home for our growing Graham Fellows program and allow the campus to offer new entrepreneurial leadership programs open to every student on our campus,” said David Christiansen, chancellor of Penn State York. “The addition of the Graham Center building is a visible reminder of the partnership between Penn State and Donald Graham to prepare students for a successful professional career."

Architect's rendering of the interior of the first floor of The Graham Center for Innovation and Collaboration to be constructed at Penn State York. Credit: Murphy & Dittenhafer ArchitectsAll Rights Reserved.

The 7,945-square-foot, two-story building incorporates an open-concept floor plan to provide flexible space that can accommodate smaller collaborative student group work, individual mentoring sessions, and formal classes or lectures, as well as large events and presentations. There will be space for students to meet and engage with members of the local business community, and office space for the director and others associated with the program. The design incorporates a large amount of glass to allow for plenty of natural light in the open spaces and breathtaking views.

“Don has long been a wonderful advocate for advancing entrepreneurship and innovation at Penn State and across the region,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “He has led by example, and we are deeply grateful for all his incredible leadership and commitment to Penn State students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.”

The lower level of the two-story The Graham Center for Innovation and Collaboration provides additional collaboration space and meeting rooms. Credit: Murphy & Dittenhafer ArchitectsAll Rights Reserved.

The Graham Center for Innovation and Collaboration will provide space for current programming and growth in the future. It will be located prominently on campus to provide visibility to the center’s activities and convenient access for corporate partners.

The total project budget, including furniture, fixtures and equipment, is approximately $5 million, and is expected to be completed by summer 2020, in time for the Penn State Board of Trustees meeting at the York campus in July.

“This will be an exciting day at Penn State York as we break ground for the Graham Center for Innovation and Collaboration,” said Madlyn L. Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor. “This new facility will enable the Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies to expand its learning opportunities for students in entrepreneurship. Through their studies at The Graham Center, students will participate in real-world applications and apply their entrepreneurial skills to explore inventive ideas and prepare for successful careers. This new facility will also provide much-needed space for innovation and collaboration with the business community. We are grateful to Mr. Graham for his generosity and vision for Penn State York.”

More than 60 students are part of The Graham Center and have taken part in a variety of events and activities to prepare them to enter the workforce. The Graham Center is designed to enhance students’ career preparation experiences through interdisciplinary coursework, mock interviews, workshops in résumé writing, etiquette dining, networking opportunities with local business, and, in some cases, internship experiences. The Graham Speaker Series also provides students with opportunities to meet and hear from local and national leaders in a variety of career fields. To learn more about The Graham Center, visit

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

To make a gift to The Graham Center, contact Di Hershey, director of development for Penn State York, at 717-771-4127 or 

Last Updated April 19, 2019