Grove City College is embarking on a series of long- and short-term campus improvement projects this summer, including the renovation of iconic Rockwell Hall of Science and the construction of a Chick-fil-A restaurant inside Breen Student Union.
The work represents a major investment in the future of “Freedom’s College” and will be a boon to the local and regional economy through jobs created and money spent on materials and services from area businesses.
The Rockwell renovation is expected to cost about $48 million and will take the building – and all its classrooms, laboratories, and offices – offline for two years. In addition to a complete technical, mechanical, aesthetic, and functional makeover of Rockwell Hall, the project includes a three-story “science in action” connector linking the College’s oldest academic building to its newest, STEM Hall. The new space will provide additional room for students to collaborate and experiment and will feature the Foucault’s Pendulum that was part of Rockwell’s original 1931 design.
Work this summer will focus on getting the building – and 92-years’ worth of scientific clutter – cleaned out and cleaned up for construction to begin in earnest in the fall. The renovation is a top priority of Impact 150: The Anniversary Campaign for Grove City College, a $185 million capital campaign launched this year.
Turning the student union’s former Gedunk grille into a Chick-fil-A and a series of short-term summer projects, ranging from replacing damaged slate on the roof of Harbison Chapel to rebuilding air handlers in Staley Haley Hall, are budgeted at around $3 million. Most of that work is expected to be completed before students return in the fall.
“We have our hands full,” said Susan Grimm, vice president for Operations at Grove City College. “Between our regular seasonal work maintaining campus facilities, refitting part of the student union for Chick-fil-A and beginning and making accommodations for the Rockwell work, we certainly will have a challenging but exciting summer”
Much of the work is typical for the summer at Grove City College, focused on improving and maintaining the existing campus infrastructure. This year it includes new carpet in Phillips Field House and the Technological Learning Center, roof work on the Pew Fine Arts Center, parking lot improvements, mechanical system upgrades in several buildings, and installing new dorm furniture. But other projects are a direct result of the Rockwell and café work.
To accommodate faculty displaced by the Rockwell renovation, student housing in the Physical Learning Center is being converted into interim office space for professors. To make up for the lost student rooms, a little-used wing of MAP West Residence Hall is being repainted and upgraded for students to live in this fall, if needed. Classes and labs previously held in Rockwell will be shifted to other campus facilities for the duration of the renovation.
The College is adding a 24/7 service counter in Hicks Café to provide some of the same “grab and go” items – sandwiches, salads, juice, and snacks – that were available at Gedunk grille. “We want to ensure that students have a wide range of dining options,” Grimm said.
The work done on campus this summer and throughout the year helps fuel the local, regional, and state economies, according to a 2022 study by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.
Grove City College is responsible, directly and indirectly, for more than $175 million in statewide economic impact annually, AICUP concluded after analyzing direct spending on operations, wages, benefits, and capital projects and the estimated increase in demand for goods and services in industry sectors that supply or support the College.
The College also supports and sustains 1,547 jobs statewide, including those employed directly and others created by supply and equipment vendors, contractors and service jobs and helps generate more than $8 million in tax revenue every year. AICUP’s analysis revealed.
In addition to funding the Rockwell renovation, Impact 150: The Anniversary Campaign for Grove City College aims to generate support for student scholarships and a host of campus improvements and future construction, including a new field house adjacent to Robert E. Thorne field. To learn more about the campaign and donate, visit gcc.edu/impact150.