MORE THAN 400 PEOPLE CELEBRATE OPENING OF $90 MILLION JOHN J. and CHAR KOPCHICK HALL DURING RIBBON CUTTING EVENT
More than 400 people celebrated the opening of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s $90 million science building at ribbon cutting ceremonies today at IUP. John J. and Char Kopchick Hall, the university’s new $90 million, 142,536 square foot science and mathematics building, opened today with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Indiana Borough Mayor Bill Simmons opened the ceremony with a proclamation naming today as John and Char Kopchick Day in Indiana.
Kopchick Hall will be open for classes for the spring semester.
Home to the John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Kopchick Hall includes more than 51,600 square feet of laboratory space and is sited facing the Oak Grove. The building and college are named in honor of IUP graduates Dr. John and Char Labay Kopchick. Long-time IUP supporters, the Kopchicks made a $23 million donation to IUP in April 2018 for science and mathematics initiatives at IUP.
Dr. John Kopchick earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1972 and a master’s degree in 1975 in biology and chemistry. Char Kopchick graduated from IUP with an education degree in 1973 and has a master’s degree from Ohio University. Dr. Kopchick earned his PhD in biomedical sciences from the University of Texas and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in New Jersey.
The couple currently lives in Athens, Ohio. Dr. Kopchick is Distinguished Professor and Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar, Edison Biotechnology Institute and Heritage College of Medicine, Ohio University; Char Kopchick is executive director of K-12 Arts Partnerships and Professional Arts, Fine Arts, Dean’s Office at Ohio University. Dr. Kopchick is a co- inventor of the drug Somavert, which combats acromegaly, a growth hormone disorder. John and Char Kopchick were raised in Indiana and Sagamore, Armstrong County, respectively.
Dr. Kopchick expressed his appreciation and honor for having his and Char’s name associated with the College, and he thanked everyone involved in the project.
“The purpose of a ribbon-cutting ceremony is to mark a new beginning. It’s a symbolic way to announce to the world that we here at IUP have something special. We want to celebrate this milestone. new building is and will be a tangible reminder of our goal to inspire a lifelong passion for learning, and help our students become the best version of themselves, with integrity and responsibility,” Dr. Kopchick said.
“This goal is made possible by our unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality teaching and learning environment for our faculty and students. These new facilities are a bold reflection of that commitment,” he said.
He spoke about his own experience growing up in Indiana County, and how he became interested in biology at IUP and his career accomplishments, including his “path” to success: project; purpose; persistence; passion; and pleasure. “One needs to have enjoyment and happiness in what we do,” he said. “After all, its not a job but a profession.”
He also spoke to his name being associated with IUP biology professor Dr. Shundong Bi’s newly discovered dinosaur, Yuxisaurus Kopchicki.
“Finally, we are deeply and profoundly proud to have our name ‘etched’ in the history of science at IUP. It is a spectacular, breathtaking, awesome, and humbling honor. A heartfelt thank you goes to the outstanding leadership whose vision, guidance, commitment, and expertise resulted in this incredible facility.
“We and other former IUP students are certainly appreciative of our education here,” he said. “We hope all future IUP students who study and do research in this fabulous College and building will be inspired to a lifelong passion for science and education.
We know that they are intelligent; I personally want them to also be smart!” he said.
“In conclusion, we hope that their experience at IUP will help them succeed in their life pursuits and perhaps ‘change the world! Why not?”
In addition to remarks from the Kopchicks, the ribbon cutting program featured Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors Chairwoman Dr. Cynthia Shapira; Council of Trustees Chairman and Pennsylvania State System Board of Governors Vice Chairman Sam Smith; State Representative Jim Struzzi; biology honors program major and pre-med student Hannah Borys; President Driscoll; and Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Lara Luetkehans.
Dr. Steve Hovan, dean of the Kopchick College, served as emcee for the ceremony.
Members of the Marion Center High School choral group presented “A Million Dreams” during the event.
“On the day we broke ground, I spoke about the opportunities for our students that this building will provide, and standing here tonight, in this amazing facility, reinforces what I said 1,135 days ago,” President Driscoll said in his remarks.
“I said, ‘This building, once completed, will provide our students a place to immerse themselves in the world of science and mathematics. Here they will do more than be in awe of new discoveries; they will make them. They will have the equipment and facilities to take their education to a level that most undergraduate students do not get until graduate school, if at all. And they will do it while working side-by-side with faculty members who have a passion for science and mathematics who are experienced teachers and cutting-edge researchers and who are driven to discover more.’
That was true then, and it’s certainly true today,” he said.
“By using the input of faculty, staff, alumni, and other scientists to design and create Kopchick Hall, what we have done is build more than a building. Its possibilities stretch beyond the basic structure because it’s more of a living laboratory than a simple series of classrooms.
“At places inside Kopchick Hall such as the Circadian Rhythm Research Lab and the Aquatic Fish Facility, students and faculty will do more than study living and breathing organisms. They’ll do it in the environments that provide life, giving them more of a 360- degree view of science.
“That learning will extend outside at such places as Fern Hollow, the outdoor space where plants can be studied to learn more about the fertile earth under our feet so we can find ways to better care for our planet.
“We’ve always known that Kopchick Hall was needed so our students and faculty could reach beyond what’s already known. But now that it’s here, we see that it’s so much more.
“It’s the perfect facility. Not just for our curious students, and not just for our expert facility, but for all of us. The work done in Kopchick Hall will impact so many lives, not just here at IUP, but around the world, and that’s what I’m most excited about,” President Driscoll said.
He ended his remarks by thanking everyone involved in the building’s construction, including the Department of General Services for moving the project forward during a pandemic.
During her remarks, Dr. Shapira recognized that the building “is an exciting symbol for IUP, for the State System, and for all of Pennsylvania,” and “a symbol of the bright future that is ahead for the university. Generations of students will walk through these doors and obtain a great IUP education in these classrooms and labs.
Young people – who are not even alive today – will come here full of excitement and energy to learn skills and do research that we cannot even imagine today.
The future is in these halls, just waiting to be discovered,” she said.
She also recognized the faculty who will be involved in leading students in their educational journey.
“This building is also a symbol of the State System’s commitment to providing the talent our state needs,” she said. “Our mission as state-owned universities is to provide a high-quality education at the lowest possible cost to students. That mission drives our decision-making every day, including the Board of Governor’s decision to freeze tuition for six years in a row. That value proposition is why so many students choose IUP and other PASSHE universities.
“Once they are here, our students graduate from IUP and the other PASSHE universities because of the human connections that form through the important work
that is done in buildings like these, through the seeking, learning, and sharing of knowledge that takes place here, as well as the foundations laid for great careers and productive lives.
“We are proud that IUP and our other universities are expanding the pipeline from the classroom to the workforce and preparing students for great jobs while they get the benefits of a university experience.
“And that is exactly what IUP is doing with this new facility. The university is providing students the opportunity to learn, to dream, and to gain the complex skills that will
attract more employers and new jobs to western Pennsylvania and make our state’s economy stronger,” she said.
She also expressed appreciation to the Kopchicks, President Driscoll and IUP, and to the Department of General Services for completing the project.
“And most importantly, thank you to the students at IUP and all of our State System universities. You are Pennsylvania’s future leaders, creators, thinkers, and dreamers. And all of us are excited to see you thrive,” she said.
Trustee Chairman Smith said that the building marks “culmination of years of hard work, a new era for IUP, and redefinition of how we engage with science and mathematics,” calling Kopchick Hall “more than just a building.
“It is a symbol of our commitment to excellence, how we plan to prepare students for a changing world, and our resolute belief in the power of science and mathematics to transform lives and shape the future.
“Within these walls lies great potential, potential to unlock discoveries that transform all of our lives; potential to find solutions to global problems; potential to educate the leaders of tomorrow. Within these walls our students–who are the heart and soul of this university–will lay the foundation on which they build their lives as productive citizens.
“In addition to a steadfast focus on our students, this facility also reinforces our firm commitment to attracting world-class faculty and researchers. Within these walls faculty are provided with the tools they need, in the environment they need to conduct groundbreaking research, to secure grants and to contribute to the greater scientific community,” Smith said.
He recognized President Driscoll for his ongoing commitment to IUP, and former dean of the Kopchick College Dean Emerita Dr. Deanne Snavely, for turning the dream of the building into reality.
“Something very special happened because she brought people together. People from across the country, people from different industries, people from government, people from education, all to help create and design this gem. This led to more opportunities, to new ideas, and yes, to additional gifts which all make this building extra special,” he said.
Smith closed his remarks by noting that today’s ribbon cutting is “also cutting the ribbon on a brighter future for our students, for this university, and for our community.”
IUP senior biology major and chemistry minor Borys opened her remarks with the statement of appreciation, and “it is with full sincerity that I say I have never been more proud to be a scientist at this incredible university than in this moment.”
Borys, from Beaver Springs, is a dean’s list student and provost scholar who received a grant for the Biology Undergraduate Research Experience program, is vice president of the American Medical Student Association, is a member of the American Chemical Society and National Society of Leadership and Success, volunteers at Indiana Regional Medical, and is a supplementary instructor for medical microbiology. Borys began her studies at IUP in fall 2020.
“My journey to science began in somewhat of an unusual way,” she said.
“Growing up, my mother owned and worked in a hair salon. As a result, I decided that I would attend cosmetology school during my senior year of high school. As I began learning about the disulfide bonds that provide the structural integrity of our hair, common types of bacterial infections, and studying the anatomy of the head, legs, hands, and feet, I found my love for science. I knew then that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. I just needed to find the right university for me,” she said.
“When I think of what a facility such as this means for the student body, I think of the possibility for departments to collaborate and expand our research departments to create more opportunities for students to achieve their goals. After all, science is for everyone. As we move onward to the spring semester, I feel nothing but optimistic about what is to come,” she said.
She also had a message for previous, current, and future students.
“To the students that have come before me: I thank you for the inspiring work you have done. To the students that will come after me: I urge you to take full advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and to think of this science building as an opportunity to engage in a curiosity-first education. And to the current students of IUP: let’s hit the ground running.
“As we turn our focus to rural health and wellness and consider a prospective college of osteopathic medicine, I feel that Kopchick Hall is going to be critical in bridging the
healthcare gap that we see in rural areas such as Indiana,” she said.
She ended her remarks by saying that “my ultimate goal is to attend medical school so that I can become a skilled psychiatrist, and I intend to come home and work locally, serving you great folks. I love IUP because it enables people like me to reach their full potential,” she said.
Rep. Struzzi recognized the day as “just incredible, truly an amazing day for IUP and for Indiana County.
“This is an awesome day not just for us, but for all of Pennsylvania. I was here three years ago when we broke ground, on my birthday actually, and that was a great way to celebrate a birthday, but this is just amazing.
“This is truly a major investment in IUP, in Indiana County, and in the State System and all of Pennsylvania. I simply can’t wait to see what brilliance will come from inside these walls and the opportunities that it will create, not only for the students but for the faculty. At a time when we are challenged to get more students to come to the State System, and specifically IUP. This will bring people here. This will make a difference in our country and in our world,” he said.
“I think I share in a sense of overwhelming gratitude today – to see the realization of our visionary leaders, advancement council members, faculty, administration and finance colleagues, vendors,” Provost Luetkehans said. “So, let me start by thanking the hundreds of members of our community that brought this vision to reality. Thank you.
“Until today, Kopchick Hall has been a promise. Standing here in Kopchick Hall, this incredible space, represents the realization of a vision where our faculty and students can experiment and create, where questions are asked, and where answers are sought. The promise of future discovery, innovation, and collaboration.
Provost Luetkehans also spoke about the role that Weyandt Hall, the current building housing the Kopchick College, had on science and learning at IUP.
“The promise of the future is intertwined with the past. So, I also want to take a moment to reflect on Weyandt Hall. It served IUP’s faculty and students for more than 50 years – a workhorse of a building that sparked generations of discovery, innovation, and collaboration- including a budding scientist, John Kopchick and an emerging educational leader, Char Labay.
“Today, Kopchick Hall represents the ongoing promise of discovery – the promise to support and nurture human curiosity. A place where our students will gain not only knowledge and skills, but also the confidence to take on the challenges of a complex world. Students from across all academic disciplines, in these classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices will embark on journeys of self-discovery,” Provost Luetkehans said.
“I cannot wait to be witness to the discovery, innovation, and collaboration that will unfold in the new Kopchick Hall,” she said.
The Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics includes the departments of anthropology; biology; biochemistry, chemistry physics and engineering; geography, geology, environment, and planning; mathematical and computer sciences, preprofessional programs and safety sciences.
Approximately 65 faculty will be housed in Kopchick Hall, which will be the physical home to all of the departments of the Kopchick College, except for the Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, which will remain in Stright Hall; the Department of Safety Sciences, which will remain in Johnson Hall; and the Department of Anthropology, which will remain in McElhany Hall.
In addition to its laboratory spaces, which include 43 research lab modules, Kopchick Hall has almost 10,000 square feet of collaboration space and 8,000 feet of formal teaching space, including three flexible classrooms. Some of the facility’s special features include the Cejka Planetarium, imaging lab, laser lab, anatomy lab, and roof terrace and partial green roof for research.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the facility was held on Sept. 23, 2020. Design and construction management for the project was provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services under the supervision of Secretary Reggie McNeil.
Most departments in the Kopchick College are currently housed in Carl S. Weyandt Hall, which was dedicated in October 1966. Before Weyandt Hall, departments now in the Kopchick College were scattered across campus. At the time of its opening, Weyandt Hall increased instructional space on campus by more than a third. It was unusual for a university to construct a building focused on science, and Weyandt Hall provided research spaces that had not been previously available for students and faculty on campus.
Weyandt Hall is named for the late Carl Weyandt, co-founder of the Syntron Company in Pittsburgh and co-developer of the electric hammer, for which the company was known. He served on the Indiana State Teachers College and the Indiana State College’s board of trustees (now IUP’s Council of Trustees) from 1958 to 1964 and made significant contributions to scholarships for students through his company.
Walsh Hall (the former home to several Kopchick College departments), was demolished in 2022. Weyandt Hall will be razed in spring 2024 after all departments are moved into Kopchick Hall.
Kopchick Hall was constructed on the site of Leonard Hall, which was demolished in summer 2018; the offices and classrooms in that building transitioned to the Jane E. Leonard Hall.
In addition to the naming of the College and Kopchick Hall in honor of the Kopchicks “who exemplify IUP’s tradition of excellence and who have demonstrated incredible loyalty to and affection for this university,” there are several named spaces and facilities in Kopchick Hall in honor of donors and supporters:
- The Bonnie Anderson Rotunda and the Harbison Innovation Classroom (Kopchick 103), In memory of Edward and Donna M. Harbison and in honor of Dr. Bonnie Harbison Anderson, a 1980 graduate and Distinguished Alumni Award recipient;
- Baker Family Biology Classroom (Kopchick 404 and 404A), named in honor of Dr. Frank T. Baker, in memory of his wife, Mary Baker, and in honor of their children, Douglas Baker and Kathleen Baker;
- Cejka Planetarium (Kopchick 203), named in honor of 1973 graduates Tim Cejka and Debra Phillips Cejka for their unwavering support and generosity; Tim Cejka is a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and a current member of the IUP Council of Trustees;
- Walter Gallati Microbiology Classroom (Kopchick 334), named in honor and memory of professor emeritus Dr. Gallati for his significant contributions to the university and longtime service to the community;
- Walt Granata Geological Sciences Classroom (Kopchick 206), named in memory of Dr. Granata “Doc G,” a founding member of the Department of Geoscience who acted as teacher, leader, and mentor to many, including IUP 1977 graduate Daniel G. Markey;
- Madia Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, and Engineering (Kopchick 118), Named in honor of Bill Madia, an IUP 1969 bachelor’s degree and 1971 master’s degree graduate, and Audrey DeLaquil Madia, an IUP 1970 graduate, for their respect for the power of education, their generosity, and their service; Bill Madia is a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient;
- The Admiral’s Study (Kopchick 414), named in honor of Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and retired Rear Admiral CJ Jaynes, a 1979 bachelor’s degree graduate and 1982 master’s graduate, for her career achievements, naval service awards, and generosity; and
- The Dr. Deanne L. Snavely Dean’s Suite (Kopchick 212), named in honor of Dean Emerita Snavely for her passion, dedication, and inspirational leadership of students and faculty.
IUP raised $9.7 million for the building construction in addition to Public Improvement Project Capital Facilities funding provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The announcement of the additional funding efforts was made at the 2018 Celebration of Philanthropy event upon the news of an additional $2 million to the $5 million already given by the Cejkas.