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IUP dedicates last of 8 buildings in huge Residential Revival project

Just over four years ago, wrecking crews arrived at Indiana University of Pennsylvania to begin knocking down outdated dormitories to pave the way for new residence halls.

On Friday, the university community celebrated the completion of the $245 million Residential Revival project, which replaced 11 residence halls with eight modern suite-style buildings that embrace a new "living-learning" philosophy.

Officials from IUP and the Foundation for IUP, a nonprofit entity which owns the residence halls, gathered for a dedication ceremony for the final building, Andrew W. Stephenson Hall.

"It has been an astounding renaissance for student life at IUP," said Terry Carter, vice president for university relations. "It's remarkable. It is history-making. It has served as a model nationally for other universities to replicate."

The project was accomplished in four phases, which began in 2006. Old-style dormitories were torn down and new suites rose in their place.

IUP Interim President Dr. David Werner had worked at the university during the 2007-08 school year. He said when he left in June 2008, demolition was under way in the third phase and buildings were in rubble.

Werner said when he and his wife returned to the campus this summer, they were amazed.

"It was an astonishing change to this campus, and we could only say, 'Wow,' and wow is the perfect word to sum up what has happened here at IUP," Werner said.

While most of IUP's old residence halls were demolished, some remain. Whitmyre Hall, a living-learning community that is home to the Robert E. Cook Honors College, and University Towers, an apartment-style building for upperclassmen, were not part of the project. Two traditional residence halls, McCarthy and Elkin halls, continue to house students.

More than 3,500 of the 4,300 students living on campus reside in the new halls.

Each of the new residence-hall buildings reflects an academic theme. In most, students with common interests or those majoring in specific areas are clustered together. The buildings house university offices on their main floors.

Andrew W. Stephenson Hall houses students with interest in business and information technology. It is named for a 1972 graduate of IUP, an attorney who practices in the area of construction and labor law.

Stephenson was honored because of his dedication to the Residential Revival project as a member of the Foundation for IUP board of directors.

Stephenson was credited for guiding the final phase through daunting financing issues. Previous lines of financing had dried up due to the economic recession, but Carter said Stephenson was able to find ways around it.

"We wouldn't have gotten this last phase finished were it not for the local banks who came to our rescue," Stephenson said.

He said he wanted to dedicate the building to every journeyman or apprentice who worked on the construction. "Their sweat is in this building," he said. "I just have sweat equity in it, but they built it."

Stephenson said throughout construction, the planning team had in place "off-ramps" where they could quit if things weren't falling into place. They never needed that.

"Instead of calling this place Stephenson, you could call it home, because that's the place you get to when all the off-ramps are in the rearview mirror," he said.

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