Seton Hill names health science center for President Emerita JoAnne Boyle

| Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, 12:33 p.m.

Seton Hill University officials have named the new health sciences center in honor of one of their own.

During a ceremony Monday on the Greensburg campus, Michele Ridge, chairwoman of the board of trustees and former Pennsylvania First Lady, said the center will be named for university President Emerita JoAnne Boyle.

Ridge made the announcement before more than 200 university officials and students, Westmoreland County elected leaders and Greensburg dignitaries, who sat under a tent a few feet from the construction site.

The JoAnne Woodyard Boyle Health Sciences Center will serve students and faculty in the university's division of Natural and Health Sciences.

“We know the naming of this facility for JoAnne will honor her enduring legacy in a powerful way,” Ridge said.

Boyle, who is in ill health, watched the 45-minute ceremony through a live video stream.

She was president of the university for 25 years, retiring in June, and was a former English professor. She led the university in its transformation from an all-women's college to a coeducational Catholic university with an enrollment of nearly 2,500.

Boyle helped inspire the establishment of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine on the campus, the physician assistant program and the Center for Orthodontics, Ridge said.

“No other building represents better JoAnne Boyle's vision for educating health care workers and physicians,” Ridge said.

The former president's son, John Boyle, who spoke for the Boyle family during the ceremony, later described his mother as “excited, honored and humbled.”

Rather than shovels, university officials used a scientific experiment to signify the groundbreaking. Boyle's family members poured liquid from beakers into papier-maché volcanoes that spewed forth the university's colors of crimson and gold.

“This is an exciting day, despite the clouds,” interim President Bibiana Boerio said, noting the dark skies that let loose only a few drops of rain.

The health sciences “represent some of Seton Hill's strongest academic programs,” and the new center will “help Seton Hill to ascend to a new era of distinction,” Boerio added.

More than 500 students and more than 35 percent of the freshman class are involved in Seton Hill's pre-med, physician assistant, biology, chemistry and dietetics and nutrition programs, university officials said.

The center is part of the university's long-term expansion plans and will add nearly 60,000 square feet of learning space. The center is proposed to connect with an existing science building in Lynch Hall.

Costs are estimated at $21.5 million for the center and accompanying renovations to Lynch Hall. The four-story center will link to Lynch Hall on two levels. The building's appearance will match the existing science hall and feature a cylindrical glass atrium.

The building will house examination rooms, classrooms, laboratories and offices.

The project was kick-started by a $7 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the largest gift in the school's history. The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation has pledged $1.5 million, and an anonymous donor has earmarked $750,000.

Construction is expected to be completed in late 2015.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

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