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Chatham gets $15M by Falk Foundation to help build Richland facility

| Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 11:56 p.m.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Visitors climb the steps towhat will be the Dairy Barn Cafe while getting a tour of Chatham University's new Eden Hall Campus Thursday October 10, 2013 in Richland Township.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Antonio Pares (center), an architect with Mithun, describes the details of Chatham University's new Eden Hall Campus on Thursday, October 10, 2013, in Richland from inside what will be the Dairy Barn Cafe.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The Eco Barn on Chatham University's new Eden Hall Campus Thursday October 10, 2013 in Richland
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Sigo Falk, chairman of the Falk Foundation speaks Thursday October 10, 2013 during a press conference at Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus in Richland Township.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The Hilda M. Willis Amphitheatre (foreground) and the Dairy Barn Cafe (top left) at Chatham University's new Eden Hall Campus Thursday October 10, 2013 in Richland Township.

Chatham University has received the largest single donation in its 144-year history — $15 million — from the Falk Foundation for a campus being built in Richland.

The Eden Hall Campus under construction on a 388-acre farm that the university obtained in 2008 will be the nation's first environmentally self-sustaining campus, which means it will produce more energy than it uses and have natural, on-site stormwater and wastewater management systems, according to university officials.

Chatham President Esther Barazzone was elated to announce the grant during an open house at the new campus on Ridge Road.

“For more than 50 years, Chatham University and the Falk Foundation have shared a deep commitment to addressing some of the most challenging issues of our time,” Barazzone said. “It is this long-standing relationship and history that makes Chatham so very, very moved.”

The university's School of Sustainability & the Environment, which will be housed at the Eden Hall campus, will be renamed the Falk School of Sustainability. The money will be used to fund academic programs at the campus, establish the Falk Sustainability Endowment and defray construction costs.

The first phase of the Eden Hall Campus project — which includes underground water and energy systems, field labs, an amphitheater and a cafe built in a former dairy barn — is slated for completion by the end of November, said Bill Campbell, a university spokesman.

Phase 2 will include a dining hall and a residence hall for 150 students. Work will begin in the spring. The university has raised the $40 million it needs for the first two phases of the project, Campbell said.

Work on the final phase is scheduled to begin in spring 2016 and will include an EcoCenter that houses classrooms, a theater and events space. The university is raising the $50 million it needs to complete that work, Campbell said.

The Eden Hall site is being used for graduate students earning degrees in food studies and sustainability. An undergraduate sustainability program will be added next year.

Chatham has nearly 2,200 students. The campus will allow for an additional 1,500 students. Between 2007 and 2012, Chatham's total enrollment has increased 16.5 percent, Campbell said.

In addition to being the prime site for the university's sustainability programs, Eden Hall will be used for traditional programs such as business and nursing, Campbell said.

“Our Shadyside campus is landlocked, so it really can't grow,” he said. “The new campus not only makes sense for us in terms of providing a living laboratory for the sustainablity program, it also will allow us to expand our offerings in the fast-growing areas north of Pittsburgh.”

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