Tippin Gym “Groundbreaking” Takes Place on Stage At Marwick-Boyd

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – The official “groundbreaking” of the Tippin Gym Renovation Project took place on the stage at Marwick-Boyd Auditorium Friday with, a few weeks after actual construction on the long-awaited project started.

(Photo: Members of the Clarion University community put their shovels into the ceremonial dirt on the stage at Marwick-Boyd Auditorium Friday symbolizing the groundbreaking of the Tippin Gym Renovation Project. Photo by Jared Bakaysa)

Members of both the Clarion University and Clarion Borough communities joined together to celebrate the start of the project even “digging” into “ceremonial” dirt that was placed on the stage of Marwick-Boyd – the original plan was to have the groundbreaking outside but the threat of dreary weather – it did end up being sunny at the time of the ceremony – forced activities to be moved inside.

“This is a day-long waited for,” said Clarion University Vice-President of University Advancement and the master of ceremonies Jim Geiger. Geiger joked that he asked if the ceremony should be delayed so it could be held outdoors but said he would be fired if it was delayed any further.

The long wait Geiger was referring two lasted nearly two decades since the money for the $42.7 million project was first requested in 1999 or before – an exact date is hard to find – and a decade since the Pennsylvania Legislature approved the project in 2008 – the formal request for that money came in 2011.

Members of the Clarion University Council of Trustees do a ceremonial shoveling of dirt. From left: Milissa Bauer, Donna Oberlander, R. Lee James, Joy Dunbar, Neil Weaver and Jim Kifer. Photo by Jared Bakaysa

Members of the Clarion University Council of Trustees do a ceremonial shoveling of dirt. From left: Milissa Bauer, Donna Oberlander, R. Lee James, Joy Dunbar, Neil Weaver and Jim Kifer. Photo by Jared Bakaysa.

That wait, but also the importance of the project, was a theme of many of the speakers at the event, who included Clarion University Interim President Peter Fackler; Clarion University Council of Trustees Chairperson Joy “JD” Dunbar; former Clarion University President and current Interim Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Karen Whitney; State Representative and Council of Trustees member Donna Oberlander; Clarion Mayor Daniel Parker; Clarion University Athletic Director Wendy Snodgrass; and Clarion University athlete and Vice-President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Cameron Butler.

“As I thought about today and reflected on what this moment means, I had a saying that kept coming back to me over and over and over again,” Snodgrass said. “It was, ‘good things come to those who wait.’ And boy, we waited a long time for this. With that, though, great things are coming. I am unbelievably thrilled and so excited about what is going on across the street (at Tippin Gym). The moment we saw the (construction) fence go up, I think you could probably hear the cheers from the staff and all of the student-athletes that were all in Ralston (Hall) come down when we saw that fence go up. It has been great.”

Watch Snodgrass’ full comments.

Whitney said she first heard that the project was going to break ground in 2010.

“All we are left with is a sense of humor,” Whitney said of the many delays, which she blamed on state regulations, something, as interim chancellor, she is fighting to do away with. “This (day) is a true joy.”

Whitney said many people at the university spent thousands of hours working through the state bureaucratic process to make the project a reality.

Clarion University Athletic Director Wendy Snodgrass (center) was joined outside of Tippin Gym by current student-athletes to break ground. Photo by Jared Bakaysa

Clarion University Athletic Director Wendy Snodgrass (center) was joined outside of Tippin Gym by current student-athletes to break ground. Photo by Jared Bakaysa.

“We are thankful for the money from the legislature,” Whitney said. “But, we need to get out from under all of the state regulations and oversight that kept this building from happening for so long. We are working towards that with a bill in the state legislature right now.”

Whitney deemed the project a “tremendous” project for not only the university but for the entire area.

“It’s not just a gym,” Whitney said. “It’s a pole in a pole barn to support the dreams of the community. It is a place of coming together for the community.”

Mayor Parker, while saying it felt like this day would never come, also said it is an exciting time for both the university and the borough.

“There is an excitement and energy in the air the just crackles,” Parker said. “We have the new Suites on Main, we have the renovation of Tippin, we have the work the borough is planning on doing on Main Street and so much more. It is just an exciting time.”

Oberlander called Tippin Gym a gateway to the university.

“This is how people enter our campus,” Oberlander said. “This is how they find out about who Clarion is, how awesome it is. This is a new chapter in a very exciting time for Clarion University.”

Watch Oberlander’s full comments.

Fackler said the groundbreaking coming at the end of Clarion University’s 150th year seemed fitting.

“Just think, here we are as Clarion’s 150th year draws to a close celebrating a project that I think symbolizes our collective optimism for the future, for the next 150 years, if you will,” Fackler said. “Even as the university’s proud past gives us a well-deserved sense of accomplishment, we have confidence that our university’s best years are surely yet to come.”

Watch Fackler’s full comments.

Dunbar reflected on Tippin Gyms past and the number of student-athletes and students who went through its halls.

“There were lots of students who would stand by Tippin and feel awestruck, so happy that they picked Clarion University because this university invested in its students as evidenced by the building,” Dunbar said. “We know there was a point when Tippin was glorious. We celebrate those years of glory just as we celebrate our groundbreaking.”

Clarion University Interim President Peter Fackler (left) and Athletic Director Wendy Snodgrass outside Tippin Gym. Photo by Jared Bakaysa

Clarion University Interim President Peter Fackler (left) and Athletic Director Wendy Snodgrass outside Tippin Gym. Photo by Jared Bakaysa.

Butler, representing the student-athletes, thanked everyone involved who put together the project.

“This renovation demonstrates the university’s and the state of Pennsylvania’s commitment to the overall student-athlete experience and the athletic department,” Butler said.

Watch Butler’s full comments.

See related story: Completion Date For Tippin Gym Renovation Targeted for September 4, 2019


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