YORK, Pa. — Excitement is mounting across campus at Penn State York, as the much-awaited grand opening of the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center (The Ruhl Center) is set for noon on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The ceremony will take place in the new plaza area behind the John J. Romano Administration Building and The Ruhl Center, and is open to students, faculty, staff and invited guests. The building is opening after a $13.5 million renovation and addition. The Ruhl Center is the heart of student activities and athletic events on campus. The original student center first opened in 1968.
“Penn State York has anticipated the re-opening of this new hub of our commuter campus for some time,” said David W. Chown, chancellor of Penn State York. “Every bit of this improved facility is bright, attractive, well-lit, modern, and inviting.”
The grand opening ceremony will begin at 12:15 p.m. with brief comments from Chown; Holly Gumke, director of business services; Jennifer Nesbitt, associate professor of English; Patrick Tanner, director of student engagement; and Michelle Lin, Student Government Association president. Following the speeches, the doors will open and those in attendance can tour the building and experience a variety of activities taking place throughout the facility.
Penn State York’s Lion Ambassadors will be stationed around the building to share information about the student center. Entertainment will be provided by the Baby Blue Band (a Penn State York club) outside at the opening ceremony and inside the Community Room; the Electronic Dance Music Club will play music in the newly renovated food service facility, which will be open to buy lunch; and free Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream will be served on the patio.
The current 35,000-square-foot student center was built when there were 259 students enrolled at the campus. In the fall of 2015, 47 years later, about 1,100 students use that same facility on a regular basis. Current students will have the distinction of being the first to enjoy the new facility.
The more than 28,000-square-foot project includes much-needed kinesiology, intramural and athletic spaces in the form of a multi-activity court. This space will also allow for off-season athletic team practice for sports such as baseball, soccer, women’s softball, and intramural activities, as well as badminton and ballroom dancing. In addition, a group fitness room, for classes such as yoga and spinning, is included. The project adds about 14,000 square feet to the building, an increase of 38 percent in size.
In addition to the other upgrades to the existing building, the campus dining area received a facelift, which was completed previously but remained closed during the building renovation process. The kitchen and food service area, formerly known as the Lion’s Den, will reopen as Rosie’s, and the new coffee bar included in the renovated space will be called Cup O’ Joe, named after the late Joe and Rosie Ruhl, who were huge supporters of the campus and whose names appear on the building.
The existing gymnasium, which opened in the fall of 1970, has been refurbished and reflects the Penn State pride that is part of campus athletics. Other upgrades and renovations include an elevator and entrance with a vestibule, new bathrooms, a game room, kinesiology classrooms, the addition of student services offices, multiple locker rooms, a concession stand area, and consolidated, updated and efficient HVAC systems.
“The new design provides students, faculty, and staff with new experiences and improves their enjoyment of activities that continue from years past. The old and the new are seamlessly combined, and the building exhibits a flair that is uniquely that of Penn State York,” said Chown. “Everything — offices, meeting spaces, artwork, dining facilities, classrooms, athletic space, fitness space, and recreational space — is vastly improved and will serve the campus quite well for many years to come.”