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 SRU Trustees Recognize Dedication of Trustee in Naming Conference Room; Salute Retiring VP 




Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail:



      SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. –  The Slippery Rock University Council of Trustees honored one of its own today for his outstanding service and philanthropy by naming the Dr. Robert Marcus Executive Conference Room in Old Main, the campus administration building, as a lasting reminder of his dedication to the university.

     Action came in passage of a resolution during council’s regular quarterly meeting honoring Dr. Robert Marcus, a council member, former council chair and a 1961 SRU graduate.

     The recently completed conference space, on the first floor of Old Main, is a state-of-the-art meeting room equipped with the latest in technology and capable of big-screen presentations. The conference center, located in the northwest corner of the 100+-year-old building, offers a 20-seat conference table with additional space for staff. It is electronically linked to the Internet allowing for distance-conference participation. A small galley kitchen allows the room to be used for special events. Marcus’ picture and the naming resolution have been mounted in the room.

     Marcus, a business and education leader in the Harrisburg area and across the state, has long been active in SRU activities.

     “Your generosity, leadership and friendship are deeply appreciated,” said SRU President Robert Smith in speaking of Dr. Marcus’s contributions to the university. “As an alumnus, member of the council of trustees, former chair of the council and the 2005 recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award, you are recognized and respected. We thank you for  your support and leadership.”

     Marcus, who makes his home in Harrisburg, served more than 34 years as a teacher and administrator in the Harrisburg School District before retiring in 1995. He has served as an SRU trustee since 1999, including terms as  chair. Under his leadership, SRU selected Smith as president, broke ground for the new $14.5 million Advanced Science and Technology Hall set to open this spring, and undertook the $110-million residence hall replacement project slated for fall opening. He has been instrumental in the university’s commitment to become one of the nation’s top residential campuses. For more than 40 years he has been president of the family business, Marcus Bonding, headquartered in Harrisburg where he makes his home with his wife, Eileen, a former SRU student and retired Harrisburg School System librarian.

     In addition, Marcus supports two scholarships designed to help students from the Harrisburg area attend SRU.

     He earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education at SRU where he played soccer – and was named an All American, playing in the North/South Game and the All-America Game -- and has remained a team supporter. He later earned his master’s degree in counseling at Shippensburg University, in administration from Western Maryland University and his doctor of education degree from Nova University. He is active in his home community, including 10 year service as president of the Susquehanna Township Board of School District and as a commissioner for Susquehanna Township. He was a founder and first commissioner of the Slow Pitch Softball Association of Central Pennsylvania and founded the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Central Pennsylvania.

      In offering his thanks to the council, Marcus said, “I have found it a unique experience meeting and working with my fellow trustees. It is a wonderful honor to have a room named for me, an honor that will go beyond my lifetime.” Marcus credited his SRU experience, adding, “The Rock gave me the opportunity as a student to find and achieve success in the classroom and in sports. I has been very gratifying.”

     In his report to trustees, President Smith pointed out the university remains on track with its primary goals, including continued enhancement of the value of a SRU degree, continued improvement of campus diversity, establishment of financial stability, and providing a premier residential campus.

     In specifics, he pointed to the recent academic reaffirmation of SRU’s social work program, the recommended reaccredidation of the SRU dance program, and the anticipated recertification of all College of Education programs by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Smith commented, “I think we should be particularly proud that the [education evaluation] team applauded our ‘faculty to be caring and concerned about student progress.’”

     The president told trustees minority enrollment and minority and female hiring have increased, and he pointed out the $100-million, student housing project, providing apartment-like living, continues ahead of schedule. Smith reported the Campaign for Slippery Rock University had reached 64 percent of its goal.

     While applications continued to run ahead of last year, Smith said, “We are anticipating holding our enrollment increase to a 1 percent growth as a result of limited space and resources.” He pointed out African-American applications are up 41 percent and transfer student applications are up 33 percent over a year ago.

     The board was presented a comprehensive planning report for the proposed new University Union prepared by WTW Architects of Pittsburgh. The report defines the vision for a vibrant, new Campus Life Center, with approximately 170,000 square feet of service area. Plans call for the building to be the central core of campus (located on area now occupied by Dodds Hall and Boozel Dining Hall). The center will include public event spaces, retail and dining amenities, new suites for student organizations, a student activities theater and an expanded bookstore. Initial plans call for the building to be linked with the new residence halls under construction forging a new crossroads for student life. The report was prepared after extensive interviews with students, faculty and staff, a comparison with peer schools and a campuswide survey.

      Council also approved a resolution to formally name two new campus buildings. The first action, taken in conjunction with the board of directors of the Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc., names Building C, housing honors students, in the new $110-million residence hall complex Robert J. Watson Hall in honor of the soon-to-retire Dr. Robert J. Watson, SRU graduate and 34-year SRU administrator. The hall will house honors/education students.

Watson retires March 31 having served with dedication and generosity since 1972. He is a fourth generation family member instrumental in the founding and development of the university. He is the author of the university’s history “Slippery Rock State College: The Legend Behind the Name” and has long been involved in linking the university with the community. He was named vice president for student life in 2001 and was instrumental in creating the Watson Family Scholarship at SRU. The apartment-like living residence hall will open in time for fall classes.

      The Advanced Technology and Science Hall will open this spring following naming approval by council. The, $14.5 million 76,000-square-foot, three-story structure will become the home for the departments of physics, chemistry, geology, geography and computer science. The facility will offer some 20 science teaching and research laboratories; computer labs; a showcase, 250-seat auditorium; “smart classrooms;” study lounges; and faculty offices all wired for Internet access and multimedia display.

     The building will include the Snyder Family Lobby following a $250,000 commitment from the Snyder Charitable Foundation based in Kittanning. The foundation manages the charitable resources of Snyder Associated Companies, Inc., the holding company for a number of related businesses, including Allegheny Mineral Corp., operating in Slippery Rock and nearby Harrisville. A resolution renaming Rocket Drive to Rock Pride Drive and renaming Rocket Way to Green and White Way on campus was also approved.

      In housekeeping matters, trustees approved a resolution bringing the campus into compliance with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board of governors policy 1985-04-A stating publicly that the university regularly receives financial contributions from the Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc., and the Slippery Rock University Alumni Association.

           Trustees agreed to submit the 2007 Capitol Budget Request to the state system board of governors seeking two major projects, $31.6 million for a new Performing Arts Center and $14.6 million for renovations to Morrow Field House.

     Approval was given to a fee structure for on-campus food service dining services increasing the price by 3.21 percent for the coming year. Those purchasing a 19-meal plan, including $50 in flex funds, will pay $1,146 beginning fall semester, up $36. Various other meal plan options hold in the 3.2 percent increase range. In related action, trustees increased the university-owned residence halls housing fee across the board by 5 percent for the coming year. The double room rate for 2006 will be $1,411. (Those in air-conditioned halls pay slightly more.)

     Trustees accepted the submitted reports for contracts, fixed assets and service and supply purchase orders. In informational items, council was told of 23 faculty hirings and 17 other appointments.

     In addition to Watson’s retirement, trustees were told of retirement plans for Anne Dayton, 26-year assistant professor of English, Dr. Diana Dreyer, 26-year professor of English, and Nancy Vierthaler, clerk typist in political science since 1998. Professor emeritus status has been granted to Dr. James Hughes, a professor of geography, geology and the environment, who retired in 2005 after 34 years of service.

     Council’s next regularly scheduled, quarterly session is set for 1:30 p.m. June 9.




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