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 SRU to Dedicate Restored Paul and Carolyn Carruth Rizza Hall Aug. 22 




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


           SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Originally built in 1900 as a state-of-the-art Model School, Slippery Rock University has restored and modernized the campus landmark it will dedicate as Paul and Carolyn Carruth Rizza Hall in ceremonies Aug. 22. The event will include remarks from the building’s namesakes, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor Judy Hample and SRU’s Interim President Dr. Robert Smith.

          Also participating in the 4 p.m. ceremony will be Jeff Milliner, president of the SRU Student Government Association, and Dr. Robert Watson, vice president for student life, will provide a historic view of the facility. The campus landmark, formerly known as “West Hall” and operated for years as a joint project by the university and the Slippery Rock School System, will officially open with the start of fall semester classes on Aug. 25.

          A generous gift of $2.5 million from Mrs. Ethel Carruth enabled the massive restoration project. Mrs. Carruth of Houston, Texas, is mother-in-law and mother to the building’s new namesakes who are retired SRU faculty. Her gift is the largest ever to SRU and third largest in the state system. Mrs. Carruth also serves as honorary chair of “The Campaign for Slippery Rock University,” a 10-year capital campaign raising $33 million to support university projects, programs and scholarships.

          The Rizzas are professors emeritus at SRU having 52 years of combined service. Dr. Paul Rizza, who retired in 1998, was a professor of geography and environmental studies, and Dr. Carolyn Rizza, who retired in 1999, was a professor of sociology, anthropology and social work. Both remain active in the university, the community and the region.

          “The dedication is being held to give faculty, staff, students and the community a chance to see the renovations,” explains President Smith, noting a special open house is being planned for later in the year for those who attended classes in the “Model School” when it was part of the local school system. “We know the campus as well as former students will be impressed with the restoration work that included refurbishing the building’s original woodwork and floorboards, and re-opening the long-closed, glass-ceiling atrium to create a showcase building for students,” he adds.

          The restored building will serve as the home for the department of modern languages and cultures and include a state-of-the-art language laboratory, as well as the Office of International Initiatives. A fountain in memory of Allen H. “Buddy” Carruth, Mrs. Carruth’s late husband, will mark his career as an entrepreneur, businessman and noted philanthropist. Mr. Carruth was managing partner of the John L. Wortham and Son Insurance Co. and served on the board of directors of American General Corp. in Houston, Texas.

          The building now includes fiber optics and computer lines co-existing with original floorboards, window moldings, a glass ceiling and sky-lit atrium. Electrical, plumbing and heating and air-conditioning systems have also been upgraded. New windows and a large entrance portico facing Maltby Avenue were also included.

    As a Model School, the facility originally served as Slippery Rock’s school building and as a training school for those studying to be teachers at Slippery Rock Normal School, today’s Slippery Rock University. Built at a cost of $27,000, the two-story, buff brick building served elementary through high school students in the Slippery Rock area  while providing opportunities for those studying to be teachers to both observe and undertake student-teaching responsibilities as was the custom of the day. When a Laboratory School, now SRU’s McKay Education Building, was built, the Model School facility became another university classroom building.

Editor’s Note: We are arranging for early access to the building for photo opportunities on Aug. 19 or Aug. 20 and will have someone who attended classes in the “Model School” available for comment. Call 724-738-2199.


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