SRU Leadership Tower redesign enhances participation


fix the tower

July 9, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - One less obstacle. Slippery Rock University students, faculty, staff and visitors who previously weren't able to utilize the 35-foot climbing tower at the Leadership Development training Center have one less obstacle to overcome. The University has installed 200 new handholds on the north and south climbing walls to meet the needs of more climbers.

The hand holds can be removed and spaced at different intervals on the side of the tower to ease or toughen a climb depending on the difficulty level, said Erin Strain, director of SRU's Leadership Development Center.

The old hand holds were fixed in one position and harder to grasp, preventing inexperienced climbers from succeeding in the climbing exercises. SRU is also staining the tower, which students, ROTC and other groups use for climbing and repelling exercises. The tower anchors SRU's Leadership Development Center, which offers experiential education and training through workshops and academic leadership labs.

Strain said the redesign of the tower, located near the Ski Lodge, would be completed by early August.

erin strain


The new configuration, Strain said, would enable participants of varied skill levels to challenge themselves, broadening their leadership learning.

"When you are able to start reaching for one hand hold after another, one feels a sense of accomplishment," she said. "It is like, 'Wow, I can do this.' Your self confidence has increased."

Strain said the new hand holds slip into flat-faced, metal holders that are fastened to the wooden tower. The handholds at the bottom of the tower will be pulled out when not in used to prevent random, unsupervised climbing.

"One of the purposes of the tower is to provide a challenge of choice, in a safe area, but also to have success," Strain said. "The old hand holds were more minimal in terms of who could use them. We're redesigning so we have options to make it a little easier or a little harder."

SRU's Leadership Development Center provides workshops and outdoor training to help professors and students enhance classroom learning with experiential experience. Participants study effective leadership, team building and other concepts that can be applied to business and other careers.

First-year students use the facility as an icebreaker.

"Students come here. They feel awkward. They really haven't had time to feel connected," Strain said. "After using the Leadership Development Center, they walk away knowing their classmates' names, the have made a best friend and they feel more comfortable at SRU."

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |