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Alvernia rededicates Francis Hall

Date: 9/22/2011

Following major renovations, Alvernia University rededicated and blessed it’s most historic building, Francis Hall on Wed., Sept. 21. The current project transforms the space — inside and out — and includes creation of a contemporary entryway and foyer that provides access to the Theater and Recital Hall as well as a new art gallery, music studios, and recital spaces. In addition, a dramatically terraced student plaza graces the exterior with a water feature and patio.

The project included creation of the 640 square foot Miller Gallery, named after local arts supporters, Marlin and Regina Miller. The Miller Gallery’s first exhibit, “The Beauty of Berks” will be on display through November.

“Our venerable “old Main” now features a beautiful new entry plaza and courtyard, rehearsal spaces for our music program, the new Miller Gallery, and adjoining lobby,” said Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn, Ph.D.

Renovation of the third floor was also part of the effort that added a fine and performing arts suite and new offices. The historic building, which once represented the entirety of Alvernia College, is now a striking gateway to a beautiful and vibrant university — one of which the university’s Bernardine foundresses scarcely could have imagined when they opened its doors over 50 years ago.
“The Francis Hall Renovation and Restoration project is a key component of the Values and Vision Capital Campaign and although our progress has been impressive, much work remains if we are to live up to our heightened expectations to become a truly distinctive Franciscan University,” said Mike Pressimone, Alvernia’s Vice President of Advancement. “That includes continued strengthening of academic programs, expanded scholarship opportunities, enhanced campus services and development of state of the art learning facilities.”
Francis Hall first opened its doors in 1926 as an educational facility for thousands of orphans and young women. It served as the only building on Alvernia’s campus for its first eight years. As the university entered the 21st Century it became necessary to renovate Francis Hall to accommodate a burgeoning student body, expansion of the arts, and the Arts at Alvernia program. Renovations also addressed accessibility issues. In 2010, Francis Hall’s auditorium was transformed into a working theater space. At that time, a new elevator and restrooms were also installed.

The dedication and blessing was concluded with a performance from the Alvernia dance team and a special theatrical performance of Thornton Wilder’s one-act play “Someone from Assisi.”

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.