Board committee recommends new name for Beaver Community Center

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of the renovation and expansion to the Penn State Berks community center, the Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning has recommended for full board consideration the renaming of the facility from the “Beaver Community Center” to the “Beaver Athletics and Wellness Center.” 

Penn State Berks is undertaking a $30.4 million renovation and expansion effort to transform the center into the new Beaver Athletics and Wellness Center. The project is designed to address space inadequacies to support current and future programs offered to students, particularly within kinesiology, which is the second largest major at the campus. The project also will support the campus’s membership in NCAA Division III competition in 12 sports, including men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, which compete in the center. For these teams as well as a host of intramural and club sports, the expanded Beaver Athletics and Wellness Center will provide a stronger foundation for student-athletes’ competitive success.

“We are committed to providing our students with an excellent, well-rounded college experience, and we recognize that the quality of our facilities is a crucial component in that experience,” said Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk. “As our sole indoor athletic and physical recreation facility and the home of the kinesiology degree program – one of our most popular majors – the Beaver Center has a remarkably broad impact on our student population. Our planned renovations will more than double the space in the building and upgrade the center to a first-rate athletic and educational complex.” 

Building onto the existing structure, the project will modernize and reorganize the interior spaces, and construct an enclosed walkway connecting it to the Perkins Student Center, to which new rooms also will be added. This will double the available space and have significant impact in three main areas: 

– Academics: Both teaching and research in kinesiology will be supported by two new flexible-use classrooms, an exercise physiology lab, a biomechanics lab and faculty offices. 

– Athletics: Athletics programs will benefit from a new athletic trainers’ room complete with a state-of-the-art treatment and rehabilitation space, a hydrotherapy room, additional locker rooms, and coaches’ offices. 

– Recreation and wellness: The broader student body will enjoy a much larger and better-equipped fitness center and an auxiliary gymnasium that will increase accessibility for intramural and club teams and other students. 

Central air-conditioning and aesthetic enhancements will make the building a far more attractive and usable space. A second floor also will be added to the south portion of the Perkins Student Center, which will include a convenience store. 

“Together, these two facilities — now physically connected — will become the hub for student activity on campus and a declaration to prospective students that Berks campus is committed to offering a complete Penn State experience,” said Hillkirk. “This project represents a shared commitment on the part of the University and Berks campus, the Berks student body – who have committed $5 million from the student-initiated fees – and Housing and Food Services, which has committed $2 million.”

The original Beaver Community Center is named for the late Howard O. “Mike” Beaver Jr., who graduated from Penn State with a bachelor of science degree in metallurgy and went on to serve as president and CEO of Carpenter Technology. Beaver chaired the Berks Campus Capital Campaign, which raised funds for the construction of the center. The facility opened in 1979, supported entirely by private contributions. He served 12 years on the Penn State Board of Trustees and was named a trustee emeritus in 1992. Beaver passed away in 2008.

Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, with offices in Philadelphia and Santa Fe, New Mexico, was approved as the lead architectural firm by the Board of Trustees in September 2018. The firm is partnering with Hastings & Chivetta Architects of St. Louis, Missouri, on the project.

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