Individual donors and partner organizations are propelling WCU students to greater success. Discover the latest happenings from across our Foundation’s initiatives.
West Chester University's 'INCOMPARABLE' Golden Rams Marching Band Selected to perform in the 2024 Rose Parade®
The West Chester University “INCOMPARABLE” Golden Rams Marching Band will again represent West Chester University and the greater Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) on the international stage when they become the first marching band within the PASSHE system to march in the iconic 135th Rose Parade® presented by Honda on Monday, January 1, 2024. An annual tradition for more than 130 years, the Rose Parade has a television viewership of over 25 million people and a live attendance of about 700,000.
Each year, the Tournament of Roses Association® selects a small number of bands from a large pool of international applicants to perform in the Rose Parade that precedes college football’s Rose Bowl Game® in Pasadena, California. The competitive Rose Parade selection process uses a variety of criteria for invited participants that includes musicianship, marching ability and entertainment or special interest value. It is less common for a University band to be selected, save for the two marching bands representing the two Rose Bowl Game football teams.
“As a renowned musical legacy, the INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band continues to be a distinctive element at West Chester University and one that brings a great deal of pride to the entire community,” says West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. “Hailing from all disciplines and majors, 350 students juggle the academic rigor of the University with a demanding practice schedule. These outstanding students deserve this coveted opportunity, and we are thrilled that they will bring worldwide recognition to West Chester University, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
To fund travel expenses for the band’s 350 members, West Chester University launched the “RamBand Road to the Roses ‘24” initiative, which aims to raise $1 Million. Anchored by a $100,000 matching gift challenge from Dr. James Wells ’54 and Mr. Richard G. Wells ’58, who are both alumni and the namesakes for West Chester’s School of Music, the initiative invites donors to make a gift to be matched by March 10, 2023, which is West Chester University’s Charter Day of Giving. Gifts can be made at www.wcufoundation.org/ramband.
Dean of West Chester University’s Wells School of Music Christopher Hanning adds, “The INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band is the largest ensemble within West Chester University’s Wells School of Music. We kindly request the support of the entire University community, as well as the surrounding community and throughout Pennsylvania, so that the band’s 350-member ensemble can be seen and heard in its full majesty at the 2024 Rose Parade.”
Director of Athletic Bands Adam Gumble says, “Marching in the Rose Parade has been a longtime goal of the INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band. The highly competitive selection process means that only the world’s best marching bands are invited to perform. This recognition from the Tournament of Roses Association is yet another reminder that West Chester University’s marching band is truly INCOMPARABLE. We want to thank our students, alumni, faculty, staff and fans for their unyielding support of our program.”
The West Chester University INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band is a group of 300+ students that proudly represents West Chester University and the greater West Chester community. Comprised of students from more than 60 different majors, the marching band involves students from every segment of the campus population and is the largest student organization on campus. In addition to performing at local and regional parades and exhibitions, the “RamBand” has performed at prestigious events including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Nashville Christmas Parade, National Football League games, Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade, and Bands of America Regional and Grand National Championships! The West Chester University Golden Rams Marching Band has earned a national reputation as a leader in the marching arts and was named the recipient of the 2019 Sudler Trophy. The Sudler Trophy is presented biannually to a university marching band that demonstrates the highest standards of music performance, precision marching, and innovation in show design and is considered the “Heisman Trophy” for college marching bands. West Chester University is one of only 32 schools in the United States and the first NCAA Division II School to receive the award!
WCU Honors Military Scholars
The University held this year’s Military Scholarship Ceremony and Breakfast on November 12 at the WCU Alumni & Foundation Center Ballroom to celebrate ROTC cadet and veteran scholars. Among those present were the 28 students who were recognized with at least one of 21 scholarships awarded this year.
“West Chester University takes great pride in providing a quality education and supportive environment for our student veterans, military service members, reservists, and their families,” said WCU President Christopher Fiorentino.
He noted WCU’s longstanding commitment to military students and emphasized the growth of the Greg and Sandra Weisenstein Veterans Center and expansion of services in recent years under Director Lillian Morrison. The center works to create an intentional culture of understanding, acceptance, and success for veterans, active military, and those whose support them, in part by facilitating communication among campus offices with a coordinated system of service.
“Along with increased scholarship support and program funding, in 2019, due to support from Mrs. Eileen Reider Glenn, Class of ’69, M’99, we’ve established a dedicated counselor position specifically to support our student veterans,” added Fiorentino.
West Chester University is among only 282 universities nationwide that were selected for Gold award status on the Military Friendly Schools list for 2022-2023. The Gold designation recognizes schools for their leading practices, outcomes, and effective programs on behalf of veterans, military service members, reservists, and their families. This is the second year WCU has achieved Gold status. In addition, WCU is a Yellow Ribbon school committed to helping students pay for tuition and fees that are not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
For more information about WCU’s student veterans and the Veterans Center, visit https://www.wcupa.edu/veteransCenter/.
President's Circle Honorees Demonstrate Philanthropic Leadership at WCU
The President’s Circle comprises dedicated alumni, parents and family members, friends, faculty, staff, and community partners whose commitment to the University drives student success now and provides a strong foundation for the University’s future. President’s Circle members belong to three unique philanthropic leadership societies: the Carillon Society, the Heritage Society, and Community Partners.
“Each year, the President’s Circle Ceremony gives us the opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary individuals and community partners whose generosity is making direct, impactful differences in the lives of our students,” said WCU President Christopher Fiorentino. “Those who donate annually as members of our Carillon Society, have achieved lifetime giving milestones as members of our Heritage Society, or are recognized as President’s Award Honorees. Our students, and more than 124,000 of their graduated peers, are going to change the world, and these people help them get there.”
Deb Cornelius ’91, interim executive director of the WCU Foundation, added, “Our students make difficult choices every day on this campus: they juggle jobs, full course loads, and personal responsibilities – our donors know this. Their passion for the well-being of our students is reflected in their support of scholarships, educational opportunities, enhanced program experiences, and leading-edge technologies – they step up, and as many of us are fellow Golden Rams, we pay it forward, and help set our students up for success.”
The event honored the 2022 President’s Award Honorees: Carol L. Kashow ’77; Celia C. Esplugas, emerita professor of languages and cultures; John W. Ward, retired faculty; Scott W. Reid ’96; and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation.
Lorina Marshall-Blake is President of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation (the Foundation), a charitable, private foundation founded in 2011, and also Vice President of Community Affairs at Independence Blue Cross (Independence). In her role with the Foundation, she leads strategic, programmatic, and operational efforts to fulfill the Foundation’s mission to lead sustainable solutions that improve the health and wellness of the community. Under her leadership, the Foundation has established itself as a collaborator, innovator, and thought leader in addressing emerging health needs in southeastern Pennsylvania. As Vice President of Community Affairs, Marshall-Blake develops and manages relationships with community partners to advance Independence’s social mission efforts.
Marshall-Blake noted, “At our Foundation, we believe nurses are the glue for our healthcare system. With our support of nursing education, and our collaboration with nursing schools such as West Chester University, we’ve aimed to address not only a nursing shortage, but also the inequities that plague healthcare.”
Pictured with President Chris Fiorentino (L) and Sue Fiorentino (far R) are those who were honored with this year’s President’s Award (L-R): Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, a charitable, private foundation founded in 2011, and vice president of community affairs at Independence Blue Cross; Carol L. Kashow ’77; John W. Ward, retired faculty, and Celia C. Esplugas, emerita professor of languages and cultures; and Scott W. Reid ’96.
Ribbons, Ribbons, and Celebration
Our donors are the driving force behind these hallways and classrooms. Gifts to this building fueled 150Forward: The Campaign for WCU – they made the SECC and The Commons a reality for West Chester University.
On Thursday, September 15th, alumni donors and friends who have named spaces in the building gathered to experience firsthand the new technology, distinctive features, and academic enhancements now available to our students through student and faculty demonstrations in the Nutrition & Sensory Evaluation Lab, the Environmental Health Lab, and the Duey Centers for Science.
This is the heart of our campus now, a place where our students can access and harness the latest technology to drive their educational achievements; where they can come to enjoy a meal, collaborate with their peers, or find a quiet space to study; and where our alumni can gather to reminisce – and make new memories.
Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Held for the Largest Project & Most Complex Building in West Chester University's History
On Thursday, September 15, amid lots of purple & gold fanfare, the ribbon was officially cut to West Chester University’s 175,000-square-foot Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons (SECC), the largest project and most complex building in the University’s history. Among those doing the official ribbon-cutting honors outside of the SECC’s main lobby doors were West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino; Executive Vice President & Provost Laurie Bernotsky; Managing Partner of Duce Management and Former Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey; and WCU Alumni Association President Matthew Holliday ’09.
The SECC is a game-changer for West Chester University, which is the largest university within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, as it provides a living-learning environment for the next generation of scientists, physicists, engineers, nurses, nutritionists, and other critical-demand positions. In fact, the SECC has changed the entire learning landscape at WCU. Instead of asking how students can become ready for West Chester University, the University is asking how it can become ready for students; the SECC is the University’s response.
More About the SECC
The new three-story facility is home to the University’s rapidly growing health science curricula, physics, new biomedical engineering program, as well as expansive academic and support spaces. The state-of-the-art facility boasts:
- the Duey Immersive Learning Center, where high-tech mannequins mimic patients in a simulated hospital setting;
- an advanced Food Sensory Lab, where students are taught how the taste, smell and flavor of food/drink affect people’s food choices;
- roof-top garden beds, where Nutrition Department students grow vegetables that will be taken to the WCU Resource Pantry and other places within the community; and
- a Physics Forum on the third floor, where “Physics Teas” draw physics students and faculty to talk about classes, graduate school, and other topics.
There are also numerous collaborative spaces and alcoves peppered all over the facility. Active learning is encouraged through whiteboards that enable students to brainstorm and share concepts on the spot. Classrooms include flat-screen TV monitors and large-area writable wall surfaces to foster student-work groups; 16 of the classrooms feature video-web conferencing. In addition, dramatic “learning stairs” provide a stimulating hang-out space for students and a captivating floor-to-ceiling video wall highlights the University’s vibrant campus.
“Above all else, this building centers on what students need to learn to be hands-on and successful in critical-demand fields,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino.
Executive Vice President and Provost Laurie Bernotsky concurred. “In every meeting that the University had with architects, we stressed that we had enough buildings with podiums, desks and chairs,” she said. “We needed more collaborative spaces where the singular focus would be on engaging students actively in all aspects of learning throughout the facility.”
Recognizing that meaningful connections happen in a variety of settings, the facility also features The Commons — a welcoming and stimulating environment for students to gather, eat and work. The 800-seat residential dining facility encompasses more than 16,000 square feet of the building’s entire second floor. An intentional and progressive design encourages students to use the facility as a third space and an exciting location to meet, get a healthy meal between classes, and engage in other formative, non-academic activities.
In addition to serving students’ academic and co-curricular needs, the building also includes an adjacent 162,000-square-foot parking garage, which includes 462 parking spaces. While total costs for the SECC have not been finalized, it is estimated that the project will total more than $130 million. The SECC is the largest building construction project ever undertaken within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
SECC Project Benefactors
The three-story facility has been built with the support of two critical leadership gifts. Managing Partner of Duce Management and Former Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey, also an adjunct professor at the University teaching in the Marketing Department and the Pharmaceutical Product Development Program, in association with the Duey family, made a generous gift of $1 million toward the important project.
Student Services, Incorporated (SSI), also made a generous gift of $1 million to the project, thanks to Student Services, Incorporated Chair of the Board of Directors Bernie Carrozza ‘66. Student Services, Incorporated is a not-for-profit organization designed to serve the students of West Chester University. SSI is committed to WCU students and stands ready to ensure that they have whatever they need to meet their academic goals. The objective of the corporation is to initiate, regulate, and operate the financial matters of the University’s co-curricular student activities.
The West Chester University Alumni Association also contributed significantly to the building project with a generous donation of $150,000.
“At a time when West Chester University enrolls numerous STEM majors, Marc and Maureen Duey; Student Services, Incorporated; and the West Chester University Alumni Association have invested in the next generation of WCU graduates who will enhance our region and our world as innovative engineers, nurses, nutritionists, physicists, public health professionals, and scientists,” said West Chester University President Christopher Fiorentino. “All of us are grateful to these generous benefactors who have created new possibilities and great opportunities for an increasing number of WCU students who are dedicated to preparing themselves for high-performance careers that will make a considerable difference to many.”
WCU Foundation Wins 2022 Circle of Excellence Award from CASE
We are honored to announce that West Chester University/Foundation is the recipient of a 2022 CASE Circle of Excellence Bronze Award in Special Events | Online Fundraisers for our 2021: G.A.L.A. (Give. Advance. Lead. Achieve.). CASE received more than 4,500 entries from 636 institutions in nearly 30 countries. Recipients showcase how advancement empowers teaching and learning, ignites institutional progress, and helps communities thrive.
“Our CASE Circle of Excellence Awards celebrate the creative, resourceful, and innovative ways advancement professionals around the globe champion their institutions’ success,” says CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham. “Advancement has never been more important to support and strengthen education. These 2022 Circle of Excellence recipients—from institutions and teams of all sizes and shapes, from regions across the world—showcase how advancement empowers teaching and learning, ignites institutional progress, and helps communities thrive. I hope you take the opportunity to explore these award winners and become inspired.”
CASE’s Circle of Excellence Awards are the premier recognition program for educational advancement. These peer-selected and adjudicated awards honor colleges, universities, and schools worldwide whose talented staff have advanced their organizations with resourcefulness and ingenuity.
CASE—the Council for Advancement and Support of Education—is a global, not-for-profit membership association with a vision to advance education to transform lives and society.
We are the home for advancement professionals, inspiring, challenging, and equipping them to act effectively and with integrity to champion the success of their institutions. CASE defines the competencies and standards for the profession of advancement, leading, and championing their dissemination and application with more than 97,000 advancement professionals at 3,100 member institutions in 80 countries.
Broad and growing communities of professionals gather under the global CASE umbrella. Currently these include alumni relations, development services, communications, fundraising, government relations, and marketing. These professionals are at all stages of their career and may be working in universities, schools, colleges, cultural institutions, or other not-for-profits. CASE uses the intellectual capital and professional talents of an army of volunteers to advance its work, and our membership includes many corporate partners in the education sector.
Headquartered in Washington D.C., CASE works across all continents from its regional offices in London, Singapore, and Mexico City to achieve a seamless experience for all our stakeholders, particularly our members, volunteers, and staff.
A Pledge to Pay It Forward
On Saturday, April 23rd, President Fiorentino and Sue Fiorentino hosted over 80 guests — alumni scholars, new scholarship recipients, parents, faculty, and supporters — in recognition of the Swope family’s generosity, and to hear firsthand the great impact the scholarship has had on students during their time at WCU and beyond.
The Swope family and the ever-growing group of Swope Scholars hope to meet annually to reconnect — and to build upon the Swope family’s long legacy of giving back.
Legacy Society Members Explore WCU History
Special Collections Librarian Ron McColl presented the Shakespeare First Folio, which came to the United States in 1895. It was eventually acquired by William Pyle Philips, son of George Morris Philips, the first principal of West Chester Normal School. While a student there, Philips honed his interest in English literature under the inspiring instruction of Dr. Francis Harvey Green, the library’s namesake. His father is remembered as an esteemed educator who demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the success and legacy of WCU.
More than 400 alumni, faculty, staff, friends, and benefactors have expressed their commitment to West Chester University by including the Foundation in their estate plans — their partnership will support future generations of Golden Rams for years to come.