As chronicled in this issue of Allegheny magazine, Cochran Hall has stood proudly in varied duty at the center of the Allegheny College campus for nearly one hundred years. The College’s first woman trustee, Sarah Cochran, envisioned a building of both utility and elegance and provided unique insight and an extraordinarily generous gift to create what we all know as Cochran Hall.
Once restoration is complete, Cochran Hall will be virtually unmatched in style and quality on any college campus. The design, materials, and workmanship from the early twentieth century simply cannot be found in modern structures—or even in most vintage ones. Many such buildings on college campuses have fallen into disrepair or been severely compromised, if they remain standing at all.
But this project of re-birth is about much more than just a building, elegant as it will be. It is also about values, traditions, and our educational mission. As Allegheny College approaches its two-hundredth year, the institution continues to provide unique life-enhancing educational experiences to deserving young people from all walks of life. Only because alumni have recognized and believed in the concept of the small, independent college has Allegheny survived these many decades through good times and bad.
As I watch this project take shape, I am moved to think about the alumni Allegheny produces and about what sets them apart from the graduates of other colleges and universities.
During my nine years at Allegheny, I have met hundreds of alumni and know a good number of them well. Whether a Broadway star or a dedicated social worker, a successful entrepreneur or a pioneering surgeon, a corporate executive or a gifted teacher, our graduates possess several characteristics in common. They have integrity and are guided by a system of values to do what is honest and right. They have a caring spirit and are generous with their talents and resources in ways large and small. They are innovative problem-solvers and leaders in the workplace and their communities. And while their talent and commitment often allow them to excel, Allegheny graduates possess unusual humility and approachability, grateful for the opportunities they have been presented in life.
In short, Allegheny alumni have “unusual combinations of interests, skills, and talents,” the phrase the College uses as its distinctive description of our students and faculty as well as alumni. Coupled with a strong sense of ethics and personal humility, these attributes ensure that Allegheny graduates stand out in any crowd in the best sense of the phrase.
The Patricia Bush Tippie Alumni Center in Cochran Hall is tangible recognition of the esteem in which the College holds our alumni and of their continuing connection to alma mater. Likewise, the center will serve students as alumni-in-the-making, helping them understand that being an Alleghenian is a lifetime endeavor rather than simply a four-year experience.
We on campus look forward to the dedication of the Tippie Alumni Center in Cochran Hall during Homecoming 2005 and to many years of its serving both a symbolic and a real function as our most visible connection with alumni. I hope each and every one of you will have the opportunity to see the renovations for yourself and to enjoy the hospitality of what has been envisioned as a true home for alumni, where Alleghenians of every generation can relax, reminisce, reflect, and rejuvenate. We’ll leave a light on for you.
President Cook welcomes questions and comments. He can be contacted by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by regular mail: President Richard Cook, Allegheny College, 520 N. Main Street, Meadville, PA 16335.
This article was featured in the Winter 2004 issue of Allegheny Magazine.