Bicentennial Plaza

The Bicentennial Plaza was built on the lawn area in front of Schultz Banquet Hall using a combination of brick and bluestone pavers, echoing the entrances to Bentley Hall and the Tippie Alumni Center.

At 40 by 80 feet, the main plaza is a versatile space that can be used for any number of activities, including talks, plays, concerts, and other special events, including Commencement. The Class of 2015 will be the first class to graduate from the Bicentennial Plaza, processing up the historic walkway.

But long before students throw their caps in the air on Commencement, they’ll be using this beautiful, welcoming space for quiet study or impromptu concerts, for throwing Frisbees or dancing by moonlight. Although the plaza will be used for graduation, with all the accompanying pomp and tradition, it’s also meant to be used every day.

The plaza was elevated above the patio in front of Schultz Banquet Hall, and the patio has been redesigned and landscaped in ways that call to mind the Alumni Gardens that were here in an earlier time in Allegheny’s history. Lighting and distinctive wrought iron railings inspired by those at the Lord Gates and Brooks Hall define the space.

Bicentennial Plaza Ribbon Cutting

The Bicentennial Plaza was opened at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, October 17, 2014 as part of Homecoming 2014.

President James Mullen, Jr.’s Remarks

October 17, 2014

Good Afternoon.

10344322_10154704975705431_1086762755948438364_oAs the 21st President of Allegheny College, it is a special honor for me to welcome you to this dedication ceremony. I welcome Chair Rob Smith, Vice Chair Tim Reeves and the Board of Trustees who are stewards of a legacy that extends back to our founders; our Faculty who carry on and enrich a distinguished tradition of academic rigor and excellence; our staff and administrators who every day work quietly and effectively to create the best residential liberal arts experience in the nation; our students whose idealism and promise are sources of hope for our nation’s future; and our alumni, including our Alumni Council, whose devotion to Allegheny gives life to our tradition. I offer special thanks to the College’s Bicentennial Committee, colleagues from across campus whose work has set the foundation for the celebration of this historic year.

I also thank Roger Gildea and Gilcon Construction Company, as well as other contractors whose work made this plaza a reality and in a very special way, to our colleague Cliff Willis, Jed Miller, Chris Howard, and to Brian Gillette and, as always, the team in Physical Plant, not only for their work on the plaza, but for maintaining the most beautiful campus in America.

I welcome Congressman Kelly, Mayor Soff, Representative Brooks, Representative Roae, Commissioner Lynch, elected officials and our fellow citizens of Meadville and Crawford County. Our relationship with this City and region is deep and enduring, grounded in our common commitment to building community and enriching the lives of those who live here. From our founding, the people of Northwest Pennsylvania have supported the College – we have grown together across two centuries and in so many ways we have become the institution we are because of what this community has meant to us. We are today and always proud that we are so much a part of Meadville and that Meadville is so much a part of us.

I also acknowledge Bishop Bickerton and the special role that the Methodist Church has played in Allegheny’s history. Our College would not be here today without the commitment of the Methodist Church at a crucial time in our history. Moreover, our connection to the Church has informed our values, most profoundly our commitment to service and to social justice – and it has stood as a constant reminder that we are all part of something larger than ourselves; something that is good and worthy yet beyond easy definition or simple rationalization.

I thank those whose generosity has made this beautiful plaza possible. In particular, the Great Class of 1965, whose efforts were led by Carol Williams; to Fred Isaac and Robin Reiner, who are always there to support critical needs of the College; to the Lord Family who two centuries ago donated the land   upon which Allegheny would grow and prosper; the Shultz family, whose extraordinary contributions to our community are forever commemorated through Shultz Hall which is a landmark of this campus.

And, of course, to Carol Tillotson, Class of 1954, whose character, dignity, generosity and love of this place reminds us all of what it means to be an Alleghenian and whose family stands among the most significant and beloved in our college’s history.  Immediately following this ceremony, it will be my pleasure to join with Carol and the Tillotson family to dedicate a tree in their honor, one more way on this historic day to say thank you to her and to them for all they mean to us.

Today’s ceremony marks the official beginning of our College’s Bicentennial celebration…a moment that joins each of us to generations past and future.  This Plaza and the forty-three historic plaques that line the walkway from Bentley Hall combine to tell the remarkable story of an iconic place.

It is a story that begins with Timothy Alden, whose deep religious faith, courage and vision led him to the western frontier of a new nation, where he and the people of this community joined to establish a college that 200 years later stands as one of the most distinguished in America. It is a story framed by a remarkable line of Faculty — men and women whose commitment to residential liberal learning has never wavered and has transformed the lives of Allegheny students through the decades. It is a story carried forward by generations of Alumni, who in their love of this place and the achievements of their lives have honored the best traditions of our College and shaped the history of our country.

If we were to do nothing else this day but acknowledge the extraordinary story of Allegheny College and the people who shaped its past, we would share a wonderful and worthwhile celebration.

This day, however, should be about something more than the remarkable story that is Allegheny’s history – it should also be about the possibilities of our future; as much about what can be as what has been; about the chapter that our generation will write and the legacy we will leave. As we celebrate the first two centuries of Allegheny College, we are accountable to define its third.

This celebration is really all about generational responsibility; about what it means to inherit, build upon and bequeath an historic trust.

It is about our responsibility to those who preceded us – to steward the institution they labored to build. It is also about our responsibility to those who will follow us; our obligation to those who will teach here in the next century and those who will graduate on this plaza and influence the history of their time. We will never know most of them, but the work we do in this moment will shape the Allegheny that they inherit.

The significance of this moment calls us to boldness; to write a chapter worthy of an institution that has traced the arc of our nation’s history – a chapter that at once honors those who have come before us and is true to those who will follow; a chapter that is not only meaningful for Allegheny, but one that contributes to the future of all American higher education.

Our moment challenges us to reaffirm our historic commitment to a student experience rooted in the values that have been core to Allegheny across generations — an experience shaped by academic rigor, integrity,  and civility; It challenges us to insure an experience that is at once true  to the best of the liberal arts tradition and  relevant for the twenty-first century – an experience that insures that  students will have opportunities to understand and embrace the diversity of the world around them; that they will have the chance to reflect and examine in meaningful ways on the career options that await them; that they will be inspired to answer the call of citizenship – contributing to well-being of their communities, nation and world; that they will grow as human beings who are sensitive, compassionate, hard-working and committed to excellence.

This moment invites us to examine our College’s place in and its responsibilities to a wider society and a wider world – a world of extraordinary complexity and constant change; a world in which instantaneous communication has transformed how we interact with each other; a world in which cultures intersect in ways never before seen; a world in which the right and wrong of history inform the reality of the present and our expectations for the future.

It is our responsibility to prepare our students to engage that world in all its complexity– and, moreover, to succeed in that world and lead in it. The vision and rigor that we bring to this ongoing work should inform all of higher education.

Ours is a moment of historic privilege – one that no other generation of Alleghenians will enjoy. It is our choice as to how we embrace this privilege. As we do so, I would ask that each of us reflect on the story told on this walkway; that every alumna and alumnus of the College reflect on the lessons you learned here, the faculty who taught you here, the friendships you made here. I would ask that each of you think about how your life is different because of Allegheny and the years you spent here.

And then I would ask that each of us commit ourselves to this College and its special place in our nation’s past, present and future. I would ask that each of us embrace our generational responsibilities to those who preceded us and those who will follow us. And I ask that each of us join to define a third century for Allegheny that is worthy of this moment and true to the historic privilege we share – a third century in which this great and historic place sets the standard of excellence for liberal arts learning in America.

That is a great and worthy quest, one that should carry us in the tomorrows that await us and one that I am honored to share.

Thank you.

Past Renderings

Plans for the plaza evolved over time and the drawings illustrated here do not reflect the final design.