Last Word

by President Richard J. Cook

Allegheny College Is “Centered”

It’s difficult to fully convey the sense of excitement that the expanded and reconfigured Henderson Campus Center has created on campus among students, faculty, staff, and visitors alike. At long last, Allegheny has a highly functional and attractive campus center that places students and others into frequent and productive contact – a real crossroads or town center, if you will.

Day or night, the building is used and used well. The post office ensures that students have a reason to be in the campus center at least once daily. It, along with the bookstore, had been located in Cochran Hall for many years – both to their and Cochran’s detriment. McKinley’s Food Court bustles with student activity at all hours, functioning, along with Brooks, as one of the campus’s two regular dining venues.

Campus radio station WARC, visible in the main atrium, shows for all to see students and faculty doing broadcasts of original programming. Grounds for Change – the student-operated coffee house – joins the game room, bookstore, and post office on “Main Street” on the second floor. I was delighted to see during a recent weekend at least two dozen prospective students and their parents depleting bookstore racks and shelves of Allegheny clothing and other items to proudly display back home.

Meeting rooms and offices, as well as attractive, informal lounge spaces, complete the building on the third floor. Because a direct – not to mention dry and warm – walking route to the Wise Sport and Fitness Center leads students through the campus center, people circulate through the building constantly and conveniently.

This project was made possible by our Tradition & Transformation campaign, and more specifically in large part by the personal gifts of our trustees. The campus center is but a portion of extensive campus enhancements that will include Cochran’s conversion to an attractive alumni center, a long-needed theatre and communication arts facility, and development of the “Learning Commons” in Pelletier Library.

Campus improvements will be the most visible outcome of Tradition & Transformation, but equally important are our other campaign priorities. Endowed professorships will help anchor our single greatest asset – a talented and dedicated faculty. Scholarship funds will make an Allegheny College education affordable for students for generations to come, and gifts to programs will lead to greater quality and innovations in residential programming, visiting scholar and artist programs, symposia and panels (which often include alumni), and the curriculum.

The talent and commitment of our people and the high quality of our programs belie the modest resources that historically have been available to the College in comparison with other more highly endowed national liberal arts colleges considered our peers. We can be proud of the efficiency of our spending and dedication of our faculty and staff, but parsimony has its limits. If the College is to meet the needs of tomorrow’s students – and alumni – we must make significant investments in our endowment, campus facilities, and faculty and staff. Great colleges become and remain great because people believe in them – and invest their talents and resources into them.

For those who haven’t been on campus recently, I urge you to visit and witness firsthand the returns that our alumni and friends’ investments are yielding. Your view of our country’s future will be buoyed by the promising young people you meet and by the faculty and staff who provide such tremendous educational experiences for those students. I welcome you to join the team and thank you for your confidence and support.

President Cook welcomes questions about the Tradition & Transformation campaign and what it is accomplishing on campus. He can be contacted by e-mail ( or by regular mail: President Richard Cook, Allegheny College, 520 N. Main Street, Meadville, PA 16335.

This article was featured in the Spring 2004 issue of Allegheny Magazine.