Clarion University buildings to come down

Demolition and renovation at Clarion University could begin during summer with the razing of Carrier Hall and the Thorn buildings, while Egbert Hall is set for remodeling.

Len Cullo, the university’s vice president of finance and administration, last week told the Council of Trustees that the state Department of General Services was reviewing bids submitted on the projects.

“I believe those projects will begin this summer,” Cullo said during the Zoom session.

Carrier Hall, an administrative building that was constructed in 1971, hasn’t had a comprehensive renovation.

It was recommended for demolition rather than rehabilitation since the building is in significant disrepair and “is very unattractive at a key location on campus and detracts from first impressions for potential students and their families.”

Cullo said demolition of Carrier Hall is an important and needed project.

“It’s going to be razed or fall down, whichever comes first,” Cullo said.

Likewise built in 1971, the Thorn buildings were most recently used as headquarters for the university’s public safety department, but for the past couple of years have been used for storage.

Egbert Hall, also used as an administrative building, will be the new home for most of the offices now in Carrier Hall.

According to the state Department of General Services, the following contracts related to the Carrier, Thorn and Egbert projects totaling $4,868,896 were awarded Jan. 12 to Mike Coates Construction Co. Inc., of Niles, Ohio ($2,987,696); Renick Brothers Construction Co., of Slippery Rock ($1,033,000); First American Industries Inc., of Pittsburgh ($204,800); and Hallstrom-Clark Electric Inc., of DuBois ($643,400).

The original 2015 plan that included the demolition of Carrier Hall also included the creation of “Arnold Plaza” at the corner of Arnold Avenue and Main Street. The project could include a second entrance to the university off Main Street.

State Rep. R. Lee James, a Clarion University Board of Trustees member, asked Cullo who is paying for all the demolition and renovations.

“These are state projects,” Cullo told James.

Returning students

The Board of Trustees was informed the university anticipates 90% of its freshman class will return in fall, marking the highest retention rate for the first-year class in six years.

However, retention for the sophomore class headed into its junior year is anticipated to be 67.6%, the lowest mark for that class in five years. It was noted, however, that decrease in returning students is only 20 individuals.

Integration progress

Clarion University President Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, who also is president of the newly formed Pennsylvania Western University, said the integration effort of Clarion, Edinboro and California universities is on track.

“We have our (department chairs) in place and we’ve streamlined administration,” she said. “We have a very different cabinet structure and we have a wonderful online global presence.

“Penn West will be a wonderful organization going forward.”