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RMU Hits $40 million Fundraising Goal

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pittsburgh -- Robert Morris University held Celebration2 Thursday night to mark the successful completion of the largest fundraising campaign in RMU history and the opening of the Wheatley Center, the new building for the School of Communications and Information Systems (SCIS) at the university’s main campus in Moon Township.

The 50,000-square-foot facility includes an art gallery, a 3-D design room, a screening room, computer labs, a café, and more. It was named for Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) a slave, poet, and the first African-American woman to publish a book. The name was selected by SCIS full-time faculty and staff and announced during the event.

The Wheatley Center is possible thanks to the $40 million Changing Lives, Building Futures fundraising campaign, which also paid for the School of Business building that opened last year.

“This building is symbolic of how the capital campaign has contributed to the ongoing transformation of Robert Morris University while allowing us to stay true to the mission and core values that this community embraces like no other university I've seen,” said Gregory G. Dell’Omo, president of Robert Morris University.

More than 8,200 donors contributed to the university over the course of the campaign, which launched in 2006. Other campaign achievements include 30 new scholarship funds and an endowed research center, the RMU Research Center on Black Male Educational Student Success, which is funded through a gift from The Heinz Endowments. Dell'Omo noted that the center grew out Crawley's own research, which also is the basis of the Black Male Leadership Development Institute and the Black Male Empowerment Network at RMU.

"This is just one powerful example of how RMU faculty continouously link their academic research to real world applications, which,RMUWheatleyCenter in turn, help change lives at RMU and beyond," said Dell'Omo.

David J. Malone, vice chairman of the RMU Board of Trustees, was the chairman of the capital campaign. Last year the Board of Trustees honored Malone, president and CEO of Gateway Financial, with the inaugural David J. Malone Volunteer Service Award. This year the award was presented to RMU trustee Barbara McNees, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.

Neither Malone nor McNees is a graduate of RMU, a fact that makes their tireless efforts on behalf of the university even more inspiring, said Gary Claus, chairman of the Board of Trustees and a 1974 Robert Morris graduate.

“They volunteer and donate to Robert Morris because they believe in our mission, pure and simple. Their example is invigorating to me and my fellow alumni on the Board of Trustees,” said Claus.

ATIsculptureMcNees received the award during Celebration2, which also featured tours and demonstrations of the new center. The building’s signature feature is a three-story central atrium, flooded with natural light, and Allegheny Technologies Inc. has donated a distinctive titanium sculpture that sits on a raised platform near the building’s entrance.

A highlight of the evening was the opening of the first exhibition, “Reframing Research,” which featured research-based art work by Media Arts faculty.

"The building provides a beautiful, bright, vibrant, and inviting atmosphere for teaching, learning, and engagement," said Barbara J. Levine, dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems. "It will be open to the entire university and members of the community for events like seminars, workshops, gallery exhibitions, screenings, and theatrical performances. It's really a wonderful addition to the RMU campus."

The School of Communications and Information Systems includes degree programs in communication, media arts, computer and information systems, English, and organizational leadership. Its new building is part of a plan to give each of RMU’s five schools its own dedicated space. The university soon will break ground on a medical simulation center for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, set to open in 2013.

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.