Penn State Lehigh Valley Virtual Gala Raises Funds for Expansion

By Colin McEvoy on May 25, 2021

The $14.4 million expansion project at Penn State Lehigh Valley will be opening in phases beginning this month. (photo courtesy PSU-LV and Butz Corp.)

Penn State Lehigh Valley hosted the virtual Charles W. Dent Blue & White Gala on May 20, paying tribute to the former U.S. congressman while raising essential funds for a new STEM wing at the PSU-LV campus.

The $14.4 million expansion project will be opening in phases beginning this month, and will include a full-service dining hall, student networking space, and the Charles W. Dent STEM wing with an organic chemistry lab and other student resources.

“The Lehigh Valley building expansion project will help fulfill the need for an expanded STEM curriculum and facilitate the consistent enrollment growth the campus has seen over the past several years,” read the narration in a video shown during the event.

The wing will be named after Dent, a 1982 alumnus of Penn State Lehigh Valley, according to PSU-LV Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson.

Former U.S. Rep. Charles Dent speaking during the virtual gala. (photo courtesy PSU-LV)

“Charlie, we are so honored to have your name on our STEM wing in the new expansion – and so appreciative of your support and advocacy for this project,” Richardson said. “On behalf of the countless students whose lives you will touch through this initiative: thank you.”

Nearly 250 guests attended the virtual gala, which raised more than $14,000 for the STEM wing portion of the expansion project.

The full virtual gala event can be viewed below:

The expansion will allow the university to deliver the skillsets desired by regional employers and allow students to complete the full complement of undergraduate courses needed to apply for medical school locally, PSU-LV officials said.

Dent said he particularly appreciated the testimonials provided by several students throughout the virtual gala event.

“(It) was just really heart-warming to hear the students talk about the importance of science, technology, engineering and math, their majors and all the great things they are going to do with their lives and how Penn State is opening the doors for all of those young people and so many more to follow,” Dent said.

?Attendees got a special look at the expansion via a video documenting its progress from the Butz Corporation

“I can’t begin to thank you enough, to everyone who has made a contribution in support of this STEM wing at Penn State Lehigh Valley campus, which is a real gem of our community,” Dent said.

To find out more or to support the campus expansion, contact Kate Ginnard at the Penn State Lehigh Valley Development Office at 610-285-5072. 

Originally planned as an in-person event, the online gala brought together local and state leaders, community members, alumni, faculty, and staff for a celebration, and to pay tribute to Dent his years of service to the community.

The gala featured CNN personality Mike Smerconish and testaments to Dent from other top regional leaders including Butz Corporation Chairman Lee Butz, Penn State President Eric Barron, recently retired Orasure Technologies Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs Debra Fraser-Howze, and former PPL Chairman and CEO Bill Spence.

Others included Norris McLaughlin attorney Dolores A. Laputka, City Center Investment Corp. CEO J.B. Reilly, Former Bethlehem Steel CEO Hank Barnette, Penn State Senior Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses & Executive Chancellor Madlyn L. Hanes, and Dent’s daughter Kathryn Dent.

The gala also included a silent auction, music, and a performance by the Allentown High School Chorale. Former CBS Anchor and PSU-LV faculty member Liz Keptner served as master of ceremonies.

The gala committee included: Community Advising Committee—Pam Dent, Polly Beste, Pam Halper, Ilene Wood; Video—Steve Butz/Christian Pungo; Allen Chorale Director—Brandon Remp; Penn State Lehigh Valley Planning and Execution–Sandy Kile, Eileen Grodziak, Liz Keptner, Camille Kacerik, Sharon Tercha, Kate Ginnard, Amy Gery, Debbie Zurich-Smyrl, Ann Lalik, Pam Kiser, Brie Burdge, Dennille Schuler, Suzanne Stianche; Closed Captioning—Abby Ward.

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