Swift Building Rededication: Nearly 50 Years in the Making

The crowd gathered outside of the Swift Building in Schoch plaza for the rededication ceremony. (Photo provided by Steven Harmic)

DUBOIS – Following a major renovation project, the Swift Memorial Building at Penn State DuBois was officially rededicated on Oct. 7.  The rededication ceremony came nearly 47 years to the day since the building was originally dedicated, on October 11, 1964.  The renovation that took place over the last year is the first time the building has been upgraded since it was first built.

Featured speakers at the ceremony were Penn State DuBois Chancellor Anita McDonald, 75th District state Rep. Matt Gabler (R), as well as Penn State University Vice President and Provost Rodney Erikson.  President of Swift Kennedy Insurance and DuBois Educational Foundation board member, George Heigel, also spoke about the history of the building, which was named for Patrick Swift, who was also the founder of Swift Kennedy.  Student Government Association President Louise Whyte also spoke, sharing the student’s perspective. 

“Today we celebrate the end of a year of construction, office relocations, and temporary facilities,” Erikson said.  “But we also celebrate the beginning of a new era for the Swift Building. The building has become a state of the art facility for teaching and learning. Use it well, fill it with pride, and may it be here to serve the campus for many years to come.”    

Some of the upgrades Erikson referred to that make the Swift Building State of the Art include cutting-edge laboratory facilities,  new smart classrooms, computer labs, and chemistry and biology labs that have all been outfitted with the latest in technology, providing an up-to-date, quality educational facility for students. 

“It can’t be expressed in words how much it means to our wellbeing and education,” Whyte said of the renovations.  “It really has changed the way we learn.  Smart Boards, new computer labs; all student have open access to this new technology.”  

In sharing the history of the building, Heigel said, “In 1962 they embarked on a huge capital campaign.  $600,000 was raised in the community.  That doesn’t seem like a lot now, but obviously back then it was.” 

Heigel went on to outline the life of the building’s namesake. Patrick Swift, an Irish immigrant, moved to DuBois and founded the Swift-Kennedy Insurance Company in 1922.  Swift became a successful businessman and civic leader, and a strong supporter of the campus. He was instrumental in organizing the DuBois Educational Foundation, the advisory board to Penn State DuBois, and served as its first president.  

“When it was built, the DEF thought it was appropriate to name the building after Patrick Swift, who started the DEF in 1946 and helped it grow and support the campus,” said Heigel.     

Gabler spoke about the important role the renovations will play in maintaining Penn State DuBois’ role in the community.  He said, “This will allow the campus to stay ahead of the times, stay on the cutting edge of technology, and remain a valuable resource.  The resources here on this campus are just incredible.”  

“The remodeling of the Swift Building enables our students to have a state of the art facility worthy of the Penn State name,” McDonald told the crowd.  As in 1964, when community benefactors left their imprint on the lives of Penn State students, once again the community has contributed to what we do best at Penn State DuBois: make lives better.  Better through education provided in and out of the beautiful classrooms and laboratories you see here today.”  She continued, “Penn State DuBois gives a wholehearted thank you to our university, our state, and our communities for their on-going support, as we continue to work towards our mission.”

At the time the renovation began, in August of 2010, Penn State had set aside university dollars, and secured Capital Renewal Funds from the state to cover the $4.5 million dollar cost.  Increased efficiency of the building due to heating, air conditioning and other upgrades are expected to save the campus $15,000 to $20,000 a year in operating costs.  This accounts for approximately a 20 percent increase in the Swift Building’s efficiency.

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