Scranton campus celebrates renovated patio, new historical marker

Several people cut a ribbon to dedicate the new Penn State Scranton patio

Penn State Scranton held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday for its new patio. From left to right are Penn State Scranton Emeritus Advisory Board Member Maryla Scranton, a campus and University alumnus; former Lieutenant Governor William W. Scranton; Penn State Scranton Chancellor Marwan Wafa; and SGA President Emily Scarfo, who took part in the ribbon cutting.

Credit: Amy Gruzesky

SCRANTON, Pa. — Penn State Scranton continued to look to the future while simultaneously honoring its past as it unveiled both its newly renovated patio and a new Penn State historical marker during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held today (Sept. 10) on campus.

The ceremony — which included remarks by Penn State Scranton Chancellor Marwan Wafa; campus supporter and former Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. William “Bill” Scranton III; and campus Student Government Association (SGA) President Emily Scarfo — was attended by a large group of Penn State Scranton students, faculty, staff, campus retirees and community members.

Under pristine skies, Wafa started the event by giving remarks at the new Penn State historical marker, located just outside the Study Learning Center, near the Ridge View Drive entrance of the campus. The marker commemorates not just the Scranton campus’ founding, but Penn State’s entire history in the Scranton area going all the way back to 1923, when the University began offering evening technical programs in downtown Scranton.

“This past year, Penn State Scranton celebrated its 50th anniversary of our current location here in Dunmore. However, I always make it a point to say that Penn State has had a presence here in northeast Pennsylvania for much longer than that,” said Wafa, who expressed appreciation to the Penn State Alumni Association for its assistance with the funding of the marker.

Moving to the other side of the patio for the ribbon cutting, Wafa paid homage to the patio’s central role in campus life.

“This patio has been here, between the Dawson and Study Learning Center buildings, for almost our entire 50-year history. And it has provided our students and employees a place to socialize, study, eat, or just take a much-needed break to enjoy some fresh air on a pleasant day,” Wafa said.

Still, even the nicest amenities eventually require an upgrade, and the campus decided to renovate the patio following a lobbying effort spearheaded by members of the SGA, whose Student Activity Fee helped fund the project.

As part of the renovation project, the Nittany Lion shrine was moved to a spot that maximizes the patio’s stunning views of the Lackawanna Valley. Also, the patio now includes more modern furniture, as well as stepped seating at the entrance of the SLC to accommodate more people, Wafa said.

In her remarks, Scarfo, a sophomore nursing major, praised the efforts of former SGA President Ashli Daley and Vice President Elizabeth Brandt, who during the 2017-2018 academic year conducted a survey that showed widespread support for the patio renovation.

“I really like the new space, and I think the students do, too. Ever since the new furniture was put in, it’s been getting a lot of use,” Scarfo said following the ceremony. “And it’s great that the Lion is now the focal point. It really does bring out the view.”

Not far from the Lion shrine is a large, vintage style pedestal clock that was recently purchased by the campus as “another way to pay homage to our history,” according to Wafa.

At the bottom of the clock is a plaque honoring original campus namesake Worthington Scranton, the father of former Gov. William W. Scranton and grandson of former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton, who attended the ceremony with his wife, Maryla, a campus alumna who along with her husband has made many significant contributions to the campus through the years.

“Everyone who comes to our campus now and in the future will know how Penn State Scranton came to be and the people responsible for making it happen,” Wafa said.

Bill Scranton started his remarks with a vivid remembrance from his youth.

“Hard to believe, but I was here with my father 50 years ago when the soil was first turned for this campus,” he said, then joked that although he didn’t attend Penn State, “I am married to a woman who bleeds blue and white.”

From there, Scranton recalled how the campus founders wanted to name the campus after his father, who demurred and asked that it instead be dedicated to the memory of his low-key, yet extremely charitable father. While the two men were very different, “they were both dedicated from their toes to the top of their head to the betterment of this community,” Scranton said.

Scranton added that Wafa took pains to make clear that the campus' name change was a way for it to market itself more effectively. The clock, which Scranton referred to as “a good grandfather clock,” is an unostentatious yet wonderful way to continue honoring his grandfather’s legacy.

“He would be very pleased with this,” Scranton said.

“I’m very grateful the Scrantons understood the underlying reasons for us changing the name of the campus, as well as all the changes that have taken place here in terms of what we now offer as a campus,” Wafa said, after the ceremony. “It’s a wonderful day, and we’re thankful for all the support we’ve received from the Scranton family.”

Former Director of Academic Affairs K. Bruce Sherbine was among a number of former campus staffers and faculty members who attended the ceremony. Modifications like the patio renovation, Sherbine said, fit entirely with the campus’ continuing commitment to providing an attractive, welcoming environment for students.

“It hadn’t occurred to me to move the Lion shrine to that spot, where it most belongs,” Sherbine said. “When you’re working at a place like this campus, it’s easy to let the problems of the day get in the way of the bigger vision. I’m really impressed with how Marwan has kept that bigger vision in mind.”