New South Main Street Gateway Envisioned
WILKES-BARRE, Pa – Wilkes University announced plans to invest $4.5 million in renovating buildings to house its business school and to create administrative offices located on South Main Street. The multi-phase project includes transforming its University Center on Main (UCOM), located at 169 S. Main Street, into the new home of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership and renovating 141 S. Main Street, the former Bartikowsky’s jewelry store, located next door.
The project also envisions creating the South Main Street Gateway – a dramatic entrance to the heart of campus from South Main Street that would stretch through South Franklin Street onto the main campus greenway, the Fenner Quadrangle. The gateway project is expected to be completed some time during the 2014-2015 academic year.
Renovation of the University Center on Main, which now houses administrative offices, a café and a recreation center, will commence in April and be completed in time for the start of the new school year in August 2014. Renovations are estimated to cost about $3 million. When completed, the building housing Wilkes’ Sidhu School will be a state-of-the-art business school. It will include a financial market trading room that simulates a New York Stock Exchange trading floor complete with an electronic stock ticker. The business school project also will include seven smart classrooms, faculty offices, meeting rooms for students and student club space. The move consolidates classrooms and components of the business program, currently located in several buildings around campus. The recreation center and Gambini’s Café will remain in the current location in the University Center.
“This is another significant investment in our academic programs and I believe this new facility will strengthen the reputation of all our academic programs and attract more students,” said Patrick F. Leahy, Wilkes president. “This is the latest in a series of projects aimed at providing facilities that match the excellence of our academic and extracurricular programs. These projects include our new $35 million Lawrence and Sally Cohen Science Center, the move of our School of Nursing to Stark Learning Center with a new state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab, and the renovation of the Munson Field House. Wilkes is making the investments that our students expect in their educational experience.”
Sidhu School Dean Jeffrey Alves says that having a building dedicated to the business school provides the ideal setting for a distinctive program that includes both academic coursework as well as classes that focus on personal and leadership development. It also will provide space for extracurricular activities that enrich the business school experience. “By locating our faculty and classrooms in one place, our students will get the full benefit of academic integration,” Alves said. “Sidhu School students frequently work as teams, as is the case in the business world, and the building design provides dedicated space for them. We believe our program in the Sidhu School is successful because of the synergies among academic offerings, our personal and professional development classes and co-curricular work, and the new building will capitalize on these strengths.”
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas Leighton said the projects also are a boon to the redevelopment of downtown Wilkes-Barre.
“This project will bring a celebrated business school onto Main Street, connecting today’s students with the best technology and cultivate an environment for success,” Leighton said. “Wilkes University is vital to the continued development of Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding area. They are a major employer in the community and bring thousands of new students to northeastern Pennsylvania every year. This project is a win-win. It will have the immediate impact of improving the surrounding neighborhood as well as keeping Wilkes University competitive with educational institutions across the country.”
The former jewelry store was purchased for $1.2 million and is initially being renovated for use for administrative offices, including the student services center, which includes the registrar and financial aid, the University finance and accounting offices, and human resources. Other uses for the new building space will be considered as part of the University’s master plan. Other administrative personnel currently working in UCOM will move to other campus locations.
The practice of Northeastern Eye Institute (formerly Dr. Brown’s Eye Care) will remain at 141 S. Main St. for the next several months, but eventually will relocate. The 80-car parking lot will be landscaped with shrubs and used by the University. Both buildings will receive extensive exterior work designed to match the grey stone facades of many of the campus’ signature buildings.
The project is complemented by the relocation of Wilkes University’s Small Business Development Center and The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University to 85 S. Main Street in late January. They previously were located in the Innovations Center located on the 2nd Floor of the Barnes and Noble Book Store on South Main Street.
“The relocation of these offices anchor this block of South Main Street and will help the city stabilize and attract new businesses,” Leahy said.
The renovations to the University Center on Main, 141 S. Main Street and the construction of the campus gateway are the latest in a series of investments made by the University that bolster and enhance the revitalization of downtown Wilkes-Barre. The first was the purchase of the former call center – now the University Center on Main -- in July 2005 from the Wilkes-Barre Redevelopment Authority. This was followed by the purchase on Dec. 6, 2006, of 10 E. South Tower, now the University Towers student residence hall. These were the first major steps in implementing Wilkes' 20-year master plan, which calls for creation of a more pedestrian-friendly campus while celebrating the historic significance of Wilkes-Barre and renovating other facilities.
Click here to see the Campus Renovations Slideshow
Dr. Jeffrey Alves
Dean, Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership
Dr. Alves was appointed Dean of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes University in 2011 following nearly fifteen years as the Allan P. Kirby, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Leadership Studies in the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership, and Director of the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Wilkes University. Prior to joining Wilkes University in 1997 he was President of Vergason Technology, Inc., a small, rapidly growing technology-based company named to the “Fast-Track 500” as one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the United States. From 1983 to 1996 he was a principal in three new ventures and worked in corporate development at Corning Inc. in the areas of architectural product development and flat panel (LCD) glass development. (More)
About Sidhu Business School
Formed in 2004, the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes University specializes in developing leaders who embody self-awareness, empathy, emotional intelligence, vision, integrity and compassion. The Sidhu School offers six majors: accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, management, marketing, and sports and event management. The Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership also offers an MBA. The business school challenges students to become first-rate thinkers and problem solvers and prepares them for their chosen careers. The school emphasizes mastering business fundamentals, developing leadership potential, building a career focus, and grounding personal and professional decisions on strong ethical foundations to prepare its students for the demanding future of the 21st century leader.