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Juniata Graduates Irene and John Dale Make $1 Million Gift to Founders Hall

(Posted February 11, 2008)

Irene and John Dale, who graduated in 1958 and 1954, respectively, generously donated $1 million to renovate Founders Hall.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Irene Dale, a 1958 graduate of Juniata College, and her husband, John, a 1954 graduate, have donated $1 million as part of a capital campaign to restore and expand Founders Hall, Juniata's original campus building and currently its main administrative facility.

The gift is part of the college's new capital campaign, "Founders Hall: Restoring the heart of Juniata," to renovate and expand Founders Hall from a purely administrative building to a facility that combines the college's academic mission. The project, which has an approximately $8 million budget, will create new classrooms in Founders and create new office space for two departments in the college's humanities faculty: history and English.

"The restoration of our first and most revered campus building is a major part of our strategic vision to bring the college's academic departments back to the heart of the campus," says Thomas R. Kepple, president of Juniata. "The Dales, whose previous generosity created the College's innovative information technology program and refurbished an entire wing of Brumbaugh Academic Center to house Juniata's business, IT and communication departments, have lasting memories of how well Founders served their needs as Juniata students and would like to see the building continue to influence Juniatians as a classroom building."

The renovated building, which was designed by Street Dixon Rick Architecture, a Nashville, Tenn. architectural firm, will be built to the environmental standards to qualify it as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building by the U.S, Green Building Council. LEED certification recognizes performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. When the building is completed, the college will submit the renovated structure for certification as a LEED building.

Environmentally friendly construction has become very important in architectural design, largely through the efforts of the U.S. Green Building Council, which monitors the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. Silver certification signifies proof that a building is environmentally responsible and a healthy place to live and work.

"It's a shame to use only part of the building, because it has such history and memories for alumni -- all Juniata students up until the 1970s had classes in Founders."
Irene Dale, a 1958 graduate and a former resident in Founders Hall.

The renovated Founders Hall uses geothermal heating and cooling, an environmentally friendly system that uses deeply drilled wells as heat exchangers to make heating and cooling a large buildings as efficient and inexpensive as possible. Founders Hall will be the second LEED building for Juniata, joining Shuster Hall, the multipurpose building that is the centerpiece of the Raystown Field Station complex at Raystown Lake.

"It's important to maintain a historical link with the past and still have our first building on campus be a progressive, environmentally friendly building," says David Andrews, chairman of Juniata's board of trustees and an Altoona. Pa.-based attorney. "I think the administration and board of trustees have extensive experience with 'green' issues and we all want to make sure that our new Founders Hall is as committed to the environment as the college is to educating students."

"When Irene and I were in school, it was the central building on campus and we'd like to see the college use the entire building," says John Dale, whose first job after graduating was as a math instructor at Juniata. "We've seen firsthand in Brumbaugh Academic Center how bringing different
departments into the same space fosters collaboration and I'm sure the same will happen here."

"It's a shame to use only part of the building, because it has such history and memories for alumni -- all Juniata students up until the 1970s had classes in Founders," says Irene Dale, who lived in a single room in Founders as a Juniata senior in 1958.

John Dale, a 1954 Juniata graduate, and his wife, Irene, have been principal donors for several information technology-related projects at the college. Their most recent prior donation was $300,000 to help refurbish Dale Hall. To date, the Dales have contributed $4.2 million to create the college's Information Technology program and have funded a science and technology scholarship program for entering students. They also support several student scholarships. Their combined gifts of more than $6 million make the couple the second largest donor in the history of the college.

John Dale is a retired executive vice president of the telecommunications software consulting firm Dale, Gesek, McWilliams and Sheridan, a computer software, services and consulting business specializing in telecommunications and networking technology and products relating to those areas. In 1995, the DGM&S firm merged with Comverse Technologies Inc. and Dale retired in 1995 as executive vice president of DGM&S.

Dale has been a member of Juniata's Board of Trustees since 1997. He also served on the college's Alumni Council from 1995 to 1997 and serves on the college's Information Technology advisory board.

He earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Juniata College and went on to attend the University of Wisconsin. He returned to Juniata as an instructor of mathematics in 1955. In 1958, he left Juniata to enter graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a master's degree in mathematics in 1960.

Dale lives in Medford, N.J. with his wife, Irene, who graduated from Juniata in 1958. The couple has four daughters, Denise Koetas, a social worker; Andrea Harris, a software manager at Comverse; Deborah Seidel, a vice president at the investment firm T. Rowe Price; and Valerie White, a librarian at Penn State York.

The plan to refurbish Founders Hall will tear down the north wing, which houses the registrar's office and rebuild an entirely modern wing that will also modernize the remaining central wing, including central elevator and stairway systems. The new wing's design will mirror the architecture of the original Founders Hall. The building's distinctive bell tower and its circular staircase will be restored.

The new spaces will give the college expanded classroom space, as the two upper floors will be dedicated to several new classrooms, several seminar rooms and offices for the history and English faculty. "The college believes strongly that the humanities are critical to our mission as a liberal arts institution and bringing part of our faculty back into this building honors our founders' original vision," Kepple says.

The plan to bring humanities into Founders Hall fulfills several longtime goals for the college. The addition of two classrooms and seminar rooms will give Juniata more quality high-tech classroom space, facilities crucial to recruiting new students and new faculty. Many students (73 percent) who consider attending any college indicated in a national survey that the facility that housed their major was critical to their decision to attend that institution.

The proximity of two academic departments in the same building will foster collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas, not only for humanities students, but also for faculty.

Founders Hall until January housed most of the college's administrative offices, including the development staff, which occupies the basement level, as well as the offices of the president, provost, registrar and dean of students, which occupies the first floor.

The two upper floors of Founders Hall have been vacant since the 1970s, when unique problems in the building's original construction caused instability in the two topmost levels.

Founders Hall, originally known as "The Building", was constructed in 1878-79 and housed the entire campus community. For nearly a century, the building was the hub of Juniata, as students, faculty and administration shared classrooms, dormitories, chapel, library and cafeteria. The most recognizable and enduring symbol of Juniata, Founders Hall remains the College's signature building. It's the facility most frequently photographed in the College's recruitment materials and its tower is used on the college's alumni license plate.

The structural problems that prompted the college to vacate the two upper floors were the result of a decision to create a chapel with unimpeded sightlines in the original building. The chapel (now the registrar's office) was built on the first floor with no support pillars. To compensate, the builders used an innovative truss system that supported the upper floors. But, over time, stress, vibration and other factors caused the truss system to compromise the integrity of the two upper floors.

The new construction and restoration of Founders also includes several seminar rooms dedicated to the history of the college and new patios, walkways and landscaping designed to encourage outdoor learning and socializing.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.