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The Swenson Legacy at York
The Swenson legacy at York began with Ralph and Madeline (pictured in the background) and continues today. Reviewing the design for the new center are, left to right, Jessica Christensen, Frank Dittenhafer, architect; Greg Swenson, Carol Tanzola, Gary Swenson, Joel M. Rodney, chancellor at York; and Kristan Winand.

Major gifts can be made to capital projects (i.e., buildings or additions to buildings) that have been approved by the University.  Donors may memorialize or honor a loved one through giving to capital projects.

Some additional facts about capital gifts: A building can be named for a donor if at least 50 percent of the cost of the building has been given by that donor in the form of either cash or funds derived over a maximum five-year pledge period.

Engineering Center Under Construction at Penn State York Thanks to $750,000 Gift

Renovations are underway to the old chemistry labs at Penn State York which will be transformed into a state-of-the-art engineering facility, the Ralph G. and Madeline B. Swenson Engineering Center, thanks to the generous $750,000 gift from the Swenson Family Foundation. The chemistry labs are now a part of the recently opened Edward M. Elias Science Building.

“This is an exciting gift to the campus because it celebrates three generations of the Swenson family supporting Penn State York – the parents, the Swenson siblings, and Ralph and Madeline’s grandchildren,” said Di Hershey, director of development at Penn State York.

The vacated chemistry labs will be turned into a cutting edge engineering center consisting of three basic areas: two large classrooms and a machine shop. The extensive renovation will more than quadruple the programs current electro-mechanical engineering technology (EMET) and mechanical engineering technology (MET) space from two labs at 1,220 square feet to three areas totaling 5,100 square feet. These new facilities will help ensure that Penn State York remains at the forefront of engineering education in the region.

The center will house a large classroom on the east side of the building (approximately 2,000 square feet) with computer workstations and multi-directional instruction capabilities, utilizing projection systems with multiple screens. The west classroom will accommodate up to 25 students with a dedicated area for light engineering equipment, CNC machines, and robotics equipment. This room will be adjacent to a heavy machine shop. The Machine Shop will have a flexible open plan and is designed for heavy engineering equipment and machinery.

Both classrooms contain perimeter storage for smaller equipment and supplies as well as student projects. There will also be some faculty office space and a new gallery/corridor with display areas for student work.

A new entrance will be constructed on the exterior of the existing building, the John J. Romano Administration Building, to highlight the new center. The entrance will include an interior water feature.

“We are pleased and honored to carry on the legacy of our parents and grandparents, Ralph and Madeline Swenson, for future generations,” said members of the Swenson family Jessica Christensen ‘04, Greg Swenson, Carol Tanzola, Gary Swenson, and Kristan Winand.

The late Ralph G. Swenson began actively serving on the Penn State York Advisory Board in 1976. In 1985 he began serving in emeritus status and continued on the board through 2006 when he died. His daughter, Carol Tanzola, took over the tradition as a member of the board in 2007 and continues to serve today.

Equipment and motorcycle parts that date back to the time when the late Swenson had a leadership role at Harley-Davidson York will be featured in the lobby area of the center between the classrooms. Swenson was president of the Harley-Davidson York operation and was one of the 13 executives who purchased Harley-Davidson Inc. from AMF in 1981

Total cost of the project is approximately $1.35 million, with the additional funds coming from other private philanthropy. The projected completion date for the center is the summer of 2011.