Widener Opens Freedom Hall, Home to Communication Studies, Computer Science and Informatics

Widener University on Wednesday officially opened Freedom Hall, a new academic building housing communication studies, computer science and informatics.

The building provides a state-of-the-art facility for research and scholarship in communications and technology fields. Features include a TV-studio with floor to ceiling windows to give it a "Today Show" feel and a separate space for a cyclorama wall – or green screen – that enables students to produce any batv studiockground for media projects. The building also includes audio and video editing suites, focus group rooms, Mac and PC computer labs, a computer forensics lab with highly specialized hardware and software and a parallel processing computer with 408 cores (CPUs) plus 4,992 graphics processors for research and teaching purposes.

"Freedom Hall will allow us to change the world one step at a time," said Courtney Pio, a senior communication studies major. Speaking at the building's dedication ceremony, Pio noted how Widener students are already working with community organizations, many right in Chester, to assist with marketing and communication needs through service-learning courses and senior projects. She said that the technology in Freedom Hall will help them to better support these community partners with higher-quality products. "That's what Freedom Hall is all about," she said. "It's a place that allies our moral sense to the power of communications."

The 28,500-square-foot, three-story building was constructed according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. According to Thomas Perrino, principal at Spiezle Architects of Trenton, N.J., which designed the building, Freedom Hall has energy-saving and sustainable features that result in it using 30 percent less water and operating 18-20 percent more efficient in terms of energy usage than coding requires. Perrino also said that 30 percent of the building's materials came from recycled items and 30 percent came from within the region to reduce the carbon footprint created by transportation.

Widener received $3 million in state funding through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to help fund the $15 million project. Widener University President James T. Harris III credited Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) with helping the university secure the funding.

The university did not take on any additional debt in the construction of Freedom Hall and sees the new building as an opportunity to grow enrollment in three fast-growing areas of study and produce graduates with skill sets in high demand, especially in the Greater Philadelphia Region.

Freedom Hall was built by HSC Builders and Construction Managers of Exton, Pa.

Widener University is a metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university's campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve more than 6,300 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free campus. Visit the university's website, www.widener.edu.

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