Gannon University Dedicates Alstadt Environmental Center

Posted: October 4, 2017

Gannon University formally dedicated the Donald M. and Judith C. Alstadt Environmental Center in a ceremony Wednesday at the facility on Brokenstraw Creek in Spring Creek, Pennsylvania.

The ceremony brought together trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, neighbors and friends of the University to celebrate the generosity of the guest of honor, Judith C. Alstadt, and the bright future that the Center holds.

The waterfront property on 3.57 acres of land will be used by Gannon University students and faculty to live, learn and conduct research in a setting that offers unparalleled direct access to diverse ecosystems.

"It is entirely fitting that we dedicate a Center that will, in turn, be dedicated to the twin pursuits of education and science. Judy Alstadt's teaching career in Erie's schools was almost four decades long while Don Alstadt was a man of science, a chemist and physicist known worldwide," said Keith Taylor, Ph.D., Gannon University president. "I can think of no better tribute to them than to carry on their life's work of increasing knowledge and passing it along to future generations."

The Center, a generous gift from Judith Alstadt that was presented to Gannon University in December, consists of two main buildings built around a 50-foot observation tower that overlooks Brokenstraw Creek and 98 acres of hardwood forest administered by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

It was built in 1968 by Alstadt and her late husband, who was chairman of LORD Corporation, as a place of retreat, reflection and immersion in nature.

This location is uniquely situated for the study of different ecosystems. Gannon University students and faculty in biology, freshwater and marine biology, environmental science, environmental engineering and other disciplines can conduct research on-site and nearby. With four bedrooms, the Center can accommodate research teams, living-learning communities, retreats, meetings and other uses central to Gannon's educational and spiritual Mission.

"The extraordinary setting of the Center presents a world of opportunities for interdisciplinary study and research," said Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs. "One of our goals at Gannon University is to provide faculty and students with opportunities to learn and conduct research together. The Center opens many avenues to such collaborations and also potential collaborations with government and non-profit agencies, and primary and secondary schools throughout the region."