The recently constructed Judith A. and William B. Strine Dormitory, Williamson’s first new dorm in five years, officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 19.
Offering rooms for 24 students, the dorm has allowed for the largest freshman class in school history, the Class of 2W5, with 124 freshmen beginning their 3-year Williamson journey.
The dorm was made possible because of the very generous gift of $2.3 million from Judy and Bill Strine.
Strine, a member of the board of trustees, said he and his wife decided they wanted to help the school that helped them and their family. Bill Strine’s father, Walter Strine 2W9, studied masonry at Williamson and went on to found the Media Real Estate Co. and make it a successful company. When Walter retired, Bill took over the company as CEO and has been furthering its success.
Bill said, “My family is the direct beneficiary of a Williamson graduate. My father was able to have a successful career because of his Williamson education and my family is a beneficiary of my father’s success. Our lives would have been quite different were it not for Williamson. We feel blessed and honored to be able to help the school that helped us in this manner. If my father were here today this is something he would be doing. He certainly is smiling down on us right now.
“This is an exciting time to be a part of Williamson. Judy and I are pleased to be able to help Williamson increase its enrollment by 23, a dream held by the trustees for some time. Because of this dorm, we are able to increase the number of students who come in and, consequently, expand the number of students who graduate. This dorm is increasing the enrollment by nearly 25 percent. It’s been a goal of ours for sometime to increase the graduation numbers and, eventually, to add new trades to our curriculum.”
Speaking to the entire freshman class, who were in attendance, as well as guests, trustees, faculty, staff, and alumni, he said “Hang on because it’s worth the trip. When you graduate from Williamson it not only affects you, but your kids and even their kids.”
President Michael Rounds, in his opening remarks, said “This is an exciting day, we are celebrating a major milestone in Williamson history. Fourteen months ago we were standing in this same spot for the groundbreaking. For many years we had been dreaming of increasing our student enrollment so more young men could benefit from a Williamson education. The construction of this dorm has finally made this dream a reality. This dorm will allow us to accept an additional 23 freshmen. The Class of 2W5 is the largest to ever come to Williamson since we began accepting students in 1890.
“Every year we turn away a good number of applicants because we don’t have space for them. And, every year we turn away many companies at our Career Fairs who want to hire Williamson graduates because there aren’t enough graduates to go around. This new dorm will help us alleviate this situation.”
He pointed out that the Watson Dorm, named in honor of board chairman Wayne Watson 4W8, when it was built, was the first new dorm since 1912. It was not built to increase enrollment, but to provide an additional dorm to allow the renovation of the older dorms that needed updating.
“We thank Bill and Judy Strine for this wonderful, new dorm. Their generosity made the construction of the dorm possible. Not only will an additional 23 young men have the trajectory of their lives shaped forever in a positive way, but there is a ripple effect. They will go out into the world as Williamson Men, with our core values guiding them in all that they do. They will make good husbands and fathers, they will be assets to their communities, and have an exemplary work ethic. But it doesn’t end there. Their Williamson legacy will inspire their children to follow in their footsteps and live good lives, and, later, their grandchildren, and on and on. Williamson Men make a positive difference in the world and the more men who benefit from a Williamson education, the bigger positive difference we can make for our communities and our country.”
Guest remarks were given by Pennsylvania state senator John Kane (9th District), who said, “I was a plumber for 41 years. Every skill you learn will help you get employed. You are being offered an awesome career right here that is going to help you purchase a home, raise a family, and send them to school.”
Pennsylvania state representative Chris Quinn (168th District), in his guest remarks, said he is pleased Williamson is in Middletown Township. “It’s a blessing and is shared by so many. It’s because of generous donors like the Strines.”
Chaplain Mark Specht 7W7 gave the invocation and benediction.
In attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony were alumni, representing career mentors, Williamson Association of Alumni (WAA) leadership, and 50-year affiliate class committee members.
The dormitory was designed by Kevin Blackney 7W6, co-owner of Blackey Hayes Architects. He designed the dorm in the style of dorms designed by Frank Furness, maintaining the historical integrity of the campus.
W.S. Cumby Construction, of Springfield, Pa., built the dormitory with Dave Lucey 0W7 serving as project superintendent.
After the cutting of the ribbon, guests toured the new building and attended a BBQ with the incoming freshman class.
For those who were unable to attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, watch the archived video at https://youtu.be/o44wk9nBntQ.