Penn State Brandywine ribbon cutting

Brandywine celebrates opening of Orchard Hall, Student Union

By: Michael McDade

University leaders, campus representatives and local elected officials celebrated the completion of Penn State Brandywine’s two newest buildings with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 23. Orchard Hall is the campus’ first residence hall, while the Student Union includes the dining hall and other services.

Brandywine Chancellor Kristin Woolever welcomed students, faculty, staff and community members who gathered outside of Orchard Hall to hear several guest speakers, including Penn State President Eric Barron, usher in a new era of campus life at Brandywine.

Dr. Eric Barron at Penn State Brandywine

During his visit to Penn State Brandywine, Penn State President Eric Barron met with student leaders. 

Credit: Mel Epps, Third Eye Productions, Inc.

“Our Commonwealth Campuses are the main entry point to Penn State for the majority of our students, and they play a critical role in helping us achieve our goals of access and affordability,” said Barron. “I’m pleased we can now provide a residential campus experience for Penn State Brandywine students. Move-in was a great day for the students, as well as for their parents, who can rest easy knowing that their students are in high quality, safe and conveniently located housing.”

The first-ever group of on-campus students recently moved into the 250-bed Orchard Hall – a four-story, 73,000-square-foot residence facility. Each bedroom includes a small refrigerator and freezer, microwave, wardrobes, desks, chairs, and adjustable beds with storage space underneath.

Penn State Brandywine Move-in day

Penn State Brandywine orientation leader Peris Wambui Wamoni and the Nittany Lion help students move into their rooms during the campus' first-ever move-in day. 

Credit: Michael McDade

The Student Union is a two-story, 31,000-square-foot building that includes student recreation areas, the campus bookstore, conference space, student affairs offices, and Blue Apple Café – the campus’ new eatery. Adjacent to Blue Apple Café is Parsons Hall – a dining hall with seating for 300 students. Penn State Brandywine alumnus Gerald “Jerry” Parsons and his wife Eleanor recently made a significant gift to the University to name “Parsons Hall.”

Parsons Hall at Penn State Brandywine

The Student Union includes Blue Apple Café, the campus’ new eatery. Adjacent to the café is Parsons Hall, a dining hall with seating for 300 students. 

Credit: Michael McDade

Mark Dambly, president of Pennrose Properties and chair of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, noted that he lives adjacent to the campus and that the new facilities will play an important role in the local community.

“Building a residence hall at this campus is really important to the financial stability and sustainability of our Commonwealth system,” said Dambly. “The vibrancy that students will bring to our community is going to be a great opportunity for the township. Take a moment to celebrate the accomplishment here — it’s meaningful.”

Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth campuses and executive chancellor, said she began her Penn State career as Brandywine’s director of academic affairs and noted the growth the campus has achieved.

Penn State Brandywine's new Student Union.

Penn State Brandywine's new Student Union. 

Credit: Michael McDade

“Today we celebrate the opportunities and experiences these new buildings will create for our students to fully engage in college life,” said Hanes. “We also celebrate the remarkable achievements of this wonderful campus at its 50-year milestone. It’s been an extraordinary journey and a wonderful evolution.”

Pennsylvania Senator Tom Killion, who attended classes at Brandywine in the mid-1970s and formerly served on the campus advisory board, commented on his time at Brandywine and how much the campus has grown.

“When I arrived at this campus in 1975 it was one building,” said Killion. “Our ‘student union’ was two trailers welded together with three plastic tables and some vending machines. But this place changed my life. I owe much of what I’ve been able to accomplish to Penn State.”

Orchard Hall at Penn State Brandywine

Orchard Hall, Penn State Brandywine's first residence hall. 

Credit: Mel Epps, Third Eye Productions, Inc.

Also participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony were: Gerald Parsons, immediate past chair of the Penn State Brandywine Advisory Board and chairman and CEO of Communications Test Design, Inc.; Neeka Pharaud, president of Brandywine’s student government association; Gail Hurley, recently retired associate vice president for auxiliary and business services at Penn State and her successor, John Papazoglou; Laura Guertin, chair of the Brandywine faculty senate and professor of earth sciences; Mario Civera and Colleen Morrone, chair and vice chair of the Delaware County Council; Pennsylvania Representative Christopher Quinn; Stephen Byrne of Middletown Township Council; and the Nittany Lion.

More on Penn State Brandywine

Penn State Brandywine is located on 112 acres in Middletown Township, Delaware County, with an enrollment of about 1,400 students. The campus offers two associate degrees, 12 baccalaureate degrees and the first two years of more than 150 additional baccalaureate degrees that can be completed at another Penn State campus.