Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects is a partner not only in designing new spaces for Harrisburg Area Community College’s York campus but in financially helping them further their mission.
Through numerous projects, Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects has transformed many college campuses into state-of-the-art learning centers with new, inviting spaces for students to study and gather.
That is especially true at community colleges, as the firm recognizes the importance of an affordable higher education that incorporates the latest technology.
“We have a very strong interest in community colleges,” says Frank Dittenhafer, II, FAIA, LEED AP, President of the firm. “We really have an expertise in these transformations.”
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Murphy & Dittenhafer is a partner not only in designing new facilities for these schools but in financially helping them further their mission.
In April, the firm donated a $1,000 tuition scholarship at Harrisburg Area Community College’s York campus. That gift, awarded in a drawing, was applied to a student’s tuition for a future semester. This was the fourth year of sponsorship by the firm.
The award was made during HACC’s annual Day of Giving, which included such fundraisers as a silent auction, a trivia night, T-shirt sales, a pancake breakfast, a cooking contest, and a car wash. With goods, services, and money donated by HACC staff, businesses and individuals in the community, the event raised nearly $218,000 across the college’s five mid-state campuses.
Making someone’s day
In one of six $1,000 tuition drawings on April 11 at the York campus, M&D Architect Ryan Shank, AIA pulled the name of the student who would take home the firm’s gift. He says he gravitated toward one slip of paper in the bin that wasn’t folded but instead was crumpled.
“The student was there and was extremely excited,” he says. “I think she knew it was hers before I read the name because she saw it was a crumpled-up one.”
York campus Vice President Dr. Darryl Jones was present for the drawing along with several hundred hopeful students.
“It was magical,” he says. “Ryan pulled the entry out, and the young woman started screaming with enthusiasm.”
Another popular event on campus that day was the pie-in-the-face contest, with Dr. Jones as the recipient. Students purchased tickets to get to throw a pie in an event that the chief administrator calls a rousing success.
“It was one of the most interesting and exciting things I’ve done in a long time,” Dr. Jones says. “People still remind me of that 15 seconds of fame.”
Students reaps the benefits
Underlying all the fun and excitement of the Day of Giving is the supreme importance of the event.
“It’s a signature fundraiser,” Dr. Jones explains. “This is one that galvanizes the local community, 24 hours, all-hands-on-deck to contribute to students and their educational pursuits at HACC.”
Money raised goes to the Fund for Excellence, with which HACC helps students with housing and food needs and launches cutting-edge educational programs. With the funds, the school has purchased iPads and laptop computers for student use and created an innovation lab for employee development.
Beyond the excellent working relationship with the architectural firm, Dr. Jones says HACC appreciates its unwavering support of higher education.
“I have to reiterate their relentless commitment to the York community,” he says. “When something is needed here, Frank (Dittenhafer) says yes. He and his team are loyal and trusted partners.”
A legacy of helping
Murphy & Dittenhafer’s work on the York campus has included creating an interior student commons and a writing center, an expansion of the bookstore, and redesigning restrooms. It is now designing an outdoor deck as a student-gathering spot.
Though community colleges operate on tight budgets, Shank says the firm’s projects offer big benefits.
“We feel we can do a lot with the small budgets they give us,” he says, noting that all of the projects have a major impact on students.
Shank says he is inspired when he visits the HACC York campus.
“Every time I go to the HACC campus and have interactions with students, they have amazing students with amazing stories to tell. They have a lot of non-traditional students,” he says, referring to working people, often with families, who have to balance a job with furthering their education, perhaps to land a better job.
“We want to help in any way we can,” he says.
Murphy & Dittenhafer is doing that through more than just its creative designs.
“Their generous financial investment helps us continue to be committed to providing an exceptional education and innovative technology to ensure students are ready for the work force, the community, and York companies,” Dr. Jones says. “They continue to send a clear message they care about education in the local community.”