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Humphreys Hall Reopens For Humphreys Scholars

September 12, 2013

Back left:  Nicholas Carter, CU senior; Front from left: Tom Williams, Friends Fiduciary Corporation Charitable Services Committee; S. Jean Wilson, retired CU professor and former Humphreys scholar; Toni Sharp, Humphreys Distribution Committee; Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital, CU President; Bruce Hunt, Friends Fiduciary Corporation Charitable Services Committee; Dr. Phylllis Dawkins, CU Provost; Dr. Tara Kent, Dean of CU's Keystone Honors Academy; Penny Golding, Humphreys Distribution Committee

Back left: Nicholas Carter, CU senior; Front from left: Tom Williams, Friends Fiduciary Corporation Charitable Services Committee; S. Jean Wilson, retired CU professor and former Humphreys scholar; Toni Sharp, Humphreys Distribution Committee; Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital, CU President; Bruce Hunt, Friends Fiduciary Corporation Charitable Services Committee; Dr. Phylllis Dawkins, CU Provost; Dr. Tara Kent, Dean of CU's Keystone Honors Academy; Penny Golding, Humphreys Distribution Committee

Humphreys Hall, the oldest academic building on the campus of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, was the center of attention on September 11, as CU's administration, faculty, staff and students gathered for a ribbon-cutting for the newly refurbished residence hall.

Built from local field stone, Humphreys hall originally opened in the early 1900s, and housed 14 Cheyney students. Named after the founder of the institution, Richard Humphreys, the 14,000 square-foot building, vacant for the past 10 years, recently underwent an extensive restoration to provide living-learning environments for a cohort of honors students known as Humphreys scholars. 

The building interior houses residential suites made up of single rooms for the scholars within the living-learning community.

"I like the Living Learning Communities because it's people who you can study with, who you can always ask for help--you don't have to always go to a professor with questions," junior economics major Travonya Kenly explained.  "It's like finding your own niche."

Common areas within the hall include a lounge, meditation room, kitchen, laundry room, and group study area.  The rooms are spacious with high ceilings reminiscent of the charm of 1800-era construction. However, these suites have all of the modern-day conveniences.

Senior biology major Christopher Stewart has been a Humphreys Scholar since his sophomore year. The peer mentor, who wants to be a pediatrician one day, studies hard and loves having his own space.

"It's amazing because I used to stay in King and then I lived in Emlen.  To be able to have my own room--it's just a blessing."

The interior renovation included replacement of building systems, reconfiguration of interior spaces, and the insertion of an elevator within the existing building envelope. The fieldstone walls, wood windows, and brick chimneys were rehabilitated, and the slate roof was replaced in kind. A 1950 one-story annex addition which had housed the public safety offices was demolished allowing the building to return to its original configuration.

Fon Wang, AIA, LEED AP of UCI Architects of Philadelphia, PA, guided the restoration project. Given the historic nature of Humphreys Hall, Wang and her team had to work hand-in-hand with historic preservation committees during the restoration.

“The building is listed as eligible according to the National Register of Historic Places,” architect Fon Wang commented. “Prior to restoration, the building was in dire need of restoration. Fortunately, all stone required for these repairs was salvaged from an adjacent structure which was disassembled as part of this project.” UCI Architects’ restoration of Humphreys Hall was awarded the 2011 Grand Jury Historic Preservation Achievement Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

"We're delighted to support it," exclaimed Tom Williams who sits on the Friends Fiduciary Corporation's Charitable Services Committee which manages the Richard Humphreys Fund which provided some of the financial support needed to re-purpose the building.

Chair of the Committee, Bruce Hunt, explained that it really would have been easier to tear the building down and start over.  

"We did the harder thing which is a tribute to the administration here at Cheyney because they really honored the history," admitted Williams.

"And it's a lot better construction than a newer building would be," conceded Hunt.

A beautiful program, developed by Dean of the Keystone Honors Academy Tara Kent, ended with President Michelle Howard-Vital and Humphreys Distribution Committee member Toni Sharp cutting the symbolic ribbon that stretched across outside of the front of the building.  Then, tours followed inside, while hors d'oeuvres and drinks were served. 

The Living Learning Community in Humphreys Hall houses 12 scholars and includes a furnished apartment for visiting scholars and dignitaries to use. 

Photo Gallery of Opening Ceremony:http://www.cheyney.edu/campusuite/modules/photo-gallery.cfm?action=modify&box_id=10193&grp_id=5700