Friday, April 10, 2009

A PITTSBURGH "GEM IN THE MAKING"...POINT PARK UNIVERSITY

In 1976, one year after my young bride, Darlene, had graduated with a degree in journalism from Point Park College, yours truly picked up his sheepskin in that very same major from that very same institution. My wife has been back to the school on a few occasions over the years. I on the other hand, am ashamed to admit, that I hadn't been back for 33 years, until just a few weeks ago that is...

Above: Point Park University's Academic Hall as seen from the Boulevard of the Allies.

My wife and I had received an invitation to attend a journalism department alumni mixer and after being away for so long, we just couldn't resist. What unbelievable progress this school has made and what gigantic plans it's now formulating for the very near future!


Above: Point Park's youthful President, Dr. Paul Hennigan, came up to my wife and I to introduce himself. That kind of atmosphere has always been a hallmark of Point Park College and I was glad to see that it hasn't changed. Dr.Hennigan has been called "fiscally conservative" but he's driving the school in a direction that is unmistakeably progressive.

The school is right now in the process of a major capital improvement campaign. Not only are existing buildings being upgraded and beautified, the school has also added several new properties and is in the process of truly creating a downtown "urban campus" at the intersection of Wood and Blvd. of the Allies.

Back in my day, Point Park College (now Point Park University) had about 2,000 students. Today, it has nearly doubled in size to over 3,800 students with 50 majors and eight graduate programs! In my day, Point Park was struggling financially and nearly closed in my freshman year. Today, the school has a $210 million master space plan in place that it is readying for launch later this year.

Just to show how far one of our classmates has come, Helen Fallon, a 1975 Point Park grad who was my wife's sorority sister way back when is now the Acting Dean of the Journalism Department! Back in my day we had Vincent J. LaBarbera as Dean and he was an ink-stained old newsman who you could just envision sitting at an editor's desk barking out orders or handing back stories to crestfallen reporters. Helen is a whole lot nicer and she doesn't yell nearly as much as "Vinnie" did (as we bravely referred to him behind his back).

lAbove: Acting Dean of Journalism, Helen Fallon: A kinder, gentler version of "Vinnie". Also notice that she has no ink stains in this modern era.

During my college years computers were still just emerging into mainstream use. For example, I can distinctly remember a fraternity brother showing me a very expensive, computerized calculator that he had signed out from the library. It was the latest thing. It actually eliminated the need for a slide ruler! Today you can buy one for $5. In journalism classes we learned paste up...literally. You trimmed your copy then ran it through a hot wax machine so that you could apply it to a heavy card stock grid sheet that was the size of a newspaper page. You would literally move the elements of a page around by using an "Exacto" knife. Talk about the stone ages. Yikes!

Today, producing "P.B. & G." is a whole lot easier although sometimes I have my share of formatting problems with "Blogger" (like tonight with this story for example). Point Park University today has grown into one of the country's largest journalism schools and it boasts many graduates in the local and national media. In fact, the Journalism Department there is getting ready to make the major transition into becoming the Journalism and Mass Communications School at Point Park University. I'm hoping they name it the Vincent J. LaBarbera School of Journalism because that man literally built the department from the ground floor up.

I was so amazed at the positive steps that this once-struggling school has managed that I thought I would run one of my famous "P.B. & G. Photo Essays" to give you an idea of just how positive the changes the school is planning will be for the downtown area. Once the construction is completed, Point Park will have completely transformed itself into one of the most interesting and exciting college campuses in the region.

Above Left: A view from the "Bridge" looking down Wood Street. Right: A unique "fish-eye view of the "Bridge".

So call me a proud alumnus, ashamed that I was away for so long, but very proud of Point Park's progress nonetheless. Now, sit back and enjoy a look at what Point Park University has in store for downtown Pittsburgh:


POINT PARK UNIVERSITY: WHAT THIS
DOWNTOWN GEM WILL SOON LOOK LIKE


Above: Architect's rendition of new Blvd. of Allies intersection along with new park in rear. Point Park will continue to stretch along Wood Street until one day it reaches First Avenue.

Above: Artist's rendition of new Lawrence Hall facade.


Above: Lawrence Hall. This building was recently outfitted with some dramatic lighting courtesy of a $100,000 grant from Duquesne Light Co.

Above: Point Park will soon have a new Playhouse for its' many Theater Arts majors along its' Wood Street campus.

Above: Refurbished Lawrence Hall and new parklet.

Above: Academic Hall at the intersection of Wood Street and Blvd. of Allies. Today the first two floors have been opened into a huge foyer that gives access to "The Bridge" that connects Lawrence Hall. The "New" Point Park University will have several new buildings incorporated into its' footprint creating an urban campus downtown.

KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK POINT PARK UNIVERSITY!!!