Alvernia University names its new downtown Reading living and learning facility the John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne.
The university also announced its newly established engineering school will also share the namesake as the John R. Post School of Engineering during a celebration with University and community leaders, faculty and staff, and students, and members of the Post family on Wednesday afternoon.
The naming recognizes the university’s largest philanthropic gift in its 63-year history from John R. and Maryanne Post — longtime supporters of Catholic education, proud Alvernia parents, and founder and president of Post Precision Castings Inc., a custom manufacturer of investment castings based in Strausstown.
The gift will be used to support the School of Engineering, providing resources for operations, equipment, and the facility’s construction for the phase two expansion of the program, which will add biomedical, chemical, civil, and environmental engineering.
“I would like to acknowledge the incredible generosity of Mr. and Mrs. John Post, whose shared vision in the power of education and the transformational mission of our university will benefit generations of Alvernia students, faculty and staff,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. “Their generosity supports the Reading CollegeTowne initiative, which continues to ignite economic redevelopment in downtown Reading and is helping to shape the future of industry throughout the region.”
The university launched the CollegeTowne initiative in Reading in late 2019. Since its launch, Alvernia purchased the newly renamed John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne, a 240,000-square-foot living and learning facility at 401 Penn Street in downtown Reading, and completed the first phase of a $20 million renovation and retrofitting project.
During that time the university has also assisted over 200 small businesses and entrepreneurs through the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship’s Spark Business Incubator lab and has spurred six other development projects in vacant or abandoned buildings that has resulted in nearly 1,500,000 square feet of transformation in the downtown corridor.
“This is a great day for Alvernia University and for the City of Reading,” said Post. “I am proud to be part of the mission of this university, and of the promise it holds for our city. I look forward to seeing Reading CollegeTowne and the School of Engineering prosper in the years to come, and I thank you all for being here to join this celebration.”
The building and School of Engineering names are visible to passersby on Penn Street and throughout the interior of the building, including the school’s name at the landing of the ground floor, located outside the university’s new engineering labs.
The center is the university’s largest single facility and features many collaborative student gathering spaces, high-tech general-purpose classrooms, an esports arena, student housing and interfaith prayer spaces, and is the home of BCTV, Community First Fund, La Mega Radio and the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters’ Mother Veronica Resource Center and the region’s largest Starbucks.
“Since we opened the building last August, the John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne has been a hub for education, collaboration, important conversations and has been a beacon for positive community energy,” said Alvernia University Senior Vice President and Provost Dr. Glynis Fitzgerald. “The Posts’ transformational gift ensures this building will continue to be a resource for our community for generations to come.”
The market demands for the new Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Engineering programs were identified through collaboration with the Engineering Advisory Board, a group of local community leaders and manufacturers.
The board identified regional workforce gaps for engineering talent and innovation and will provide comprehensive experiential learning opportunities for students. The university’s first engineering students arrived in fall 2021.
“Students in Alvernia’s engineering programs are being provided applied research opportunities with faculty as undergraduates and the opportunity to engage in innovative and creative thinking and real-world problem-solving with local industry partners,” said Alvernia Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Innovation, Dean of the College of STEAM, and O’Pake COO, Dr. Rodney S. Ridley Sr.
“This gift ensures that students and faculty members will have access to the latest engineering technologies to assist them in solving the region’s biggest challenges and be a catalyst for change in Reading, Berks County and the greater southeastern Pennsylvania region.”