A Dream Come True

The new academic building, the first structure on the central campus to be dedicated to teaching and learning in more than 20 years, opened with the fanfare of brass and the fellowship of campus and community on October 18.

Its tall arched windows, the height of the three-story building, bore nary a fingerprint, and its classrooms and offices had the smell of new wood, new paint, and new carpet.

A crowd of students and faculty, trustees and custodians, administrators and city officials gathered in its plaza for the ribbon-cutting. Afterward, the building was open for tours. The Psychology Department, which had moved in the week before, had the tables turned on it. Instead of observing and analyzing the reactions of others, they sat in their offices and answered questions about the size, airiness, and comfort level of their new digs. (The departments of sociology, mathematics and computer science, and education will move in after Christmas.)

And it has a name, so we can stop calling it the new academic building. It is now the Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Complex, in recognition of Mrs. Hurd’s generous contributions to Moravian College over the years.

President Rokke called it “a perfectly appointed stage for a less visible but much more dramatic event. That event has played itself out at Moravian for centuries. It begins when the corridors are quiet and the classroom doors are closed. It is another construction project of sorts, one with ideas as its materials, teaching as its tools, discovery and enlightenment as its resource, and our students’ future its edifice.”

After a welcome from Don Cunningham, mayor of Bethlehem, who joked that if Mrs. Hurd continued to make her mark on the community at her current rate, he might have to consider renaming the city, and from trustee Stephen Donches, who noted that the building had achieved its opening on time and under budget, Mrs. Hurd spoke with her characteristic briskness:

“This building has been a dream of our College for almost 30 years,” she said. “I am grateful . . . for our faculty, who will carry on with much more important work in this building, long after the last nail is driven . . . and above all, for our students. You make everything that we have done worthwhile.”

The crowd at the dedication of the Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Complex admires the building’s atrium after Mrs. Hurd cuts the ribbon.

Photo: John Kish IV