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Campuses spring to life

Dorm at Misericordia dedicated to late Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan.

A portrait of Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan smiles out over the crowd during the dedication of the new Msgr. McGowan student residence at Misericordia University. Addressing the audience was Donna Ellis , Director of Student Life.

Charlotte Bartizek/for the times leader

Most of the college campuses around Luzerne County are coming back to life as students move into dorms and begin settling in before classes begin next week.

Misericordia University and King’s College are experiencing record freshman enrollments this fall.

King’s has 570 freshmen starting class on Monday – the same day classes begin at Misericordia, Wilkes University, and Penn State campuses at Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton.

Luzerne County Community College students start classes on Sept. 2 at the main campus and most satellite campuses. At Misericordia, 385 freshmen are beginning classes at the Dallas Township campus, which unveiled a new residence hall, the first in 14 years. The hall, which will house 116 students, was named in honor of the late Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan, at a Friday morning dedication.

“His ability to effectively combine his clerical devotion and Christian humanitarianism, as exemplified by his public service to his Wyoming Valley home is the stuff of legend,” said Paul ”Chip” Sigel, board of trustees chairman.

McGowan, an Ashley native, died July 19, 2006. He served on the university’s board of directors for 25 years, according to President Michael MacDowell.

A bronze plaque and painting of McGowan will be displayed inside the $5.9 million building.

“It’s a long plaque, but it barely touches the surface of what Monsignor McGowan meant to Misericordia,” MacDowell said.

McGowan’s niece Gert McGowan and nephews Daniel and Leo, along with Leo’s wife Michelle, attended the ceremony.

Leo McGowan said it’s a nice way to honor his uncle.

“We’re happy. It’s a nice remembrance of Father Joe, as we called him, and he loved working with colleges in the area,” Leo McGowan said. “This is just symbolic of his work in the area and this would have made him very happy,” McGowan said.

The Sisters of Mercy founded Misericordia in 1924 as a Catholic college.

The project was funded through the McGowan Foundation and the university’s Leading from the Heart capital campaign project.

King’s, another Catholic four-year college, tries to instill the volunteer ethic in its students. King’s freshmen spent part of Friday volunteering at nonprofit agencies throughout the Wyoming Valley.

Ana Solano, a freshman from the Bronx, N.Y., worked with other students on a Habitat for Humanity project to prepare a former doctor’s office building, 171 Stanton St., for renovation. The 1,700-square-foot building, donated by Dr. Eugene Pelczar, will be turned into a four-bedroom single family home.

Although it was a hot day, Solano enjoyed the work and said the effort helped her get to know some of her classmates.

“As freshmen we don’t really know each other and get to meet more people,” said Solano, a pre-med/biology major. “It will help people feel good about themselves because they helped out and later on make them want to do more.”

Students at other colleges across the county are preparing for a new school year.

More than 950 freshmen moved into the dormitories at King’s College and Wilkes University on Thursday. Freshmen at Penn State-Hazleton moved into residence halls on Friday. New student orientation for the Hazleton campus was held today and continues through Sunday.

Upperclassmen are expected to move into the residence halls at King’s and Wilkes on Sunday.

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