Widener University recently opened Founders Hall, the university’s first “green” academic building and home of the School of Nursing and the Oskin Leadership Institute.
The 35,000-square-foot, three-story building was constructed according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
Widener President James T. Harris III said the building was named for the many people who helped found the university throughout the years, from its origins as a Quaker boarding school for boys, to a military college and finally as a comprehensive university dedicated to civic engagement and the development of leaders.
“This university is the legacy of their leadership,” he said. “They all have buildings named after them, but their true legacy is not the brick and mortar buildings with their names etched in stone, it is the thousands of graduates from this institution that they have helped develop who have gone on to be leaders and founders in their own right — people who have served as generals, members of Congress, judges, CEOs, authors, artists and teachers. That is their true legacy, and that legacy that we will continue to develop through the Oskin Leadership Institute and the School of Nursing.”
The building provides a modern facility for research and scholarship in the field of leadership, and unparalleled laboratories and classrooms for the teaching and learning of modern nursing practices.
It features a variety of laboratories to simulate real-world nursing experiences including a hospital simulation lab, an intensive care unit-trauma lab, a pediatrics suite, an obstetrics suite, and even an apartment lab to simulate a home-care situation.
The new building is also the home to the Oskin Leadership Institute, which provides a variety of opportunities for Widener students to participate in leadership development activities, experiential learning, and international opportunities.
The institute will also work with corporations and other organizations to offer an executive leadership program, providing opportunities for corporate and non-profit executives to enhance their global leadership skills. The institute was named after the family of David W. and JoEllen Oskin, who donated a $5 million gift to Widener University in November 2008.
“This building has everything you would want or need as a nursing student,” said nursing student of Widener University. “I graduate in May, but I’m very excited for my fellow students, and those students who are considering coming to Widener. They will have the benefit of a state-of-the-art facility, receive a first-class education and have unparalleled leadership opportunities.”
The building, which cost about $15 million, was partially funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Higher Education Assistance program. The remaining balance is being paid through increased enrollment in the School of Nursing, which is admitting an additional 25 students per year.
Widener University’s global leadership initiatives recently received a $1 million financial commitment from the family of university trustee Richard Tan, the founder and president of Pacific Millennium Holdings Corporation of Shanghai, China.
Tan gave the $1 million gift to the Oskin Leadership Institute at Widener to expand partnerships between Widener and universities in the People’s Republic of China, with an emphasis on students and faculty learning each others’ languages, culture and ways of doing business.
Over the past three years, Tan has been a strong supporter of the Oskin Leadership Institute and has been instrumental in creating and cultivating partnerships between Widener and universities in China, especially Chongqing Technology and Business University.
So far, 97 Widener and Chongqing students and faculty have participated in exchanges between the two universities.
“I am impressed with the mission and vision of the Oskin Leadership Institute and its emphasis on developing global leadership,” he said. “Because of the institute, Widener is only going to get stronger and its reputation will swell.”
The Oskin family made a $5 million donation to Widener in November 2008 to establish the Oskin Leadership Institute.
The institute strives to perpetuate Widener’s long-standing tradition of leadership and service by inspiring students to be strategic leaders and responsible citizens who possess the character, courage and competencies to achieve positive change throughout the world.
“I’m very grateful for Richard’s friendship, his wise counsel and his staunch support of the Oskin Leadership Institute,” said founder of the Oskin Leadership Institute David W. Oskin. “His work has opened new doors not only to Widener students and faculty, but also to students and faculty from China.”
Aside from achieving great success as a business leader, Tan has been heavily involved in social and political activities throughout his career.
Tan is currently vice chairman of the Shanghai Chamber of International Commerce. He is an advocate for Asian economic growth and development, and is recognized as a driving force for many multi-nation joint ventures and cross-cultural pioneering projects.
A Widener trustee since May, Tan also received an honorary doctorate in international business from Widener in May 2009.
In addition to the Oskin Leadership Institute, which opened in October, Widener has expanded its leadership initiatives to include the High School Leadership Awards scholarship program in conjunction with NBC 10 and the Voices of Leadership initiative to recognize leaders in business and industry.
Widener President James T. Harris III said the generous gift from the Tan family will greatly enhance the university commitment to incorporating a global perspective into its leadership initiatives.
“Through Richard’s work, Widener has been able to add a rich global perspective to our leadership initiatives that has been life-altering for so many of our students and faculty,” he said. “This generous gift from Richard and his family will help us broaden those programs, putting us squarely on the path to becoming a premiere university for global leadership.”