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Naming of Arbuckle building honors former Penn State New Kensington CEO

Robert Arbuckle
Robert Arbuckle
11/14/2011 —


Science and Technogy Center named after former Campus Executive Officer

University Park, Pa. — Penn State’s Board of Trustees Nov. 11 approved the naming of the Robert D. Arbuckle Technology Building at Penn State New Kensington, in recognition of the former campus executive officer.

"Dr. Arbuckle has been a vital part of Penn State New Kensington’s growth for more than 40 years," said Kevin Snider, campus chancellor. "His unending energy, humor, and devotion to his profession served not only the campus, but the community as well."

Arbuckle, who holds master's and doctorate degrees from Penn State, began his career in 1968 as a professor of history at the University Park campus and six years later was appointed chief academic officer at the New Kensington campus. In 1977, he was named campus executive officer and remained at Penn State New Kensington for fifteen years. Arbuckle assumed the presidency of Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., in 1992. He retired ten years later.

Under Arbuckle's leadership, the New Kensington campus expanded both academically and physically. Two associate degree programs--Radiology Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Technology--were added in the 1980s. The two programs were the first to be offered by a Penn State campus.

Arbuckle also envisioned a new building complex that would serve the needs of students and businesses in the region. He wanted the campus to become more interactive with business and industry in the area, and he wanted local companies "to use our computers."

Coalescing community leaders, he spearheaded a capital campaign for the construction of the two-building Science and Technology Center. The opening of the first building in 1990 made the campus one of the most technically advanced in the Penn State system. That building, now named after Arbuckle, is home to many specialized engineering laboratories that enable students to pursue innovative programs in technology.

Although phase two took another ten years to complete, Arbuckle's campus/business collaboration became a reality in 2000 with the dedication of the multi-purpose Conference Center and Classroom Building by Penn State President Graham Spanier. By partnering with industry in the region, the University increased its presence in the Alle-Kiski Valley. Last year, more than 60 regional organizations utilized the facilities for meetings, training classes, seminars and workshops

In addition to his leadership aplomb on campus, Arbuckle had the same self-assurance onstage. In 1992, theatre director Lil Coury asked him to audition for the campus stage production of "Brigadoon."  While the campus executive officer had a deft touch in giving direction, the would-be-thespian was equally adept at taking direction. He won the role of the elder school master, Mr. Lundie. The play sold out all performances, and it remains the most popular production in campus history

After moving on to Lake Superior, Arbuckle continued in his role as visionary. He was instrumental in expanding the Walker Cisler Student Center, renovating the Student Activity Center, ice arena and library, and breaking ground for the Fine Arts Center. Upon his retirement, he was awarded the title of President Emeritus, and the Student Activities building was named in his honor.

Upon retirement, Arbuckle returned to his hometown area of Washington Township in western Pennsylvania and resumed his bond with the campus. In 2004, he was named an Alumni Fellow, the most prestigious award given by the Penn State Alumni Association. The distinction is reserved for alumni who are leaders in their professional fields. The New Kensington campus boasts two other alumni fellows: Charles Carson (2002) and Barbara Arnold (2011).

Complementing his standing at the campus is his presence in the community. Arbuckle has served as president and chair of several local boards including Rotary, YMCA, United Way, chambers of commerce, and hospitals. He has received numerous awards including the University’s John E. Wilkerson Award for Administrative Excellence and Rotary International's Legacy to Children award for his work in polio eradication.

Arbuckle and his wife, Lorraine, have three children—Lisa, Robert, and Jeffrey. Lisa and Robert are Penn State graduates.

Penn State New Kensington was founded in 1958 as a result of a study of the local need for higher education in the Alle-Kiski Valley. From its roots in a remodeled high school building on Fourth Avenue in the city of New Kensington, the campus has evolved into a modern educational facility on seventy-two wooded acres in the township of Upper Burrell. Today, more than 800 students matriculate on campus and are studying in fourteen associate and bachelor’s degree programs.

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