Construction of Williamson College of the Trades’ newest dormitory got underway with the groundbreaking ceremony for the Judith A. and William B. Strine Dormitory on June 5.
President Michael Rounds said, “This is a super important event in the history of Williamson, groundbreaking for the Strine Dormitory. This new dorm is being made possible thanks to the generous gift of our trustee Bill Strine and his wife Judy. They saw the importance of educating our young men in the Williamson way, and they did something about it. They stepped up and offered the resources to make it happen. Williamson owes a great deal to Bill and Judy Strine and the entire Strine family. They have made and continue to make a major impact with their generosity.”
William Strine, long-term Williamson trustee and CEO of Media Real Estate, said “My wife Judy and I are both pleased and honored to sponsor this new dorm that will allow the school to grow by 20-24 more students. This is a dream we have all had for many years. This comes at a time when the market place needs Williamson Men more than ever.”
Rounds said, “For many years we have been dreaming of increasing our student enrollment so more young men can benefit from a Williamson education. Every year we turn away a couple hundred good applicants because we don’t have enough space for them and every year we turn away a hundred plus companies who would love to hire a Williamson man but there are not enough of them graduating.
“You can’t Zoom a Williamson education. Williamson is not a commuter campus; it is about being here in our community, waking up every morning, going to lineup, going to chapel and shop, going to class, going to activities, and to be totally exhausted and going to bed and getting up the next day and doing it again. That’s what Williamson is. To expand this, we need this new dormitory.”
Strine said he and his wife Judy decided to make the gift because they feel their family is the direct beneficiary of a Williamson graduate and with this sponsorship they wanted to do their part in giving back to the school that has benefited them.
He said, “My father was able to have a successful career because of his Williamson education and my family and I are benefactors of my father’s success. We feel blessed and honored to be able to help in this manner. If my dad were here this is something he would be doing and I know we have made him smile this day. We are proud and honored to be a part of Williamson’s future and thank you for this privilege and honor.”
Rounds added that Bill and Judy Strine love Williamson and its mission. “Bill has been providing volunteer executive leadership to Williamson for over two decades. He joined our board in November 2000. He is secretary of the board, on the Executive Committee, the Governance Committee, the Investment and Compliance Committee, the recent Campus Master Planning Task Force, and the Architectural Review Committee.”
William Strine is CEO of Media Real Estate, a successful real estate company in Media, Pa., founded by his father, Walter Strine 2W9 over 65 years ago. An impressive part of the company’s philosophy is giving back to others.
Rounds said, “Walter was a Williamson Man and modeled that for his family. The Strine family has contributed to Williamson for many decades with their time, talent, and treasure. The Strine Learning Center was a gift from the Strine family and Bill and his brother Walter funded the summer Rook Program. Judy works as a volunteer leader in the not-for-profit community at Elwyn and Tyler Arboretum and numerous other organizations.”
Strine said he and his brother are not Williamson graduates, but were introduced to Williamson discipline years ago. “We feel like Williamson graduates because we spent about ten years in the trenches. Our father was a bricklayer graduate and he decided he would teach us the trade in the summer. When we were teenagers we learned to stucco, lay bricks and blocks, and even plastered a few houses. He imparted the Williamson discipline to us as we grew and he paid us $1 an hour.”
Board chairman William Bonenberger 7W9 said, “It has been Strine’s goal for a long time to increase enrollment. He wants to provide that same opportunity his father got to more deserving young men. We get 400 applications each year and turn 300 away and take 100. It is Strine’s leadership and his commitment with this dorm that is going to push us to bringing in 120 students starting in the fall of 2022. You say 20 students. That’s 20 lives you changed.”
He added that not only are 20 lives changed, but the future family members of those 20 will also benefit for generations afterwards.
Bonenberger said the Strine Dorm, which will be constructed on the west side of Longstreth Dormitory, was designed by Kevin Blackney 7W6, co-owner of Blackey Hayes Architects, to mimic the dorms designed by Frank Furness, maintaining the historical integrity of the campus. He added that overseeing the project will be Corey Jackson 0W3, vice president of operations, and Dave Lucey 0W7, project superintendent with W.S. Cumby Construction, the builders who will construct the dormitory.
Sean Howat opened and closed the ceremony with prayer.
Taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony were: Sean Howat, assistant chaplain; John Tully, director of residence life; Kevin Blackney 7W6, co-owner of Blackney Hayes Architects and designer of the Strine Dormitory; Judy and Bill Strine, whose generous gift made construction of the new dormitory possible; President Michael Rounds; Dave Lucey 0W7, a construction manager with W.S. Cumby Construction; and William Bonenberger 7W9, board chairman.