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Posts from the ‘Sewall Center’ Category

Who Was Gus Krop?

University’s are always bragging about their shiny new, state-of-the-art facilities—and rightly so. When RMU built Joe Walton Stadium in 2005, for example, it was yet another example of how the university was growing and continuing to enhance the overall experience of its students.

But as we celebrate the new, it’s also important to revere the old.

As you walk into John Jay Center, the first door on your left leads into the Gus Krop Gym. This is a special place. Wooden rafters support the large domed ceiling – a feature not seen in many modern gyms – and old-fashioned bleachers sit on just one side of the court, recalling the days when the university was much smaller. It a warm, cozy place that reminds me of the small-town gymnasiums in “Hoosiers,” the 1986 basketball classic staring Gene Hackman.

Gus Krop (1917-2005) is known as the founder of RMU basketball. From 1963 to 1976, he led the Colonials to an impressive record of 287-58. Krop coached nine All-Americans at then Robert Morris College, and, in 1969, he took the Colonials to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) title game. It was the success of Krop’s teams in the mid to late 1960s that really helped market Robert Morris and put it on the map, so to speak.

After retiring from coaching in 1976, Krop became the university’s director of security until he retired altogether in 1997.

Today, the men’s and women’s basketball teams play over in Sewell Center Arena, and the Gus Krop Gym is mainly used for RMU’s indoor intramural activities. But hopefully this little gym that holds the ghosts of teams past will always serve as a tribute to one of RMU’s greatest coaches.

— Valentine J. Brkich

Local Veterans Discuss Issues at RMU

This afternoon, approximately 200 other people braved the sweltering August heat to gather in the International Suite in Sewall Center at Robert Morris University for a special meeting with U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and retired U.S. Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The purpose of the meeting was to allow members of the audience discuss various issues concerning veterans. About half of those in attendance were veterans, with those who served in World War II all the way up to those who have served in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After a brief welcome from RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Sen. Specter addressed the room, voicing his intentions to do what he can for local veterans. Both Specter and his brother are veterans themselves, and their father served and was wounded in World War I.

Before the members of the audience were given the floor, Secretary Shinseki stated that it was his goal to make the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) the “provider of choice for all vets” within the next five years. He also said that the new G.I. Bill is “as good as or better” than that of 1944—a bill that provided a college education for millions of veterans. Shinseki added that the V.A.’s budget would be increasing by 15% in 2010, which will be the largest increase for the department by any president in the past 30 years.

As the floor was opened up to questions, various veterans voiced their concerns over such issues as the lack of benefits, joblessness, and even homelessness among veterans. In fact, at least three of those in attendance were homeless vets themselves. As each issue was raised, both Secretary Shinseki and Sen. Specter responded with their intentions to do whatever was necessary to find a proper and timely resolution.

RMU has made a strong commitment to members of the armed services through things like the Yellow Ribbon Program, the Veterans Business Outreach Center, and ROTC. Earlier this year, the university announced its new Military Service Award, which will enable veterans who qualify for full benefits under the new Post-9/11 GI Bill to enroll tuition-free in any of the university’s undergraduate or graduate programs. We were among the first private universities in the country to offer such a program.

RMU Shares Its Ideas on G-20 Summit 2009

In case you’ve been living in a cave lately or some remote part of South Dakota (i.e., anywhere in South Dakota), you’ve probably heard that Pittsburgh has been chosen to host the next G-20 Summit, September 24-25. This is a BIG deal for our region. It’s an incredible opportunity for us to really shine and show the rest of the world what a vibrant, cultural, livable city this is.

Just think, in only a few short months representatives from 19 countries will be descending upon our fair city to discuss the future of the global economy. Whatever they decide, it’s sure to be the biggest news story that week. Fortunately the planners had the foresight not to plan the meeting during a Steelers game; otherwise, the summit would have gotten second billing in the Monday papers.

Today Robert Morris University got to play a part in the planning (unintentional alliteration) of the G-20 Summit when it hosted one of three “Welcome the World” brainstorming sessions, aimed at gathering ideas from the public on the best ways to welcome the G-20 to Pittsburgh this September. Over 200 people packed into the Sewall Center’s International Suite (How apropos!), including various dignitaries like RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo; Bill Flanagan, executive V.P. of corporate relations for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and host of “Our Region’s Business” on WPXI-TV; Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato; Jon Delano, political analyst for KDKA-TV; and some other guy with a purple sport coat and blue-plaid slacks who was passing out a manifesto that he wrote at 3 o’clock this morning (sorry, didn’t get his name).

As I sat an listened to person after person approach the microphone, each with a unique idea of how to best promote the city in the months leading up to the event, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if the G-20 Summit was being held on the RMU campus. Here’s how I think the event would go:

• After the morning session, Paul Spradley, assistant director of Student Life for Multicultural Affairs, would take all the leaders to Primanti’s over on University Boulevard for a Kolbassi & Cheese and an ice-cold Iron.
• During the afternoon break, everyone would go for a walk in the Magical Forest and then stop at the Rudolph Family Garden for some peaceful meditation. Meanwhile, Dr. Dell’Omo would invite President Barack Obama back to his office to show him that cool trick with the fly.
• After dinner in the Food Court, the delegates would gather down in the Jefferson Center Recreational Center for a spirited table tennis tournament, with the losers paying off the winning country’s national debt.
• International controversy would break out in the university’s newly renovated dorms as the various leaders squabbled over who gets the top bunk.
• Over the course of the two days, G-20 security would be keeping a close eye on the big smiley guy called RoMo.

At least that’s how I think it would go.

On second thought, maybe it’s better that they’re having it downtown. That table tennis tournament could get pretty heated.

–Valentine J. Brkich

Robert Morris is a Yinzer!

Robert Morris University’s official colors may be blue and white, but recently we’ve been basking in the Black & Gold of Pittsburgh!

Yes, sir, it sure is a great time to be here in the Steel City, or should I say, the City of Champions. Things couldn’t be more exciting in Pittsburgh right now, and RMU is so glad to be a part of it.

• On June 12, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1 in the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Finals. This was great news not only for Pittsburgh in general but also for a big hockey school like RMU, whose men’s hockey and women’s hockey programs have also experienced a lot of growth and success in recent years.

• Back in February, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in a thrilling Super Bowl XVIII, which like the Stanley Cup, came down to the final seconds. RMU even had connections working on the field for both sides during the big game.

• And the Pittsburgh Pirates…er…um…did I mention the Penguins won the Stanley Cup! (Keep pluggin’ away, Buccos!)

And Pittsburgh isn’t just getting recognized for its sports teams either.

• In late May, the White House announced that Pittsburgh would be hosting the next G20 economic summit this September 24-25 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, which, by the way, is the only other conference facility in the city larger than our own Sewall Center here at RMU.

• In June, The Economist magazine named Pittsburgh the most liveable city in the U.S., and ranked us 29th in the world! This is another honor for the city, which was named America’s “Most Livable City” in 2007 in the 25th anniversary edition of Rand McNally’s “Places Rated Almanac.”

• And just this week Pittsburgh was listed 18th on the Brookings Institution listing on the strength of local economies.

Here at RMU, however, we don’t need anyone to tell us how great Pittsburgh is (although it is nice). We’ve always known what a vibrant, cultured, friendly city this is, and our students are lucky to be located in such an up-and-coming region.

I wonder what our namesake Robert Morris would think of all this? You might think a guy like him Founding Father, powdered wig, stockings, etc. would be a little stuffy and not get caught up in all the excitment. I disagree. I bet he’d be swelling with Pittsburgh pride and eating a Primanti Bros. sandwich (capicola, cheese, and egg) while screaming “Let’s go Pens!” from the top of Mt. Washington (or, as they say in Pittsburghese, “Mt. WARSH-ington”).

After all, that’s just the kind of guy he was.

Invasion of The Strange Blue Metal Thingy

You’d think summertime on a university campus would be a quiet, peaceful time. After all, what is a university, really, but a community of students. With commencement last weekend, the last of the remaining students on campus packed up their futons, PlayStations, and shower shoes and rode off into the sunset, so to speak.

For a couple days, things really were quiet around here. The parking lots were empty, the Food Court was closed, and it seemed like I had the entire 230-acre campus to myself.

But here at RMU, there’s always something going on, no matter what time of year it is.

When I came to work on Tuesday, the previously bare parking lots were now packed with vehicles, the majority of them pick-up trucks. There was also some sort of contraption – I call it The Strange Blue Metal Thingy – planted in the parking lot just across the street from the Sewall Center. At lunchtime I went for a walk to do a little investigating and found out that the reason for all these cars (and The Strange Blue Metal Thingy) was the Eastern Gas Compression Roundtable (EGCR). The EGCR, according to its website, “is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to provide the Natural Gas Industry with cost effective training programs,” and it was holding its annual conference right here in RMU’s Sewall Center.

Inside the 36,000-square-foot arena, 140 or so exhibitors had set up booths and were sharing information on their services, training programs, and all the latest innovations in the industry. I thought about asking someone about The Strange Blue Metal Thingy, but I didn’t want to reveal my ignorance about the natural gas industry in front of so many experts. So I just let it be.

Apparently, the EGCR conference is just one of the thousands – yes, thousands – of events that RMU hosts each year. Andrea L Plummer, RMU’s senior manager of Conference and Facility Services, said the EGCR conference is just one of over 2,000 events held in the Sewall Center this fiscal year alone. “We have back to back major events until middle of June,” she says, “and then we have to get ready for summer camps. People don’t realize how busy we are around here. The summer, in particular, is very active.”

In the next month alone, RMU will be hosting a baseball card show (May 15–18), the Y108 Country Cares for Cops benefit concert (May 18), a coin show (May 22–24), Basketball Stars of America (May 29–31), Montour High School’s graduation (June 3), Quaker Valley High School’s graduation (June 4), the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam (June 6), and Moon High School’s graduation (June 12). Whew!

The reason so many events come to RMU is because of its scenic grounds and spacious facilities. The Sewall Center, itself, is the second largest exhibit space in Pittsburgh. I’ll let you guess which facility is number one.

I never did find out what The Strange Blue Metal Thingy was. But that’s okay. Sometimes mysteries are more romantic, especially when it comes to natural gas.

– Valentine J. Brkich