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Ribbon cutting officially opens the door on new Academic Commons



While rain pelted the windows of the fourth floor assembly room of the new Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons, the celebration inside was far from dreary. The ceremonial ribbon cutting, marking the end of an era, officially closed down Blackwell Library and welcomed a new  Academic Commons.

“It’s only fitting [Patricia R. Guerrieri’s] memory will live on in a facility that encourages students to grow and learn,” President Janet Dudley-Eshbach said to the packed room. “The need for a new library was the primary motivator for this facility; we are really in heaven right now.”

The $117 million dollar building, $8 million of which was donated by the Guerrieri Family Foundation, features 600-plus computers, 85 large monitors for classrooms and study areas, 24-hour student study spaces, 15 group study rooms and 12 classrooms.

The GAC is much more than a library— it also houses the Naab Research Center, Writing Center, Center for Student Achievement, TriO, Math Emporium and a new maker lab with 3D printing.

“We wanted to see how we can transform the students’ learning experiences,” President Dudley-Eshbach said.

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President Janet Dudley-Eshbach addresses a packed assembly room on the fourth floor of the GAC during the ribbon cutting ceremony. Franny Clark photo.

While the primary focus of the new GAC is for Salisbury University students, there were a lot of people behind the scenes seeing the project through to completion.

It all started when Michael Guerrieri, son of Patricia Guerrieri, approached Dudley-Eshbach asking how he and his family could help the university. The Guerrieri family has been a long-time supporter of the university with a tenure that goes back to the 1980s. Through the years they have donated millions of dollars towards scholarships and building projects around campus.

“[Patricia] loved learning and was fascinated by the intricacies of nature and history,” Michael Guerrieri said. “[This building] is a gift of love, the love of doing things for others.”

Patricia Guerrieri was an SU alumna herself back when the university was known as Maryland State Teachers College. She studied education at a campus much smaller than what it is today. Now, the GAC stands as a testament to Salisbury’s commitment to excellence and the community’s support of the university.

The ceremony concluded with speeches from Chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents James Brady and Speaker Pro Tem of the Maryland House of Delegates Adrienne Jones as they both commented on the grandiose and impressive stature of the building. However, every speaker stipulated that while the building is a great addition to the campus, the one constant — the students — are what makes the Academic Commons great.

“It’s like it’s been here forever, the students have moved in and taken over,” Dudley-Eshbach said. “This facility truly brings our campus community together.”

With the fanfare and festivities winding down, Dean of Libraries Beatriz Hardy will be overseeing the daily operations of the GAC, a role that she’s excited to be a part of.

“It’s just been a thrill to see students’ reactions when they first walk into the building and see it for the first time; literally people’s jaws have been dropping,” Hardy said. “It’s a happy buzz all over the place.”

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