Cal U dormitory named for alumni Ivan and Adelaide Guesman

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A residence hall at California University of Pennsylvania that went by the nondescript name of Building C was rechristened Monday with a new name in a special dedication ceremony.

It is now known as the Ivan H. and Adelaide Ivill Guesman Hall, named for two California University alumni, a married couple known for their contributions to local education and philanthropic endeavors.

Mr. Guesman, Class of 1941, is 96 years old and a native of Rices Landing in Greene County. He was an elementary schoolteacher and a school district superintendent before joining the faculty at California State College, where he taught in the Department of Education from 1968 to 1981.

Mrs. Guesman, Class of 1938, is 97 and a native of Bethel Park. She was a high school teacher before retiring after 35 years in the Jefferson Morgan schools.

The couple have established scholarships to benefit California University students, contributed to university fundraising events and funded one of the guest rooms in the Kara Alumni House, which was dedicated in honor of their parents.

They also are known for their philanthropy in Greene County, where they have contributed to projects at Waynesburg University, Southwest Regional Medical Center and Hewitt Presbyterian Church, where they were married on March 30, 1943.

At Monday's dedication ceremony, which was attended by nearly 100 guests, university President Geraldine M. Jones said the Guesmans "truly embody our university's core values of integrity, civility and responsibility. As alumni, Adelaide and Ivan are wonderful role models, in terms of both their careers and their exemplary service to others, including their alma mater. I am proud to have our university associated with this remarkable couple and am pleased to know that their names will become a permanent part of our campus landscape."

On the first floor of the newly named Guesman Hall, a plaque honoring the couple reads: "Everywhere you go, sunshine follows you." The words are the opening line to a song the couple composed and sung together at a ceremony presenting them with honorary doctorate degrees in 2008. The Guesmans were the first couple in California University history to be so honored.

The Guesmans also have received awards from the Cal U Alumni Association and the Foundation for California University. In June, the university awarded them the Lillian M. Bassi Core Values Award, one of its highest honors.

In his speech at the dedication ceremony, Thomas Uram, a member of the council of trustees, said the council voted unanimously Sept. 27 to rename the residence hall in the Guesmans' honor.

In her invocation at the ceremony, the Rev. Jana Quisenberry, pastor of the United Christian Church of California, led a prayer that began "Gracious God, we thank you for Guesman Hall, for the friendships that will begin here and for the lifelong relationships that will start in this place. May the blessings of loyalty and generosity embodied by its namesakes infuse the lives of all who live there."

According to Chris Kindl, director of communications and public relations, between 2000 and 2007, the university tore down all the old student housing on campus and replaced it with newer structures.

Guesman Hall is one of those. Two others, now simply called Buildings B and E, have yet to be renamed.

Guesman Hall, completed in 2004, contains 94,000 square feet and has two- and four-bedroom suites for more than 270 students with common areas for quiet study and socializing and a computer room.

In his congratulatory speech, Brendan Demmy, president of the Student Association Inc., told the Guesmans, "as students of your alma mater, we will pay respect to you and your generosity by learning, growing, and sharing our knowledge and love of education with others."

At the ceremony, Mrs. Guesman told the audience, "We are very happy to be here today and hear these wonderful words while we're still able to hear them.

"We're happy that both of us are able to help future generations of students, especially those where we live."

Following the ceremony, the Guesmans held a brief news conference in which Mr. Guesman was asked the secret to a long life.

"That would be L-O-V-E," he replied.

education - neigh_south - neigh_washington

Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: First Published October 17, 2013 1:41 AM


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