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Sykes Chapel Welcomes More Than 600 to Dedication

Published: December 10, 2010

See the chapel live with UT’s webcam and view photos from the dedication ceremony.

Hundreds of guests of The University of Tampa waited in anticipation inside the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values. Professor David Clark Isele, followed by Haig Mardirosian, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, lifted their hands to the keys and in seconds, filled the room with music.

The dedication ceremony and sounding of the 3,184-pipe custom-built Dobson organ on Dec. 10 was attended by dignitaries such as Mayor Pam Iorio.

“We are our values and our faith, and that is what really makes a community,” Iorio said.

John Sykes, chairman emeritus of the UT Board of Trustees, said it was an emotional day for him and his family. Sykes and his wife, Susan, generously provided a multi-million dollar lead gift for the construction of a center where values and character could be developed. Gene McNichols, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and his wife, Patsy, also provided significant support.


“There are nine faiths on this campus, but when you peel back those faiths, you’ll see common values,” said John Sykes, “and those values are what we want to build upon.”

President Ronald L. Vaughn called the chapel a realized dream, part of the University’s master plan since 1996.

“John and Susan have helped to literally transform this University, and their generosity has permanently elevated philanthropy in our community,” said Vaughn.

Stephanie Russell Holz, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Students Leadership and Engagement, recognized the excited anticipation that many people feel for the chapel. She recognized the Resource Team for Faith, Values and Spirituality, which is an interdisciplinary group of faculty, staff and students that created the programming series for spiritual life initiatives. There were also representatives from the Community Partnership, a group of local worship leaders who support UT students, and the thriving UT spiritual student organizations. She said all are thrilled.

“The Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values will encourage students to entertain and reflect on the deep questions of meaning, purpose and authenticity that are inevitable in the process of learning and growing in college,” she said.

Various programs for the spring semester have been scheduled including a keynote address by Eboo Patel, executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, on the importance of religious pluralism and interfaith leadership on March 15 at 7 p.m. Organ concerts have already been scheduled for dates in January, February, March and April. Built by Dobson Pipe Organ Ltd., the organ will be ranked as a premier instrument in the state and region and among the most notable organs in the country.

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Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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