Joliet, Ill. – Educational institutions are regularly seeking ways to partner with local businesses and organizations as a way to enhance course offerings for students. For the University of St. Francis (USF) Art & Design Department, a new relationship with Gary Galassi Stone & Steel in Romeoville is creating new and exciting opportunities for students taking courses with instructor Paul Erschen, MFA.

Erschen takes regular notice of the company’s facility during his daily commute to and from USF and decided, one day, to stop in and introduce himself.

“I pass the company on my daily commute to and from Chicago. I did some research into the company and decided to stop by last month and introduce myself,” Erschen said.

He is certainly happy he decided to do so.

“General Manager Chris Galassi couldn’t have been friendlier. He gave me a tour of their facility and even invited our students for a post-pandemic site visit,” Erschen added.

During Erschen’s visit, Galassi Stone & Steel also gifted several beautiful limestone pieces to Erschen. Those pieces will be used as part of an upcoming project in the three-dimensional design course Erschen teaches at USF.

“Limestone is a traditional sculptural and architectural material, so we will use the stones as part of a ‘Reductive Sculpture’ project. Students will learn how to accurately translate two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional, hand-carved forms. Students will use traditional stone carving tools throughout the process,” Erschen said.

Erschen also plans to share the students’ completed works with Galassi once they are completed.

“On a practical level, high quality stone is very expensive and difficult to source. In terms of an institutional relationship, this is a great way for our students to see a direct connection between art/architecture and business, and hopefully gain a critical experiential learning component. Finally, most people, let alone students, are unaware that the highly skilled art of stone carving is practiced right here in the southwest suburbs,” Erschen said.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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