A Groundbreaking Leap for Science
by Sherri Kimmel
June 30, 2006
A new era in science education, which began 15 years ago with the revitalization of the curriculum, made a quantum leap on May 5. The most ambitious building project in Dickinson history gained major momentum with the groundbreaking for the keystone phase of a new science complex.
On the corner of North College and West Louther streets, students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the board of trustees gathered for a ceremony that reinforced, as President William G. Durden '71 said, “the centrality of the sciences” at Dickinson.
The foundation for the complex was laid in 1999 with the completion of the Tome Scientific Building , housing mathematics, computer science, astronomy and physics. The new complex, completion of which is anticipated in 2008, will showcase new fields in science, new teaching methods and new discoveries.
The complex will house interdisciplinary programs, such as biochemistry and molecular biology, neuroscience, bioinformatics and nanoscience, as well as faculty from biology, chemistry and psychology. As part of the project, Althouse Hall will be renovated to contain the natural sciences. The James Center, which housed psychology, geology and environmental studies, will be razed to make room for the new complex.
Benjamin James '34, the former dean of admissions, dean of students, and chair of the psychology department, stood to be recognized at the ceremony. A wing of the new complex will be called James Hall.
Durden effusively thanked the science faculty for “their patience, perseverance, flexibility, trust and contribution of knowledge and expertise to the building project.” He also recognized Sylvia Smith '73, Byron Koste '64 and other members of the board of trustees committee on facilities, and the architects of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca.
Dusty Rhoads, project architect, in his remarks, commented upon the college building committee, comprised of faculty, students, staff and trustees, lauding the members' “sense of humor and their self-confidence to invite creativity in the development of the science complex.”
Jennifer Ward Reynolds '77, a trustee and co-chair of the capital campaign that will begin this fall, said the day “was not just about a building but a new era.” She noted that, unlike in the past, the commitment had been made to raise, through participant support, an estimated $32.5 million. She said that 75 percent of the funds were in hand and that the remaining funds would be raised before the 2008 move-in date for the building.
Helping to achieve that goal were two families, members of which were present at the ceremony. The $1 million gift of John '59 and Inge Paul Stafford '58 will fund construction of an auditorium named for them. The Staffords have long supported the sciences at Dickinson, previously giving $2.5 million to renovate the bioinformatics laboratory, to provide scholarships to science students, to establish a bioinformatics endowment fund and an endowed chair in bioinformatics. John Stafford is the former chairman and CEO of Wyeth; Inge Stafford is a retired psychologist and a Dickinson trustee.
A $5 million gift from the Stuart-Amick family, represented in the groundbreaking by William Stuart Amick '93 and his mother, Wynne Stuart Amick '62, will fund the lead hall—or entrance—of the building. The entryway of the new building, named for the Stuarts, “will honor their legacy and serve as an important reminder for future students” of what can be achieved with a Dickinson degree, said Durden.
Like the Staffords, the Stuart-Amicks are long-time supporters of the college. Wynne Amick's parents, J. William '32 and Helen Stover Stuart '32, established an endowed scholarship fund in 1983. “Bill” Stuart grew up on a farm in nearby Mt. Holly , earned his Dickinson diploma and, eventually, rose to a top executive position with Pfizer pharmaceuticals. His children, Robert and Wynne, have made additional significant contributions, including, in 2001, $1 million for an endowed chair named for their parents. The family's giving now exceeds $6.5 million for the capital campaign, of which the science building project is a part.
In concluding remarks, Durden also highlighted a $10 million gift received in 2005 from the estate of Dr. Robert '45 and Dorothy Hitchon Rector. The largest outright gift in college history, which will exceed the initial figure, has been earmarked for the science campus that will bear the Rector name. Following the completion of the keystone phase in 2008, a third building will be constructed—the capstone phase—completing the science campus. Together, the two new buildings will total 150,000 square feet, with an estimated total cost of $50 million.