With a row of gleaming shovels waiting along the sidelines, Franklin College President Thomas J. Minar, Ph.D., welcomed more than 215 guests to the official groundbreaking of the Franklin College Science Center on Thursday, May 18. Franklin College faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and friends gathered under a tent along Monroe Street just behind Barnes Hall, the current science facility, to witness the historic event.
Following the welcome by the president, Rev. Leah Parsell Rumsey, campus minister, provided the invocation. Next, Board of Trustees Chair and alumna Christine S. Fields recognized fellow board members and the Science Center Steering Committee members for the strategic role they each played in guiding the college toward this significant event. Afterward, Professor of Biology Steve K. Browder, division head of natural sciences, addressed the group. He, along with fellow faculty members, played a key role in reinventing the curriculum in 2011, aligning it more closely with the growing demands of the Indiana’s $63 billion life sciences economy.
“I truly believe this facility will be a game changer for Franklin College,” said Browder. “It represents our commitment to preparing our graduates for life and careers in an ever increasing scientific world and embodies the principles of the college’s recently adopted strategic plan. This facility will make it possible to fully implement our new curricular vision of students learning science by doing science.”
“Science drives innovation. And innovation changes the world,” said Minar, as he returned to the podium. He continued on to share the vision of Franklin College’s second president, Dr. Silas Bailey, who led the effort to add new courses in science to the college curriculum in 1852. That decision began a long, dedicated relationship between the college and the ever-changing discipline of science, a relationship that has continued to evolve over time to meet the changing demands of society. “The decades of progress and innovation that transpired from Bailey’s dream bring us here today. Franklin College has throughout its history relentlessly pursued groundbreaking science opportunities.”
Franklin College’s current science facility, Barnes Hall, was built in 1927 and renovated in 1987. It is currently a 30,000 square foot facility, housing 10 teaching labs and one research lab. The new facility, once construction and renovation is complete, will be 51,000 square feet in size, with 12 teaching labs and three research labs. Total lab space will nearly be doubled. The updated features also will include flexible classroom and lab spaces, dedicated space for student research projects, collaborative learning spaces, improved technology and numerous sustainability features. The construction and renovation of the science center is being designed by BSA LifeStructures and is anticipated to cost $17 million. The college has engaged The Hagerman Group as construction manager for the project.
The college has raised $8.8 million to date toward the goal of $10 million for the project and fundraising efforts continue. At its last meeting in February, the Franklin College Board of Trustees approved issuing a $17 million tax-exempt bond to finance a portion of the construction and renovation and refinance the college’s existing long-term debt.
At the conclusion of the groundbreaking ceremony, guests were invited inside Barnes Hall to review renderings and schematics of the Franklin College Science Center, enjoy refreshments and engage with representatives of the architectural and construction firms and members of the Franklin College science faculty.
Construction of the Franklin College Science Center will begin in late May and is slated for completion by fall 2018.
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(Posted May 18, 2017)