University Dedicates New Science Building

photo from dedication

Since Eastern Kentucky University’s New Science Building opened in January of this year:

·         Student achievement is up.

·         Absenteeism is down.

·         Faculty collaboration and scholarship are up.

·         Instructor evaluations have improved.

So when a large crowd gathered in the building’s atrium Saturday morning, Oct. 27, it was as much for a celebration as the stated purpose of a dedication.

EKU President Doug Whitlock said those early returns are the result of form meeting function. “And when that happens, like it is in this building, it’s quite gratifying.”

 The $64 million, 175,000-square-foot facility, on Kit Carson Drive adjacent to the University’s health sciences complex, houses the Departments of Chemistry and Physics and Astronomy as well as science education classrooms and laboratories. Phase 2, not yet funded but the top construction priority of the University, will add the Departments of Biological Sciences and Geography and Geology.

Other speakers at the hour-long event were Sixth District Congressman Ben Chandler; student Dorinda Rigsby; Dr. Gary Booth, an EKU alum who is the retired vice president of research of Procter & Gamble; and Dr. Malcolm Frisbie, faculty regent and the faculty “shepherd” during the design and construction process. Also present was the 10th president of EKU, Joanne Glasser, during whose term funding for the facility was approved by the General Assembly.

Chandler praised the work of former state legislators Harry Moberly and Ed Worley to secure funding. “(Their) contributions to EKU have been incalculable,” he said.

The Congressman, who was instrumental in securing approximately $1.2 million in funding for equipment for the New Science Building, said the country’s low rankings in math and science “absolutely have to change. It starts with our public K-12 schools and ends with our universities. We’re talking about improving our lives … and making our country competitive in a global economy. I’m proud of EKU for stepping up to the plate.”

 Rigsby, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major and a Booth Scholar, said she has been “really impressed” by the classrooms, labs and “state-of-the-art” technology, as well as by the University’s sciences faculty, who she said “take great pride in the subject they’re teaching. This building is a shining example of how much Eastern does care. I’m very proud to be a student of this university.”

Booth, who endowed the scholarship fund that bears his name, said he has visited university science facilities worldwide, “and this is really world-class.

“It’s very important,” he said, “for students to have hands-on experiences, and (this facility) is designed to shorten the interface between the classroom and hands-on work.”

Frisbie, also a professor of biological sciences, said: “Universities are filled with creative, energetic and innovative people (and) are at their best when they harness that creativity, innovation and energy. No project epitomizes what can be done by a University community more than this building does.”

He saluted Glasser for her vision almost a decade ago, Moberly and Worley for their persistent efforts in the General Assembly, and Whitlock for his strong support “to enable this to go forward.”

Ironically, the building in its current form would not have been possible without the support of two academic departments that aren’t even located within its walls. Frisbie saluted the administrators of the Departments of Biological Sciences and Geography and Geology for their willingness to remain in their current home until Phase 2 can be constructed.

“Our work is not done,” Frisbie said. “Let’s get funding in this next legislative session, and let’s make it our goal that we meet back here in April 2017 for another dedication ceremony when we open Phase 2.”

 A plaque honoring Frisbie’s work as “advocate, ambassador, translator, diplomat and referee” was unveiled during the ceremony.

“His efforts made every aspect of this building better,” Whitlock said.

Published on October 27, 2012