Monmouth College’s $40 million Center for Science and Business will be formally dedicated on May 10 at 3 p.m.
Prior to the ceremony, where WGN Radio personality Orion Samuelson will provide the keynote address, tours of the building will be held from 1 – 2:30 p.m.
Samuelson has served as WGN’s agribusiness director since 1960. For 30 years, he hosted the station’s “U.S. Farm Report.” Inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2003, Samuelson now hosts “This Week in Agribusiness.”
Samuelson is the author of “You Can’t Dream Big Enough,” which traces his story from his humble beginnings on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin to America’s most recognizable voice of agriculture.
“Monmouth College has audacious goals,” said President Mauri Ditzler. “We expect that the Center for Science and Business is going to produce graduates who will change the world. It seems entirely appropriate that our keynote speaker has written a book titled ‘You Can’t Dream Big Enough,’ and that he’s also happened to spend his career at the intersection of science and business.”
The 138,000-square foot Center for Science and Business is the first new academic building on campus in two decades and is now the largest such structure. It signals a shift for the college from focusing on constructing and renovating residence halls and athletic facilities to striving for excellence in academics.
The design of the building was driven by the belief that an education for the 21st century must highlight the integration of knowledge, and that excellent colleges go beyond offering good courses by helping students understand how all their courses fit together.
“We want our business students to leave here with a real knowledge of what’s happening on the cutting edge of science,” Ditzler said. “We want them to be comfortable talking to science students. We want them to form contacts they will use later in life. And the reverse – we want our science students to be comfortable with ideas of business.”
Ditzler has discussed the building in several venues, including the 24th annual College and University Science and Engineering Facilities Planning Conference in San Diego, Calif., in October and a time capsule ceremony in December.
Ditzler addressed one of the conference’s five “big ideas” – the integration of science and engineering disciplines and interdisciplinary space.
“They were interested by our unique mix of science and business,” said Ditzler. “That mix caught a lot of people’s attention.”
Under development for more than seven years, the project began to take shape in 2007 with a major gift from the Edward Arthur Mellinger Educational Foundation, which funded the development of building plans by the award-winning international architectural firm Burt Hill, a specialist in scientific and academic facilities. Ground was broken in the summer of 2011 and construction has continued steadily over the ensuing months.
In December, a time capsule was placed in a wall near the building’s main entrance. Inside the capsule were items from each of the nine majors that will be housed inside the new building – accounting, biology, biochemistry, biopsychology, business, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, physics and psychology – as well as other official college documents.
“When we designed our building, we didn’t want to focus on intersections, such as having biology next to chemistry, and where the two departments touch, that’s biochemistry,” Ditzler told a reporter at the ceremony. “We wanted to get all the students and faculty in the building to mix – not just a few. That’s why we put in the Great Room, which will provide what I like to call ‘serendipitous learning spaces’ – places where students and faculty will casually and accidentally interact.”
The Center for Science and Business was completed in April, according to Roger Hess, MC’s director of construction services. Hess reported that furniture was delivered to the building in mid-March and classroom furniture arrived the following week. Landscaping has now begun, and the college obtained a certificate of occupancy from the City of Monmouth in late March.