Monmouth College president Mauri Ditzler talks with junior business major Cody Whiteside and senior biopsychology major Kayla Corzine moments before placing a time capsule into a wall near the south entrance of the college’s new Center for Science and Business. Construction of the facility is in its final stages, with completion of the nearly two-year project scheduled within two to three months.
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A time capsule placed inside one of the concrete walls near the south entrance to the Center for Science and Business on Dec. 18 served notice that construction of Monmouth College’s new $40 million academic facility is almost complete.
The 138,000-square-foot building will become the largest on Monmouth’s campus. It is expected to be completed in February or March and be ready for classes by the fall of 2013.
Two TV news crews were on hand to record the historic event, which featured President Mauri Ditzler placing the sturdy metal box into an opening in the wall. Two students representing the disparate disciplines – senior biopsychology major Kayla Corzine of Danville and junior business major Cody Whiteside of Monmouth – looked on.
Inside the time 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.
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 told one of the reporters. “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.”
The Center for Science and Business is Monmouth’s first new academic building in two decades. It signals a shift for the college from focusing on constructing and renovating residence halls and athletic facilities to striving for excellence in academics.
While leading a tour of media, students and staff, Ditzler pointed out a spot in the building’s Great Room from which a majority of the faculty offices in the building could be seen. He noted that the building was designed to foster interaction among faculty from all nine disciplines, calling gathering places such as the Great Room and open areas along hallways “serendipitous learning spaces,” as they will provide places for students and faculty to casually and accidentally interact.
The building’s instructional laboratories are set up to allow both experimentation and lecture/discussion, which Ditzler said “fosters a discovery learning atmosphere. … Many of the laboratories are designed for undergraduate students to carry out cutting-edge research.”
The president noted that breakout rooms around the lecture halls allow professors to split their classes of 30 to 40 students into discussion groups of six to eight students. Also, he said, “By creating flexible lab spaces, we are able to have different courses share the same lab. This makes for a more efficient – and thus greener – building.”
In his closing remarks, Ditzler told the group that he is ready for the construction fence that has surrounded the site since the summer of 2011 to come down.
Roger Hess, MC’s director of construction services, accompanied the building tour and confirmed that the fence should be removed “in the next week or two.” Hess also reported that about 90 workers are present on the site each day, down from a high of approximately 120 workers earlier this year. Two mild winters in a row and an unseasonably warm spring kept the project moving comfortably on schedule.