Barry McNamara  |   Published August 05, 2015

Campaign’s centerpiece

Monmouth College’s $42 million Center for Science and Business at heart of ‘Fulfilling the Promise’
Monmouth College recently announced the successful completion of its “Fulfilling the Promise” comprehensive campaign. At the public kickoff of the campaign in 2013, a goal of $75 million was announced, and the campaign officially closed at the end of June at $78.15 million.

At the heart of the campaign was the college’s new $42 million Center for Science and Business. By integrating the studies of science and business, the 138,000-square-foot facility ushers in an era of innovation through collaboration. It is designed around the belief that students who are able to understand the principles of both disciplines will be better prepared for the increasingly demanding challenges of a global economy. The building houses the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science, psychology, political economy and commerce (business, economics and international business) and accounting.

Among the campaign’s goals was to “fulfill the promise” of the vision of the college’s founders, who sought to “elevate the hearts and minds of young people, and empower them to shape a better world.” Four distinct guiding principles were the foundation of the campaign: active learning, civic engagement, complex problem solving and discerning a purpose in life.

Those principles are daily put into practice in the Center for Science and Business throughout the traditional fall and spring semesters, and even beyond, thanks to the Kieft Summer Research fund and Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities (SOFIA), two of the new undergraduate research funds made possible by the campaign.

“The research spaces are incredible,” said Kayla Cherry, a senior chemistry major from Oswego, who has been on campus long enough to remember lab work in the former science building. “Our chemistry department has a separate room where we all have our own desks to keep information about our experiments or items for classes, along with large whiteboards where we can get our thought processes out in the open. It’s a great space to work in, and I am blessed to have the opportunity to learn here.”

Sophomore Annie Axup, a biochemistry major from Rock Island, has conducted summer research in the laboratories through both the Kieft program and SOFIA. “It is such an amazing opportunity to be able to use such fine instruments and equipment for our experiments and then continue learning about topics discussed during the academic year,” she said. “These experiences have also helped me to figure what I want to do after Monmouth. After my enjoyable experiences in the lab, I realized that I wanted to pursue medical research.”

Axup also noted, “The CSB has become a common meeting place for students on campus, not just the science and business students. Many clubs have their meetings there, and the multiple study areas are beneficial when the library gets crowded.”

One way students practice civic engagement is through Monmouth’s successful Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which completed its 16th year in April. A portion of the new academic building was designed specifically to accommodate assisting the public with tax return filing.

Maria Romero, a senior from Chicago, was one of two dozen accounting majors who helped prepare more than 1,000 returns this spring.

“As a student, I’m always trying to learn something new that will benefit many,” said Romero. “Participating in VITA has allowed me to apply what I have learned in class while, at the same time, enhancing my knowledge and experience. It’s also a great way to give back to the community, who are always very appreciative for our help.”

“The Center for Science and Business allows for individualized, confidential meeting spaces for the taxpayers, as well as comfortable waiting areas,” added Emily Flint, a senior from Springfield, who is one of the college’s Midwest Scholars.

Other features of the new academic building include:
  • A rooftop astronomical observatory
  • A nutrition/food chemistry laboratory
  • A nuclear lab equipped with a neutron generator and high-purity germanium detector
  • Parallel, high-performance and networking computer labs
  • A high-speed imaging lab
  • An anatomy and physiology lab for health fitness and cadaver studies
  • A machine shop for specialized physics research projects
  • A glass-blowing area for creating custom scientific glassware
  • Advanced audio-visual “smart” projectors and document cameras
  • A 100-seat demonstration auditorium with cameras to record experiments
  • Three 50-seat lecture halls
  • 50 faculty and staff offices
  • Student lounges and socializing spaces, including a café for informal study
  • A two-story atrium designed to promote student interaction with each other and with faculty.
Brad Sturgeon, associate professor of chemistry, has been one of the leading professors in initiating cross-disciplinary science and business projects. In that regard, the Center for Science and Business has fully met expectations.

“Since moving into the CSB it has been so easy to connect with my business colleagues,” said Sturgeon. “Specifically, I have had many interactions with Terry Gable. It has been a pleasure to be a guest in his entrepreneur class speaking on both the Monmouth Coffee Project and my new brewery business in downtown Monmouth. Additionally, I have had some product conversations with (business professor) Dick Johnston, which most likely would not have occurred in prior years.”

When asked recently about the new machine shop, physics professor Chris Fasano acknowledged the building’s effect on making new things possible.

“We are delighted,” he said. “This tool fits well into our desire to have students be able to make things – for experiments and for prototypes – and become confident in their abilities. Between the mill and the 3-D printer, we should be able to make almost anything when we are up to speed. We’re adding some very high-quality tools.”
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