Groundbreaking starts new Science Center

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Groundbreaking kicks off new multi-million dollar Science Center at Lewis University

Published: October 13, 2010.

Lewis University held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 13 for a new state-of-the-art Science Center on its Romeoville campus. The $16.1 million addition to the current Science Building is expected to be completed by January 2012. It includes a 52,000 square-foot new construction and a 28,000 square-foot renovation of the Academic Building.

Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President of Lewis University, said, “Construction of this impressive new facility demonstrates our determination to provide our students with excellent academic facilities. The Science Center is very well-designed and will greatly enhance education in the physical and life sciences and related areas.”

“This new Science Center will assist us in addressing the national need for trained science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates,” added Dr. Stephany Schlachter, Lewis University Provost. The Science Center and expansion project will feature 12 labs, 6 prep labs, 8 research facilities, 3 conference rooms, classrooms, faculty and staff offices, and gathering spaces that foster collaborative learning and enhanced opportunities for faculty-student interaction.

“In the past five years, Lewis University has experienced a 47 percent increase in enrollment in fifteen undergraduate science programs,” stated Dr. Bonnie Bondavalli, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Lewis University is uniquely centered in a science triangle bordered by Fermilab to the northwest, Argonne National Laboratory to the east, and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie to the south. Access to these highly visible science research centers and resources offer an exceptional opportunity for the Lewis science programs, faculty and students,” Dr. Bondavalli continued.

According to Robert DeRose, Vice President of Business and Facilities at Lewis: “This is the largest capital project undertaken by the University in recent years, and we’re excited about what it will mean for our students as well as the community.” The facility also will provide a boost to the local economy. More than 100 bids were reviewed representing 60 different trades and 80 percent of the trade contractors will be from Will and DuPage counties. Wight and Co. will manage the construction of the project which is targeting LEED certification.

The Science Center project is part of an overall $30 million campaign Touching Hearts and Minds: The Campaign for Lewis University, that centers on providing increased scholarship funding and expanding facilities to enhance learning. To date, nearly $28 million has been pledged and gifted with the goal to conclude the campaign during the summer of 2011.

Illinois State Senator A.J. Wilhelmi addressed the crowd during the groundbreaking ceremony. He said, “Through the Capital Jobs Bill, the State of Illinois was able to partner with Lewis to ensure that this community project moves forward. Because of this project, a number of good paying, quality construction jobs will be created for men and women here in Will County.”

He continued, “Because Lewis very effectively educates a diverse population this project will be especially beneficial to women and minority students. Because of this project, more women and minorities will be encouraged to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Groundbreaking participants included Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President of Lewis University, James Goodwin, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Illinois State Senator A.J. Wilhelmi (D-Joliet), Dr. Bonnie Bondavalli, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, Ramica Ford, Science student, Thomas Lynch, Science student, Dr. James Rago, Assistant Professor of Biology, Brother Pierre St. Raymond, FSC, Chair of Chemistry Department, Dr. Ray Klump, Chair of Math and Computer Science Department, Dr. Leonard Weisenthal, Chair of Physics Department, Dr. Ed Kearney, Chair of Psychology Department, Illinois State Senator Edward Maloney (D-Chicago), James Harvey, Board of Trustees Member, Joel Stava, Board of Trustees Member, Mayor John Noak of Romeoville, and Pat Cermak, President and COO of Wight & Co.

Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,000 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares ethically grounded, globally aware, and socially responsible graduates. The ninth largest not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.

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Lukasz Mikosz said:
Way to go Lewis!! This is much needed addition to science building, and the beautiful campus. -Lukasz Class of 2000

John Ephraim said:
This will be a great asset to your school. My son is a Bio-chemist 2nd yr. He was worried about going to another school to get his masters. He really loves your school and wants to finish his education there. Thanks to all who played a big part in this.

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