Lewis University opened its new Science Center to the public with a Dedication Ceremony on Friday, March 23 and an Open House on Saturday, March 24 on the University’s main campus in Romeoville. Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President of Lewis University, led university representatives in dedicating the building, which opened for classes in January 2012.
“This impressive new Science Center, with its exceptional faculty, rigorous and research-driven curriculum, and students with unlimited potential will provide for the preparation of truly excellent scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers, physicians, nurses, other health professionals, and scientific researchers,” Brother James said during the ceremony.
A crowd of 150 people, including dignitaries, Lewis faculty and staff, and community members, were welcomed to the ceremony by Len Bertolini, Vice President for University Advancement. Among those attending were Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL); Steve Gulden, Village of Romeoville City Manager; and Pat Cermak, President and CEO of Wight & Company. An Open House, scheduled for the public on Saturday, also drew numerous interested students, parents, teachers and community residents.
“The new Science Center is really what we consider a game changer. It changes who we are and what we are going to do in the future regarding this part of education,” said James LaGrippe, Vice Chair of the Lewis University Board of Trustees and Lewis alumnus. “It is our expectation that the Science Center will provide Lewis students with the resources that will give them an outstanding science education and put them in a position to be successful in pursuing their career goals. The success of our students will always be our first and main priority,” he concluded.
According to Dr. Stephany Schlachter, Provost, “In addition to student learning, the Science Center is also a place where faculty, often in partnership with students, are making major advances in science research. Increasingly this research is being conducted in partnership with local and even international corporations, laboratories and federal agencies. This new Science Center will have a significant impact on the surrounding community and the region as we enter into many future partnerships. Through this center, Lewis is also making a commitment to address the national needs in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) areas so important to the advancement and security of our country.”
Dr. Marne Bailey, Assistant Professor of Biology and Lewis alumna, focused on how enhanced facilities and dedicated faculty members inspire students to reach their goals and dreams. As a faculty member, she shared her gratitude for the center designed to optimize learning. “This center has far exceeded the faculty’s expectations,” she said.
Lewis University students Jordan Kaiser, Elizabeth De Waard and Ramica Ford shared how their learning experience has been enhanced by the new center, referring to the convenience of the layout, the new equipment and experienced faculty that assist them on a path to success.
Brother Philip Johnson, FSC, Director of University Ministry, presented a blessing of the building. Lewis University Student Ambassadors Natalie Asp, Stephanie Daley, Emily Grimm, Tony Lyen, Ron Jovi Ramirez, Erika Young and Janet Zack led guided tours of the facility.
The 50,000 square-foot addition of the new Science Center features 12 labs, six prep labs, eight research facilities, three conference rooms, classrooms with Smart Boards, faculty/staff offices and gathering spaces with terrazzo floors. The top level of the three-story $18 million structure features biology labs, the second floor focuses on chemistry areas, and the lower level is dedicated to physics. Students and faculty have access to additional new equipment, such as a fluorescent microscope and a 96-well plate reader, but also better storage areas for the equipment. Every research lab and preparatory room has a refrigerator and fume hood.
Although the facility will be used extensively by science students, the Science Center serves every student of the university as part of the liberal arts curriculum. Students taking science courses as a requirement of general education and students in science-related fields, such as nursing and aviation, will be utilizing the center. Lewis University has the largest undergraduate nursing enrollment in Illinois and is the only school in Illinois to be selected by the FAA to offer an Air Traffic Control program.
In the last five years, Lewis University has experienced nearly 50 percent increase in enrollment in undergraduate science programs. Programs include: Biochemistry, Biology, Chemical Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Environmental Science, Forensic Chemistry, Natural Science, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Nursing, Physics, Podiatric Medicine, Radiation Therapy, Radiography and Vascular Ultrasound Technology. Pre-professional programs include: Pre-Chiropractic, Pre-Dentistry, Pre-Engineering, Pre-Law, Pre-Medicine, Pre-Optometry, Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Physician Assistant and Pre-Veterinary Medicine.
The new Science Center also provides enhanced facilities and an atmosphere for many research projects funded by the Colonel Stephen S. and Lyla Doherty Center for Aviation and Health Research Center at Lewis University. The center promotes scholarship among faculty, students and community partners in aviation and health. Projects are in various areas, such as nanotechnology, laser optics, computer and environmental science research.
Wight and Company managed the construction of the building project, which began in October 2010. The new Science Center is still in the process of being designated a LEED-certified building at the Silver level. More than 31 environmentally-friendly features of the structure include its innovative design, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, energy and atmosphere, water efficiency and sustainable site.
The project was part of an overall $30 million campaign “Touching Hearts and Minds: The Campaign for Lewis University,” which centered on providing increased scholarship funding and expanding facilities to enhance learning. When the campaign concluded in Fall 2011, it was the largest campaign in the university’s history and exceeded its goal amount by more than $1 million.
Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 6,500 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 intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally aware, and socially responsible graduates. The ninth largest private 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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