With shovels in hand, members of the Misericordia University community came together Wednesday to ceremoniously break ground against the backdrop of the existing science hall as they launch construction of the $45 million Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Science Center – the largest academic building on the more than 124-acre campus.
The comprehensive Henry Science Center features a deliberate mix of classroom space, technology, and teaching and research laboratories. Its concept began in 2016 when the Misericordia University Board of Trustees committed to the multi-year project to expand learning and research opportunities for students and faculty. Built in 1957 and renovated in 1988, the existing building was designed to accommodate 800 students on a campus now serving close to 3,000 students.
It moved another step closer to reality when Frank M. Henry provided the lead gift to the "Now for Tomorrow'' campaign, which supports construction of the Henry Science Center and provides significant investment in the Misericordia Fund and endowment for additional scholarship opportunities for worthy students.
"I want to thank the late Mr. Frank Henry for his leadership gift that provided the momentum to our campaign to help us make our vision for a modern science center a reality,'' said Misericordia University Trustee Chris Borton, chairperson of the Board of Trustees. "I want to recognize all of my colleagues on the Board of Trustees whose financial support and leadership to encourage the dream of a new science center have been a notable part of what has brought us to today.
"I applaud the kindness of all of our donors who have been so essential in enabling this project. The Henry Science Center will be the culmination of a significant strategic planning initiative over a long period of time – with the potential for dramatic positive impact on the teaching and research resources of our faculty and students,'' Mr. Borton added.
The groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of construction on the new three-story 57,400-square-foot wing, which will take about 18 months to complete. Renovation of the existing 28,500-square-foot science hall will commence in June 2020, with completion of the entire Henry Science Center ready for the beginning of the fall 2021 semester.
"By their very nature, groundbreakings are forward looking – we plan to build something here, right here, that will greatly enhance the educational capabilities of our campus,'' Misericordia University President Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D., said during the ceremony. "Even the name of the campaign – 'Now for Tomorrow' – illustrates the visionary aspect of what this University is intending to do in the Henry Science Center.
"The design and elements to this building, developed by so many of our faculty, staff and advisors over many long hours, represent an idea wholly consistent with our vision for what Misericordia can be in the future – big ideas combined with perhaps Misericordia's greatest attribute: relationships,'' President Botzman added. "In the decades to come, students will be developing the professional competence and contemporary literacies along a path of research and discovery in the Henry Science Center. They will be mentored by faculty in this space and learn to collaborate, develop interpersonal skills, and be inspired to innovate, create and embrace lifelong learning.
"Finally, I know they will be exposed to the type of environment that builds character and leads to lives of abiding consequence.''
Marjorie Henry Marquart, a 1985 graduate of Misericordia and daughter of the late Frank M. and Dorothea Henry, serves Misericordia University today as a valued trustee. The ceremony was an opportunity to reminisce about the importance of the project and what it means to her and her benevolent family.
"This is a special day for Misericordia University,'' Ms. Marquart said during the ceremony. "More importantly, though, the Henry Science Center is an important symbol of the future and the countless opportunities that lie ahead for our students and faculty thanks to it. This science center is going to be a reality because of so many dedicated people who truly embrace the values and mission of this fine institution.''
The design of the Henry Science Center puts science clearly on display while meeting the demands of the 21st-century model of learner-based and discovery-based teaching, which requires a mix of modern laboratories, technologies and learning spaces. A two-story glass curtain-wall on the north façade of the new wing will permit views from the center of campus into the new teaching labs. Generous amounts of glass in the Henry Science Center Commons will provide abundant daylight and views from the second floor entryway through to the science courtyard.
"We've gotten to this point because of judicious project planning inspired by our faculty and students, those ambitious young men and women currently with us and those yet to arrive,'' said Trustee Mary Erwine, a 1990 and 1992 graduate of Misericordia, and co-chair of the 'Now for Tomorrow' campaign. "We have arrived here because of an administration that understood the absolute necessity of this building project, and an advancement team that has worked diligently and with a sense of urgency.
"Combine judiciousness with commitment and diligence and the result is a campaign that has surpassed anything done before and a building that will become a beacon for transformative teaching, learning and research,'' Mrs. Erwine added, while standing next to campaign co-chairperson, Sandy Insalaco, Sr.
"I am excited for the new building and what it will mean. The Henry Science Center will not only benefit the science majors who will call it home, but also the greater University community as well,'' said Mr. Insalaco, a Misericordia University trustee emeritus. "We are forever grateful to have exceptional benefactors like Frank Henry who understand that giving above and beyond permits and encourages greatness to occur.
"His unparalleled giving creates pathways to hope upon which our talented students can work toward making this world a better and more humane place,'' he added.
The use of brick, similar in color to existing campus buildings, provides an overall building composition that blends existing with new, and complements the campus fabric. The science courtyard on the south side includes an outdoor classroom, greenhouse and an outdoor rain garden for managing storm water runoff and related research.
Rich in technology, the Henry Science Center's design will provide a number of dedicated laboratories and workspaces for specific areas of inquiry, including a small mammal vivarium, aquatic/invertebrate vivarium, electronics/computer build lab and 10 new teaching labs in biology, chemistry and physics. An organic chemistry lab will be adjacent to the learning center dedicated to the 300mHz nuclear magnetic resonance instrument, better known as an NMR. A new cold room will enable advanced molecular experiments, while a cadaver suite, complete with an integrated control room, Anatomage room, and laboratory and preparatory space, will expand learning opportunities for students in the health and medical sciences.
"Our science faculty provide an excellent education for our students. This new building will better reflect the quality of teaching that occurs in our science programs and allow it to expand and grow to meet the growing needs of area businesses and the nation as a whole for more STEM graduates,'' Misericordia University College of Arts and Sciences Dean Heidi Manning, Ph.D., said. "This is not just about more space – it is how this space has been designed that is the real strength of the Henry Science Center. This building has been designed to foster collaborations: faculty-student, student-student and faculty-faculty.
"Misericordia University is a collaborative and supportive community, and the design of the science center will build upon that and enhance it as we educate the next generation,'' Dr. Manning added at the luncheon in the Catherine Evans McGowan Room of the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library.
The successful design follows months of research by faculty, administration and others into the proper needs of a modern science facility. "The faculty, with the encouragement of the administration, embarked on a journey to learn what works and what does not work in building such a complex,'' Anthony Serino, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and project shepherd, said at the groundbreaking ceremony. "We went on fact-finding trips to recently built science projects around the state. We sought the opinions of our alumni, students, faculty and staff, so that we could list a set of priorities. These became the guide to which this project was implemented by the architects.''
The Henry Science Center Commons, though, will be the heart of the academic facility, providing a generous two-story space that forms the connection between the two wings of the modern structure. It will be a unique place on campus, providing social space for the entire campus community in addition to collaborative space for the Henry Science Center.
The science center's design also incorporates sustainable best practices in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, more commonly known as LEED. It is eligible for the silver level LEED certification, as it features daylighting into laboratories to save on artificial lighting, LED lighting, and efficient boilers and mechanical systems.
In addition, the University will realign Misericordia Way to pull the Henry Science Center into the heart of campus by redirecting the roadway behind the science center and creating green space in front of the existing wing and Mercy Hall. The new wing of the Henry Science Center will form the façade that completes the quadrangle formed by Alumnae Hall, Henry Student Lounge, McGowan Hall, Banks Student Life Center and Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall.
"The building site allows for the science center to become an integral part of campus,'' added Dr. Serino. "The design will give us a state-of-the-art science facility that will allow us to grow both our science and health sciences programs over the coming decades.''
At Misericordia University, 54-percent of all students are majoring in the health or medical sciences fields during the 2018-19 academic year.
"Thank you to all of the faculty and staff who have contributed to the planning that brings us to this amazing day,'' the president concluded. "Thank you to caring, motivated students who seize the opportunities Misericordia University affords to make their lives better, extend the reputation of our fine university, and live the charisms of the Sisters of Mercy which serve as our institution's core values – Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality.''