Lafayette took a bold step into the future yesterday, breaking ground for the $75 million Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, the largest capital project in the College’s history.
“After more than 150 years as a trailblazer in scientific education, Lafayette’s beginning construction on what our architects tell us will be one of the most modern and most sustainable science buildings in the country,” said Lafayette President Alison Byerly at the groundbreaking ceremony on Anderson Courtyard. “A state-of-the-art academic facility that will catalyze learning and discovery at the intersection of the sciences.”
“It will be one of the most cutting-edge science centers in the nation,” said Ed Ahart, chair of Lafayette’s Board of Trustees. “It will provide unique and innovative opportunities for our students in a truly interdisciplinary environment.”
Scheduled to open for classes in fall 2019, the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center will be the home of the biology, computer science, and environmental science and studies programs, as well as provide additional space for neuroscience. It will be physically connected to the adjacent Acopian Engineering Center.
The building is named after Kent Rockwell ’66, a Lafayette trustee, whose gifts to the College include more than $35 million as part of the ongoing $400 million Live Connected, Lead Change campaign. Its name honors his generosity to Lafayette, said Byerly, as well as a career in which he “has demonstrated visionary leadership in advancing companies that leverage technology for the betterment of mankind.”
“The most important thing I think that we can do is to try and spawn more innovation and more creative thinking within the students,” said Rockwell. “…Our college and our country need to pursue more diversified educational programs for our future if we’re going to maintain global leadership in technology development.”
Byerly announced that Heidi Ludwick Hanson ’91 and her husband, Daniel Hanson, have made a $5 million commitment to create the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education in order to address the national need to recruit more women and underrepresented minorities to the sciences. The Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center will serve as headquarters for the Hanson Center as well as the IDEAL Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Office of Campus Sustainability.
“We can’t educate just a small segment of our population,” said Provost Abu Rizvi. “The STEM disciplines especially cannot be the province of a just a few. Men, women, people of all backgrounds should be able to succeed in and advance the sciences.”
Wayne Leibel, Kreider Professor Emeritus of Biology, and Taylor Corsi ’18, a double major in neuroscience and women’s & gender studies, joined Byerly in pressing down a plunger on stage timed with an underground blast to initiate the groundbreaking. But instead of a loud noise, those seated were surprised by streams of biodegradable confetti propelled onto them.
Guest recognized at the groundbreaking included Easton Mayor Sal Panton, representatives of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and Congressman Matt Cartwright, Greater Easton Development Partnership Executive Director Jared Mast ’04, and members of College Hill Neighborhood Association and the Village on College Hill.
The days’ events began with an alumni panel discussion featuring six alumni whose careers highlight the power of collaborations at the intersections of the sciences:
This was followed by a panel discussion with students involved in interdisciplinary research projects:
A reception followed the groundbreaking ceremony. Donald Morel ’79, Lafayette trustee and retired chairman and CEO of West Pharmaceutical Services, gave the keynote speech at a dinner in Marquis Hall after the reception.