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Gov. Herbert, UVU Celebrate New Chapter In Institution’s History At Science Building’s Grand Opening

23 April 2012 No Comment

April 20, 2012
For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Matt Reichman (801) 863-6808

Gov. Gary Herbert joined Utah Valley University President Matthew S. Holland and campus and community guests on Friday to celebrate the grand opening of UVU’s new Science Building, a 160,000-square-foot architectural marvel nearly two years in the making.

“This is a new chapter in the history and exciting arc of this institution that consistently surprises people and exceeds expectations about who we are and where we are headed,” President Holland told the capacity crowd inside the building’s 400-seat auditorium.

Sam Rushforth, dean of the College of Science & Health, and scores of state and community dignitaries were on hand to celebrate the achievement with a two-day slate of festivities, which included an aptly scientific approach to the ribbon-cutting itself: the College’s assistant dean Danny Horns applied liquid nitrogen to the center of a rubber, green ribbon, which Herbert and Holland then shattered with hammers.

“We will run nearly 20,000 students a semester through this building,” Rushforth said, noting that since he arrived at UVU a little more than 10 years ago, his college’s faculty has grown from 54 members to 115, and its lone baccalaureate degree, biology, is now accompanied by 19 others. The new building provides an additional 160,000 square feet of science space and sits adjacent to the Pope Science Building, built in 1987 with the help of its namesake donors Bill and Margaret Pope.

The glass-and-steel building, which features the very latest in science teaching technology, is a critical acquisition for a student body that had outgrown its existing facilities due to record enrollment growth in recent years. UVU has the fewest square feet per student building space of any institution in the Utah System of Higher Education. This need has been underscored through enthusiastic support of key members of the UVU administration, private donors and the campus community. The new structure was funded by the governor and the Utah Legislature in 2010.

Herbert admired the progress of what has evolved from the vocational school at which he once studied drafting, and he emphasized the need for continued growth in education, especially in the sciences.

“We have significant needs in this state to have educational attainment and achievement that go beyond what we’ve done in the past. The status quo is not acceptable. We need to raise the bar,” Herbert said, citing the state’s “66 by 2020” goal, which calls for 66 percent of Utah adults to hold a college degree or postsecondary certificate by the year 2020. And beyond the need for education on a general scale, the marketplace is currently desperate for more science graduates, he said.

One such graduate, Kristopher Lange, received special recognition from Holland. Lange, a UVU graduate and former College of Science & Health senator for the UVU Student Association, helped galvanize support among many students that would never see the fruits of their labors until after they’d left the University.

“They fought as hard as they could, and may never even take a class here (in this facility),” Holland said, noting the students’ haircut fundraiser, shoe drive, petitions (about 3,000 signatures) and phone calls to representatives that all helped make the building possible.

Lange, for his part, said he was simply thinking of the thousands of students like him who would someday study in this building and go on to benefit Utah and its economy.

“That’s why I dedicated my college life to [this building],” Lange said.

Herbert later echoed the sentiment: “We build today for those who come tomorrow.”

Ground was broken in August 2010 for the building, designed by GSBS Architects and built by Big-D Construction. The facility provides students, faculty and staff with much-needed breathing room that includes 27 laboratory classrooms, 18 lecture rooms, 12 research laboratories, a rooftop greenhouse and a 400-seat auditorium, the largest on campus. There are also 57 offices for faculty and staff, small seminar rooms to facilitate group discussions and spaces for cross-disciplinary collaborations.

The debut of the building marks a new era in science and health education for UVU, whose internationally-respected faculty and staff include Steve Wasserbaech, a physicist with an appointment at the famous CERN lab in Geneva, Switzerland, and Ruhul Kuddus, a biologist who has a Fulbright Scholar grant at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.

The College offers associate, baccalaureate and master degrees in a wide range of programs, including biology, chemistry, dental hygiene, earth science, exercise and outdoor recreation, mathematics, nursing, physics and public and community health.

Donors Marc and Debbie Bingham gave the project a significant boost by offering to match up to $1 million toward donations made by other supporters to the College of Science & Health. Their $1 million gift resulted in hundreds of additional private donations. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, busts of the Binghams, sculpted by Daniel Fairbanks, associate dean of the College of Science & Health, were unveiled to recognize the couple for their contribution. Debbie Bingham is chair of the UVU Foundation and also sits on the UVU Board of Trustees.

The occasion was also marked by several scholarly lectures on campus, including that of the renowned Valerie Hu, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at The George Washington University Medical Center, who visited campus as part of the Presidential Lecture Series and the UVU Conference on Autism. Also presenting were Fairbanks and Erin D. Bigler, a renowned brain researcher with expertise in autism and a professor of psychology and neuroscience at BYU.

Apart from the ribbon-cutting, guests to the grand opening enjoyed free refreshments provided by Sub Zero Ice Cream, student exhibits, science demonstrations by UVU science clubs and a UVU jazz combo performance.

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About UVU

Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to more than 33,000 students. UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since has evolved into a technical school, community college, state college and, finally, a comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utah’s largest institutions of higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education.

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