SIUE welcomed Gov. Pat Quinn to campus Tuesday for his presentation of $23 million to remodel the existing Science Building.
This marks the beginning of the second phase in SIUE’s science renovation. The first phase included the $52 million construction of Science Building West. With the new building finished, SIUE can focus its efforts on the existing building, which was built in 1966.
Quinn’s spokesperson David Blanchette said the money for both phases had come from the 2009 Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction bill passed by the Illinois legislature at the governor’s urging.
According to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Administration Rich Walker, the renovation will begin this spring and will last about 18 months.
In his remarks at the North Patio of the Science Building, the governor said SIUE must continue to improve itself.
“SIU Edwardsville has always been a leader, since Buckminster Fuller, in making sure we take good care of our environment, of our ecology, of making sure we leave the Earth better than we found it,” Quinn said. “I would have to say this is one of the most beautiful campuses, not just in Illinois, but in America, and we are so blessed that we have it, but we are going to have to continue to invest in it.”
Illinois State Representative Jay Hoffman, also present Tuesday, said SIUE continues to play an important role in the region though it is no longer part of his district.
Physics professor Jack Glassman said the renovation is much needed. Classrooms and offices are cramped; office walls are thin, making private student-professor discussions difficult.
“It’s barely livable as [the building] currently is,” Glassman said.
Elementary education major Merrie DeHart, of Chesterfield, Mo., said her math education courses in the science building are unpleasant.
“There are usually about 40 of us in there, and it’s very small. The whole walls are chalkboard, so it’s very dusty, and it’s very hot,” DeHart said.
Glassman said the chemistry and biology departments have already moved to Science Building West, and the physics department will move to Alumni Hall during the building’s renovation.
Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe said in her remarks the renovation of the science building has been on SIUE’s capital plan for many years, but without funding, administration has been forced to make “stopgap” measures to keep the building usable.
College Democrats President and senior political science major Milton Patch, of Pontoon Beach, said the renovation will help attract new students and improve the variety of undergraduate degrees in science.
“Right now, so far we don’t have a whole lot of undergraduate degrees that reflect a lot of our graduate degrees,” Patch said.
Jim Underwood, the executive director of the Capital Development Board, which is building across Illinois, told the crowd at the north patio that the renovation will create critical state-of-the-art teaching and research labs, faculty offices and general classrooms.
“It will allow SIUE to meet the educational needs of the 21st century,” Underwood said. “In addition, this project will be designed to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification in terms of energy efficiency, saving energy costs for many years to come.”
Quinn said the renovation is especially important for education.
“I think it’s very important we educate our young people in particular for the jobs of the 21st century,” Quinn said. “That’s what this science building is all about, to make sure that we have folks understand how to put things together and work together as a team.”