College Science Center Joyfully Dedicated
Anne C. Paine, Director of Campaign Communications
Friday, October 4 was ominously gray in Oberlin, and
skies darkened throughout the afternoon. But neither leaden skies
nor heavy rain could dampen the spirits of Obies gathered to celebrate
the dedication of the new Science Center.
"We are thrilled to be dedicating a science
center that is truly second to none!" declared Vice President
of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Clayton Koppes, welcoming the 300-plus alumni, donors, students,
trustees, faculty, and staff members seated in the West Lecture
Hall. In an apt demonstration of the center's technological
capabilities, an overflow crowd viewed the proceedings via a
video hookup in an adjacent classroom.
Architect Robert Schaeffner, Jr., principal of
Payette Associates, the firm that designed the center, noted
how the structure has altered the campus. "It's hard to
remember what was here before: a 300-foot-long blue building.
Looking at it now, no one would believe that."
Thomas J. Klutznick '61, chair of the Oberlin
Board of Trustees, spoke movingly from his background as a real-estate
developer, putting the Science Center into both educational
and societal contexts. "Rarely have I seen a building that
embodies the spirit and mission of the people it serves as well
as this one does," he said. "This building illustrates
the Oberlin ethos. When these young scientists go out into the
world, they are going to be fierce advocates of upsetting the
status quo. They are going to work--and work hard--to find ways
to prevent disease in the world's most vulnerable populations,
to create hybrid crops that resist drought and infestation,
to discover cures for mankind's most deadly diseases. ...They'll
be people who use their knowledge to change the world."
Dedication events continued Saturday morning with
three topical lectures by prominent scientists, including Donald
A. Henderson '50, founding director of the Hopkins Center for
Civilian Biodefense Strategies at Johns Hopkins University; Paul
O. Wennberg '85, professor of atmospheric chemistry and environmental
engineering at the California Institute of Technology; and Kenneth
R. Miller, professor of biology at Brown University.
Jeanne L. Narum, director of Project Kaleidoscope,
an informal alliance of individuals and institutions working
to strengthen undergraduate programs in science, mathematics,
and engineering, closed the dedication events with a short address.
"If I had a magic wand, or if someone gave me one wish,"
Narum said, "I'd wish that every college in America could
offer students the education you have here in this building."
Nancy S. Dye
Offers Dedication Remarks
Oberlin set off on the adventure of planning, designing, and
building its new Science Center in 1996. From the beginning,
our trustees, faculty, and administrators set high goals for
the project. Because Oberlin has long been a leader in undergraduate
science education, we wanted a center that would announce to
all that science is central to Oberlin's mission.
Because we believe that science is essential to
a liberal arts education, we wanted a center that would break
down the divide between the sciences and the humanities, welcoming
everyone and serving as a campus crossroads.
Because the traditional fields of science are
rapidly melding into interdisciplinary endeavors, we wanted
a center that would accommodate and encourage such work.
Because we have long known that students learn
science by doing science, and that serious scientific interest
is nurtured by opportunities for students to carry out research
with their professors, we wanted a center that would give every
faculty member an excellent research laboratory offering space
for sustained student research.
And because ours is a beautiful campus, we wanted
fine contemporary structures that would respect and refer to
Oberlin's distinguished historical architecture.
Over the past seven years, hundreds of people
have worked to achieve these goals. Today, we dedicate this
great new center, knowing that every goal we had set for it
has already been reached. We were able to accomplish this feat
due to the vision of our trustees; the creativity of our architects;
the knowledge and dedication of our faculty and our dean; the
generosity and enthusiasm of alumni, parents, and foundations;
the expertise and hard work of our contractors and project managers;
and the many tradespeople who labored to build these structures.
Many individuals deserve special thanks. Bill
Perlik '48 and Tom Klutznick '61, who each served as board chairs
over the years of this center's planning and construction, were
steadfast in their commitment to this project. Along with every
member of our board, they understood the strategic importance
of the center to Oberlin's future and committed themselves personally
to its success.
Bob Schaffner, our principal architect, and David
Feth, our project architect, proved themselves to be exceptionally
fine architects, colleagues, and friends. Oberlin will always
appreciate their creativity, their extraordinary expertise in
designing scientific facilities, and their ability to solve
any problem that emerged in designing this building.
Albert Matlin, who led the science facilities
committee, along with the faculty who served on that body, and
our dean, Clayton Koppes, who chaired the science executive
committee, provided fine leadership. The science facilities
committee took on the intricate and complicated work of leading
our planning and programming efforts and coordinating virtually
every academic and curricular aspect of this project. And we
are grateful to Sal Filardi, our project manager; Michael Bolanos,
our project oversight manager; Mosser Construction, our general
contractor; and our principal construction firms, Reliance Mechanical
Corporation, Electrical Corporation of America, and Siemen's
Many people have made gifts to this center. In
particular I want to thank our principal donors: Eric and Jane
Nord, Al Heininger '48, Oberlin parents George and Camilla Smith,
Myron Szold '55, Thomas Klutznick '61, Stewart '77 and Donna
Kohl, the GAR Foundation, and the Clowes Fund, Incorporated.
I want also to acknowledge the special gift made by David and
Marcia Chicoine in memory of their son, Jason Chicoine, who
was a member of the class of 1991. Willie Katzen '74 led the
successful alumni fundraising drive to honor Emeritus Professor
of Chemistry Norman Craig by naming the east lecture hall in
Most of all, I want to honor the memory of David
Love, who died in the winter of 2002. The science executive
for this project, David was director of sponsored programs at
Oberlin. He dreamed of building this center for many years,
and his vision, enthusiasm, intelligence, leadership, and love
of this College were essential to its completion. I only wish
he could be with us today.
Thanks to these individuals and many others,
Oberlin will continue to nurture the creativity, inventiveness,
enterprise, and imagination of many future distinguished scientists.
It is a great honor to dedicate this magnificent addition to
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