Baylor's World-Class Science Research And Teaching Facility Dedicated

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Sept. 24, 2004

by Judy Long


Watch the dedication ceremony of the Baylor Sciences Building via streaming video at BaylorTV.com.

After seven years of planning and two years of construction, Baylor University formally dedicated its world-class science teaching and research facility - the $103.3 million Baylor Sciences Building - during a ceremony Sept. 24 on the magnificent building's outdoor plaza.

The 508,000-square-foot building, which opened for classes Aug. 23, consolidates the traditional science disciplines of chemistry, biology, geology, physics and neurology, as well as most of Baylor's prehealth programs. The facility includes 32 classrooms and lecture halls, more than 150 teaching and research laboratories, and faculty, graduate student and administrative offices.

Dr. Wallace L. Daniel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, welcomed the overflow crowd of faculty, staff, students, media and others attending the ceremony. He remarked Baylor had been looking forward to this day as the culmination of years of planning.

"For many years Baylor has emphasized the sciences - disciplines that are rooted in the university's mission of preparing students for careers of service and leadership. With the completion of this state-of-the-art multidisciplinary sciences facility, Baylor will continue to develop this focus on the healing professions," Daniel said.

Multidisciplinary is the key term when it comes to describing the Baylor Sciences Building. The premier facility will allow for more collaboration between the traditional sciences disciplines, support diverse teaching and learning styles, increase student-faculty research and interaction, and encourage learning communities outside the classroom.

The Baylor Sciences Building also includes five multidisciplinary research centers on Prehealth Education, Drug Discovery, Molecular Biosciences, Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, and Scientific Analysis and Computing.

Since 97 percent of all undergraduate students take one or more science courses at Baylor, the facility will be used by nearly every student.

"The Baylor Sciences Building is fostering our cross-discipline approach--all for the benefit of Baylor students," he said.

Dr. David L. Jeffrey, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the opening of the building brings Baylor into the ranks of those who will lead and support scientific progress in the 21st century. In addition, Jeffrey remarked that the significance of "this great Baylor event" transcends the boundaries the campus; it represents the evolution of modern science, he said.

"We have come to confirm, at ever higher levels, that theory and experiment, metaphysics and physics, are intimately reciprocal, and, in the very design of this building, we recognize that the conversation between them composes the beauty of science," Jeffrey said. "It is fitting that for such experiments in beauty, a beautiful environment - this magnificent palace for ideas and their exploration - should have been created as a gift to our students, a reward to our faculty and a sacrifice of praise to the glory of our Creator God."

Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. also acknowledged current and former regents and trustees, who were an integral part of the seven-year long planning process. Sloan also recognized representatives from the building's architectural firm, HarleyEllis, and from the BECK Group, who served as general contractor.

Baylor's president then spoke about the university's integration of academic excellence and Christian commitment that uniquely equips students to be tomorrow's leaders, especially as science and technology merge.

"This creates ethical and social challenges our future professionals must face," Sloan said. "Baylor's heritage and vision uniquely position us to meet this challenge, and this tremendous facility is a vehicle in helping transform lives."

Dr. Ben Pierce, professor of biology who oversaw the academic planning for the facility, said faculty, staff, students, regents and others spent months determining a common vision for the sciences building, years before actual ground was broken.

"We developed five goals for the building, which would shape the future of science at Baylor," Pierce said. "We wanted to create a connection between the sciences, encourage an interactive science community, support a diversity of teaching and learning styles, create a culture of discovery and create a science facility that was safe and flexible, and I believe we have done that."

Truman Scholar Kristin Kan, a senior University Scholar from Arlington and student body external vice president, offered the prayer of dedication, as all in attendance were invited inside the massive structure for tours led by students.

Over the summer, Baylor brought online more than one-million square feet of facilities, including the Baylor Sciences Building, the North Village Residential Community, the Sue and Frank Mayborn Natural Science and Cultural History Museum Complex, and the East Campus Parking Facility.

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