UMD held groundbreaking ceremonies today for the $33 million Swenson Science Building to be constructed on the UMD campus.
The new 89,000 square foot structure is named for Jim Swenson, a 1959 UMD chemistry graduate. Jim and Susan Swenson, through the Swenson Family Foundation, made a gift of $7.5 million to help fund the new building, providing impetus to local legislative leaders who led the way toward the $25.5 million in state funding.
"Jim Swenson has been a strong advocate for science education and undergraduate research opportunities as well as a great friend to UMD," said Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin. "This state-of-the-art building will provide outstanding opportunities for learning and inquiry as our scientific knowledge advances at an amazing pace. UMD is enormously grateful to the Swenson Family Foundation and to our area legislators for making this wonderful building possible."
The three story building is set for completion in the spring of 2005 and will house the departments of chemistry and biology. It will be located on Kirby Drive (just off College Street), with a bridge over Kirby Drive connecting it to the adjacent Life Science Building. The design incorporates two wings. The exterior of the teaching wing will be clad with taconite. The research wing will be built of brick and metal. A large picture window on the front will illuminate a two-story atrium and provide a full-scale view of outdoor areas.
The new science structure is designed to encourage collaborative learning and will contain faculty-student research labs, teaching labs, undergraduate research areas, computer teaching labs, a student study room, and a lounge area. The new building replaces structures built in 1949 (chemistry) and 1968 (biology) and will provide a high standard and safe learning environment for complex experiments, research and teaching. Over 1,000 students per semester will receive instruction in the building. All first and second-year chemistry and biology classes will be taught there.
"By any measure, UMD is one of the leading institutions in the nation in terms of providing opportunities for undergraduate students to do research with a faculty member," said James Riehl, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering (CSE). "During the last academic year more than 100 CSE students were involved in an undergraduate research project. CSE students regularly present the results of their research at regional and national scientific meetings. The Swenson Science Building will allow us to enhance and expand this vital role in providing superior science education."
UMD currently enrolls over 900 students majoring in chemistry, biology and pre-professional (medical) programs.