Construction Begins for R-MC’s New Science Building (VIDEO)


A groundbreaking kick-off for the new Science Building was held on May 2, 2016.

Photos: Groundbreaking for new Science Building

3-D Rendering: Video

Randolph-Macon College held a groundbreaking kick-off event for the new science building on May 2, 2016 at the construction site near the Copley Science Center. The groundbreaking, which was attended by R-MC students, President Robert R. Lindgren, Provost and Physics Professor William T. Franz, and science faculty, marked the beginning of construction on a new 30,000-square-foot science building.

Lindgren says the building provides students with unprecedented opportunities.

"Excellent facilities are an essential part of the R-MC experience, and our new science building will provide our students with even greater opportunities to sharpen their skills and expand their world of knowledge," he says. "This new facility, which houses laboratory, classroom, and study space, reflects the college's strong commitment to the sciences and will greatly further the tradition of outstanding teaching and scholarship across the sciences at R-MC."

Franz says, "The new building helps students become confident researchers and scientists and provide our faculty with a first-class facility to complement our outstanding science curriculum. It will also help us attract the brightest students and provide them with enriching classroom and research opportunities."

R-MC faculty in attendance included Professors Michael Fenster (environmental studies), Serge Schreiner (chemistry), Melanie Gubbels Bupp (biology), James Foster (biology), Traci Stevens (biology), George Spagna (physics), Kelly Lambert (psychology), and Chas. Gowan (biology and environmental studies). Also in attendance were Grant Azdell (vice president for student affairs and dean of students), Diane Lowder (vice president for college advancement), and Paul Davies (vice president of administration and finance).

Carrington Wentz '17, the 2016-2017 president of the Student Government Association, was at the kick-off. Wentz says that the new building is a great addition to an already robust campus.

"I'm a business major, but thanks to R-MC's liberal arts curriculum, I've taken classes all along the academic spectrum," says Carrington, a recipient of the Macon and Joan Brock Scholarship. "Sooner or later, all students take a science class or two at R-MC. Students in all disciplines will benefit from the new building—and the new facility may also help students who haven't yet decided on their major or minor find their passion and commit to one of the science disciplines."

Paranjay Patel '19Lindsei Hamilton '19Brennan Terhune-Cotter '16, and Eddie Saunders III '19 also attended the event.

R-MC's New Science Building 
The three-story facility adjoins the northwest side of Copley Science Center and houses the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Studies/Geology. A 40-foot-long connector provides access between Copley Science Center and the new science facility.

In addition, a new Keeble Observatory was constructed and connects to the second floor of the northeast side of Copley Science Center.

The science building includes state-of-the-art research laboratories; innovative teaching laboratories; faculty offices; spacious conference rooms for mentoring science students, including dedicated space to meet with and advise students interested in healthcare careers; and energy- and water-saving technologies along with recycled and renewable materials to comply with LEED "green building" standards.

Extraordinary Support 
In conjunction with the college's Building Extraordinary campaign, the college set forth an overall goal of $22.2 million to build a new science building and a new observatory, and to renovate Copley Science Center and Smithey Hall. The renovations took place several years ago. Reaching the target of $17.5 million specifically for the new science building was particularly exciting and gratifying, says Lindgren.

"The R-MC community is exceedingly thankful to our donors—alumni, friends, parents, and community members—who believe in the life of this college," he says.

Several donors have been extraordinarily generous in making the new science building a reality.

Macon F. Brock Jr. '64 serves as chair of the Building Extraordinary Campaign. He and his wife Joan Brock gave millions to support the priorities of the campaign, which included the new Brock Commons student center. Their gifts also supported the new science building.

Birdsong Hall, a residential facility for upperclassmen, is named for Thomas Birdsong '49 and The Birdsong Corporation, and construction was made possible through their $2.1 million gift. The family and corporation have also supported the Birdsong Peaks of Excellence Center, the Birdsong Townhouses, the Birdsong Café, and Brock Hall.

Chemistry Professor Serge Schreiner and his wife Linda made a gift of $500,000 to support the construction of the new science building.

Provost William T. Franz and his wife Patty were among the first donors to the new building and renovations. Their gift of $35,000 is representative of the commitment that Franz and other faculty members feel for Randolph-Macon and its mission. 

The new science building was completed in summer 2017.