CHADRON – Chadron State College celebrated the beginning of its largest construction project in history Friday when employees, students, alumni, and supporters attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Math Science Center Of Innovative Learning (COIL). The $32 million renovation and expansion will begin later this fall.
Friday’s groundbreaking featured a series of speakers expressed thanks and recognized the milestone is a result of many people working collaboratively.
Dr. Joyce Hardy, Professor, served as the master of ceremonies. Hardy, who has a long history with the building – both as a student and professor – recounted CSC’s long tradition of excellence in its math and science programs.
“These faculty offered opportunity, professionalism, and mentoring. In a time when significant gender and race inequities existed, this building and campus were warm, welcoming, supportive, and proactively inclusive. They pushed us to excel at levels we were not aware we were capable of,” Hardy said.
Faculty and students interlaced their affinity for math and science into the ceremony. The former Foucalt pendulum that hung from the ceiling in the center of the spiral stairwell will become a time capsule. And in lieu of fireworks, students ignited balloons filled with hydrogen and various salts to create different colored explosions. Additionally, the faculty and staff christened the building for its renovation voyage by shattering roses freeze dried in liquid nitrogen against the columns of the north doorway.
Nebraska State College System (NSCS) Chancellor Dr. Paul Turman noted that the building has been a priority for the Nebraska State College System since 2014.
He explained the important timing of several conditions that made the project a reality, including a 15-year bond period approved by the Nebraska legislature and the governor.
He said the governor and members of the appropriations committee could clearly see the need for the facility and the value of making such an investment, but they also wanted the college to articulate the anticipated return on investment. Turman outlined four contributions the building will provide to the campus, community, and region over the next 50 years.
“First, enrollment in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) is going to continue to increase as a result of having a state of the art facility. We anticipate we're going to be able to grow our enrollment by additional 100 students,” Turman said. “The second benefit is our ability to be able to educate students in a more student-centered learning environment than what was envisioned when this building was built.”
Turman said the third return from the upgrade is to provide a significant community outreach and learning facility for the region’s middle school and high school students who visit campus. The Dr. Lois Veath planetarium, and new areas for world-class collections in the Herbarium, and Eleanor Barbour Cook Museum of Geology will tell the story of the region's rich history and showcase geological, paleontological and herbarium artifacts currently in storage.
The final point, he said, is the importance to be able to recruit future faculty.
Dr. Randy Rhine, president of Chadron State College, paid tribute to the many students who have come through the building and their contributions to the community, region, state of Nebraska, and the world.
“As we worked on this project, I had the opportunity to travel around this great region and country talking to our alumni about this project. Their stories are amazing and their generosity is unbelievable and humbling. Their love and appreciation for Chadron State College is apparent in the fact that today we will break ground on facility that would not be happening if it were not for that generosity,” Rhine said.
Marjean Terrell, an NSCS Board member and former chair of the Chadron State Foundation, said math and science students have consistently shined in their professional programs because of the nurturing, yet tough, faculty. Also a CSC alumna, she returned to CSC in the 1990s as an adjunct faculty member and echoed Hardy’s praise of the faculty.
“These faculty are the most outstanding people on the face of the earth because they care so much about these students. Even though they have to leave the building, they are keeping the students’ education at the same level,” Terrell said.
The building will meet contemporary laboratory and teaching standards and replace deficient and outdated laboratory furnishings and mechanical and electrical and plumbing systems with state-of-the-art facilities designed for energy efficiency. The new facility will conform to indoor air quality standards with modern safety measures for storage and use of chemicals.
The new north wing will connect with the main campus walkway allowing students and faculty improved access to the building. A new southern entrance will also allow visitors and public an accessible and convenient route to the facility.
The building will house a variety of audiovisual-intensive spaces including a lecture hall with two 120-inch projection screens, classrooms, active learning labs, teaching laboratories, study spaces, and an active learning classroom with a 98-inch flat panel display board. The audiovisual technologies in the building will create a collaborative learning and social environment to enhance the learning experience for students on campus, those with disabilities, and those learning remotely.
—CSC College Relations