“I have had a month where I just can’t wipe the smile off my face,” biology professor Darcy Russell said Friday to members of the Baker University community.
Russell’s smile was one of many as donors, faculty, staff, students, alumni and trustees gathered to celebrate the official dedication of the Ivan L. Boyd Center for Collaborative Science Education at Baker University, a project that has been more than 10 years in the making.
The Boyd Center isn’t a new building but a renovated Mulvane Science Hall. Mulvane was constructed in the 1920s, and in the late 1990s, Baker University officials decided it was time for the building to get an update.
A committee of faculty, administration and trustees was formed, and plans to give Mulvane a makeover began.
“It was such a team effort to make this happen,” University President Pat Long said.
With the work of the committee and years of fundraising, plans were agreed upon, $10.3 million dollars was donated and construction began in fall 2011.
The building was gutted and renovated, and a 9,000-square-foot addition was added.
The addition is named Hartley Hall, after Baker University graduate Ross Hartley and his wife, Christine, and houses an office suite for faculty who teach in the Boyd Center.
“It didn’t take us very long to decide we’d help (with the project),” Ross said.
The Hartleys were among many donors, but their contribution of $1.6 million was one of the largest.
As a student studying and learning in Mulvane Science Hall, Ross said he never thought he would see his name on the side of a Baker University building. Now as an alumni and donor, he still finds it hard to believe a wing of one of his alma mater’s buildings is named after him and his wife.
“We’re very proud,” Ross said. “It’s very surreal.”
Junior pre-med student Sean Webb has most of his classes in the Boyd Center. He said the difference between the old Mulvane Hall and the renovated center is how much better the quality of the learning environment is.
“Walking into the building for the first time was definitely a ‘wow’ moment,” Webb said. “How new it looked, how updated it was — it was really night and day.”
Webb’s favorite part of the building is the bigger, specialized labs. A large part of the renovation plan was maximizing lab space instead of classrooms, and with the extra labs, Webb said, students will have a better chance to conduct more specific research, which could open doors for the future.
“I’m looking forward to all the opportunity it’s going to give (students),” Webb said.
The celebration of the building began with a dinner for donors Thursday and the dedication Friday and will continue through the weekend as the university celebrates homecoming.