UWSP breaks ground on new science building
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) dignitaries and state Gov. Scott Walker hailed the new UWSP Science Building as a commitment to the Stevens Point campus, its staff, students, curriculum and the future during a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, May 5.
“It’s more than just a science building,” said Christopher Cirmo, dean of the College of Letters and Science. “It’s a commitment to higher education in central Wisconsin … it will become a hive of activity on this campus.”
Cirmo recognized several people involved in moving the $75 million project forward, many of whom were present, including state representatives; local officials connected with the city, county and businesses and councils; and Walker.
“This has taken on a much greater meaning than just a science building,” Chancellor Bernie Patterson said. “We all have a role to play, and we all helped make this happen … that’s what’s so neat about this campus.”
Amidst booing and shouts to “stop the cuts” and “stop pretending to care about science,” Walker thanked university administration and staff for their support of students and praised the work being done at the university.
“We’re going to focus on good projects like this,” he said in a brief statement riddled with interruptions from protesters. “(This is) a reflection … not just of what’s taught here, but everything that’s connected to it.”
The State Building Commission approved $75 million in capital funding as part of the 2013-15 biennium budget and granted authority to spend the funds in April 2015. An additional $182,000 from UWSP student fees and program revenue funds will be used for a vegetative green roof on a portion of the building as well as a small café.
Construction already has begun by Miron at the site, located along Fourth Avenue and adjacent to the current Science Building. The existing Science Building will continue to house other academic programs, the planetarium and observatory.
The new building will have a research focus and house chemistry and biology programs, along with labs, classrooms and lecture halls.
Construction of the new four-story building is expected to be completed by spring 2018. It is the first major, free-standing academic facility built on campus since 1971.
“You’re constructing minds for the future,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “The process of engaging students … is one of the most exciting, dynamic processes in the world. I would argue the university is one of the most future-oriented entities ever created. It’s everything we do.”
The 176,500-square-foot building will contain three 48-seat classrooms, two 24-seat classrooms, two 98-seat lecture halls and research and teaching labs for biology and chemistry on each floor. Flexible room configurations combined with modern technology will support hands-on learning and student research, hallmarks of a UWSP education.
The new building will put science on display, inviting students and the public to see and feel science education and research as it happens, Cirmo said.
“I am truly humbled to be part of this campus,” he said.
The $75 million in capital funding can only be used for this building. The capital budget is separate from the base state operations budget. Cuts proposed to the UW System budget for the 2015-17 biennium are not affected by the capital budget, nor can they be reduced by not constructing the science building.