Centre College held a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 19. at Olin Hall, where construction has been well underway for several months.
Olin Hall was originally built in 1988 and is home to a number of the College’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classrooms and offices.
Dr. Ellen Goldey, dean and vice president for academic affairs, said while Olin Hall is under construction, other spaces around campus have been made available for classes and offices that were housed in the building.
It wasn’t easy, but many people worked together to make it happen, she said. “In the end, it will be worth it,” she added. “Any great college can only be as great as their facilities allow.”
The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation of Cincinnati, Ohio, gave a $3 million grant to Centre to support the renovation and expansion of Olin Hall. The expansion will be named the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Science and Mathematics.
“The new center represents an expansion of Olin Hall’s square footage by about a third,” said Leonard Demoranville, associate professor of chemistry, who serves as project shepherd. “From the exterior, the grand portico will match the architectural style of campus quad, without competing with the stately columns in front of Young. Inside, we will have expanded laboratory space for physics and computer science, a lab that has never existed before for environmental science, and chemistry will have fewer, but better designed labs.”
In addition to new classrooms, the current ones will be updated. Demoranville said several new offices will allow the math and environmental studies programs to be reunited in one building. Finally, there will also be more student collaborative space available.
“All of these additions mean we will be better able to serve our students,” he added. “New classrooms will have the appropriate space to house the number of students in those classes. The technology will be updated to current campus standards. New lab spaces will provide a better environment for our students to learn techniques and conduct faculty mentored research. The collaborative spaces and offices will enable more frequent collaboration between students in faculty in the various disciplines that will find a home in the building.”
Another addition to Olin Hall will be Centre’s first mother/baby room on campus. This will provide a private space for new mothers who serve as faculty and staff members.
“As a professor, it is really meaningful that campus leadership has decided to invest in this way,” Demoranville said. “There are lots of priorities and needs on campus, and the decision to champion Olin Hall demonstrates a commitment to the academic mission of campus.”
Demoranville applauds Brian Hutzley, vice president and chief financial officer and treasurer, for his diligent work to find ways to fund the project. He also recognizes Wayne King, director of facilities management, who has done an amazing job prioritizing what needs to happen for his crew to be able to operate and maintain the building. In addition, President John A. Roush and the Board of Trustees have also recognized the need for a higher budget than originally anticipated, and each of them have played an important role in shaping the outcomes Centre will be able to achieve in the expanded Olin Hall.
“It has really been a fun process,” Demoranville concluded. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for trusting me to coordinate this work. Working with the team from Omni Architects through the design process was an absolute blast. I have learned so much from them. As we begin the construction phase, I’m looking forward to learning from the construction crew at Wehr.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
November 21, 2019