Adapted from remarks by Don Deeds '69, professor of biology, delivered during dedication ceremonies October 25, 2002.
To give you a little perspective, I've been connected with science education at Drury since I was 17 years old. I came here as a student in the fall of 1965. At that time we were doing our science in Pearsons Hall. Pearsons was a fine place and actually I've got lots of very interesting stories about doing our very best to blow up the chemistry lab. I and my running buddy Fred Gorelick, who is now a professor at the medical school at Yale, we did blow it up - we just were not quite successful at bringing it down. It is actually quite a study building!
|Physics professor Oscar Fryer|
One of the things I have always appreciated, besides just the facility, is the wonderful quality of teaching that has taken place within the science faculty, but really just across the board, from all of our disciplines here on campus. Certainly, some of the photographs and paintings that are actually behind us here of faculty from when I was here as a student: Jorge Padron, who I know is here today, Lora Bond, and Oscar Fryer, I think kind of exemplifies what science education at Drury has always been. It's been a very personal thing; it's been the highest quality, sort of in spite of the facilities in some cases. I think we, as a community, can be very proud of what is going on in some of our former science buildings.
I think at some point, probably in the early 1990s, it was becoming obvious to us, as a faculty and as an administration, that Lay was not really adequate, and was not going to continue to be adequate for the dreams that we had for science education here at Drury. Early in that process, probably about '93 or so, what we really had in mind was we were going to spiff Lay up a bit, kind of clean it up, which God knows it needed. We were then going to probably tack on a similar size concrete block building, kind of "T" it in down there toward the tennis courts, and that was what we needed. And we wrote what at that time I thought was a very professional grant to the Reynolds Foundation, which Judy Martin was shepherding along. We were very vocal. We said we could use a million and a half dollars and this was going to satisfy our need for science education at Drury. And we didn't get it; we were all very crushed, very disappointed. Probably the single best thing that has ever happened to us is that we weren't funded.
So we spent some time, early in the summer of 1994 as a science faculty, trying to design a curriculum that we thought would be appropriate for these students. That wasn't an easy thing to do. At that point I would say that we were a science faculty that was as separated as any traditional science faculty in higher education: the biologists had one camp, and the physicists had another camp, and the chemists had another camp.
Something really kind of magic happened to us along the way and that was that we began to see science not as something that had its specific domains, but as something that we did collectively. It certainly then began to make us think about how we should teach in a certain way. And it made us think that if we were going to teach in that way, well, then our current facilities just weren't going to do it. And it wasn't going to do it to just tack on an addition to Lay and spiff it up.
We really needed to think about much bigger in all sorts of ways, not just bigger in size. Our vision needed to be bigger. And, I think, again, something magical happened. It became bigger. The faculty realized that we needed a different type of facility. Dr. Moore, on his behalf, I think realized that that was appropriate, too. The Dean I think began to support this and the development office certainly got behind it.
The architect, Bill Odell, is here from HOK [principal architects Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, St. Louis]. I loved the comment he made. This has been a few years ago now, but I think it is really, really appropriate. He said, "There are a lot of science buildings being built, and there are people spending a lot of money to do them, but they are building really nice renditions of 19th century science." And he said, "You all are doing something here that is the only building I have ever seen that is a 21st century building devoted to science." And I think we should all be incredibly proud and gratified that this is what we've ended up with.
I know from the standpoint of the faculty, we couldn't be happier with it. We are so incredibly appreciative and excited about the work we are going to do here with our students, and the research we are going to conduct here with our students, and the teaching we are going to do. It's more than a dream come true. Nobody 10 years ago could have had this dream. Nobody had a dream this big. Yet we somehow pulled it off. That's a credit to the people you see seated down here and their support and the work that they have done and that is true for all of the trustees, and the development staff and Judy in particular and we are all just so, so pleased with the work that you have done for us. Again, I just wanted to thank all of you. If you haven't looked around yet, it is an unbelievable place. Check it out and you too will be proud of what we have done here.