Photo by Alexis Cruz | Staff Photographer
BY DREW FINNEY
Construction for Collier-Scripps Hall and the Science Connector Building began almost a year ago and there has been concern about the project being completed on time. However, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Joseph Lenz said the building will be move-in ready over the summer.
“Move in for the Science Connector Building will begin July 19, and move in for Collier-Scripps will begin August 9,” Lenz said. “So people will be moved in before classes begin.”
With construction close to completion, those connected to the project are starting to feel excited.
“We’ve all been looking at the outside of the buildings and thinking about that,” said Vanessa Macro, Drake’s chief administration officer. “But now that we’re looking at the inside, that’s what is going to be exciting: how they’re going to be used.”
Plans for the buildings have been in the works for years.
“This project was envisioned as part of the Distinctly Drake Campaign,” Lenz said. “We’ve been aware of the need for these buildings for a while.”
The Distinctly Drake Campaign ran from 2007 to 2015, raising more than $200 million. This money was split between scholarships, endowments, professorships and the STEM project. Plans for the layout of the buildings began after the end of campaign.
Deputy Provost for Enrollment Management Keith Summerville is a member of the steering committee, which is comprised of professors, deans and staff members who have provided feedback on different aspects of the buildings.
“This is two years of planning, design, revision and more planning, design, revision,” Summerville said. “This didn’t just happen. This is the culmination of a lot of discussion between members of the staff and the contractor.”
From the beginning of the project, the steering committee has had input on various aspects of the buildings.
“I was involved mostly on a macro scale to determine what should go where,” Summerville said. “I stayed out of the discussions where the beneficiaries of the buildings, (the) faculty who were actually going to use them, were asked what they needed.”
The environmental science and policy program will not have a dedicated space in the STEM complex. However, the computer science program on floor three of Collier-Scripps will be home to mathematics and computer science.
Timothy Urness, associate professor of computer science, represents his department on the steering committee.
“We wanted to make sure that we had at least one classroom that could really suit the needs of computer science majors,” Urness said.
In Collier-Scripps, like in the connector building, classrooms will be modular so furniture can be moved to meet the needs of individual classes.
For Urness, the most important feature of one specific classroom will be the collaboration stations on the sides of the room.
“It will have displays mounted on the wall,” Urness said. “That way, a group of students can gather around while one student projects code.”
Most importantly, the new computer science space will offer room for the program, which has grown from 20 students to over 100 over the past decade. If you add the data analytics majors, a recently started collaboration between the School of Business and Public Administration and the Computer Science Department, then that number jumps to nearly 200.
This isn’t the only department experiencing growth.
“Across the board, our science programs have been growing (between) 10 and 15 percent per program,” Summerville said.
This growth translates to crowded labs and crowded buildings, especially during peak times of the day. The connector building will give the sciences room to expand.
The same goes for Collier-Scripps. It will also be the new home of the School of Education, which offers another major benefit in that it will be much closer to campus than before.
“There have been different plans for a School of Education building through the years, and each one put the building more central to campus,” Macro said. “Collier-Scripps is the realization of that goal.”
Once Collier-Scripps is complete, the future of the old School of Education Building remains uncertain.
“For now, Head Start and the Adult Literacy Center, two organizations that Drake works closely with, will be there,” Macro said. “But whether or not we ultimately keep the building will be discussed during the next few Board of Trustees meetings.”
Completing construction is only part of the future of STEM at Drake. Plans for the future include an athletic training master’s program, which will begin teaching students in fall 2019.