Photo by Jacob Reynolds
On a gloomy Saturday morning, the Drake University campus had a cheerful event to celebrate: the dedication of the STEM buildings.
The dedication of the STEM buildings brought many people to the campus, such as students, alumni, donors and onlookers. A large crowd of people flooded the sidewalks next to the chapel and the science connector building as the festivities got underway.
Near the lectern for the speakers, a few rows of chairs for donors and their families encompassed the scene as Vice President of University Advancement John Smith began to speak.
Smith greeted the onlookers and said the scene was composed of some of the “greatest” who made up the Drake community and welcomed David Golder of the Drake class of 1970 and a member of the Board of Trustees to speak.
“I think many of you know that STEM@Drake resulted in a $52 million investment on our campus,” Golder said. “It’s been more than 20 years since we dedicated new academic buildings on Drake’s campus, so this truly is a special moment for your university.”
Golder also mentioned a dinner happened the previous day to recognize donors and friends of the Drake community. Before taking leave, Golder recognized several people and businesses that helped the project unfold.
Joe Lenz, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, then came up to the lectern. Lenz said it was a “great day” to be a member of the Drake community for the dedication of the building. He continued, saying that the classrooms were equipped with the latest opportunity and that the science connector building “offers multiple opportunities” for transport around classes on campus. At the end of his speech, Lenz said the “buildings represent a great future” for the campus.
Dean of the School of Education Jan McMahill then gave a speech comparing the building of an education building on campus to a track race.
McMahill mentioned the plans for the education building were first shown over 10 years ago and the funding started off with a “sprint,” but the economic recession slowed down the progress and the school had to jump “high hurdles” to get support.
Over the years, the literal miles were traveled to get support for the project, such as traveling to Chicago and areas west of Des Moines to receive donations, which McMahill called “our own Drake Marathon.” McMahill then thanked Jim Collier and Debbie and Ric Scripps for their support for the project.
While Jim Collier, one of the people who had the education building named after him, could not make the ceremony (although he could see and hear through a live feed from his home), two people who did have the education building named after them were able to speak for the dedication ceremony. Ric Scripps spoke first and mentioned the support of his family with his wife Debbie, who the building is also named after, by his side.
“We know you’re not here to listen to us drone on,” said Ric. “You’re here to see this building.”
Ric, a Drake graduate of 1970, continued in mentioning how his education at Drake prepared him for his time as a junior high math teacher and mentioned he was blessed in many respects.
“Debbie and I have been blessed beyond words: our family, our health, and our ability to support organizations we are passionate about cannot be discounted,” Ric Scripps said. “Education is one of those passions. Let me just say that if the ‘E’ in STEM stood for engineering, we wouldn’t be here.”
Ric concluded his speech by thanking the people who had a hand in the structuring of the building and said the beneficiaries of the project are the students in the building.
Debbie Scripps then continued as one of the ceremony’s speakers, mentioning there were over 500 donors to the STEM buildings. Debbie then mentioned how, when she first moved to Drake in the fall of 1968, the School of Education was on 28th and University, and had never been on the campus since she was an undergraduate student. Debbie mentioned the dedication of McMahill in putting funding into the building.
“Now (the building) is finally standing, not only as a beacon for the School of Education, but as a beacon for all of Drake education,” Debbie said.
“The idea of blending science, technology, education and math as a campus-wide focus sends a message to our prospective students that Drake believes in their future and is willing to put its resources toward that goal. As each new crop of entering freshman comes through they will see a global community that is dedicated to ensuring the best for them,” Debbie concluded.
Student Body President Nathan Paulsen and University President Marty Martin were also supposed to speak, but oncoming precipitation stopped that plan. Martin then cut ribbons for both the Collier-Scripps building and the science connector building in front of a picture-taking crowd.
Later, in an interview, Paulsen said the ribbon cutting was his favorite part of the ceremony.
“The speeches were nice and well worthy of the donors, (but) the ribbon cutting gives you goosebumps,” Paulsen said.
At the end of the ceremony, visitors were allowed to tour the buildings as the rain began to set in.
Paulsen said the opportunity to be the first student body president to attend a dedication ceremony for a building was an “incredible opportunity. … That’s something I won’t forget, for sure.”
Emma Sheldon, a Drake PharmD student, covered the ceremony for the Drake University social media account “onpaintedstreet” over the weekend. Sheldon said she was intrigued that there were few students at the event.
“The only way they would be exposed to (the ceremony), so to speak, is through university publishings,” Sheldon said. “So being in charge of the student-led publishing, it was different.”
While Sheldon did not think the event would be a “learning experience” for students, she thought the ceremony would be a special event to see as a Drake student either way.
“It was more a thank you to our donors,” Sheldon said. “I learned more from just being there with the trustees and everybody and how they wanted it done as much as we did. … It’s not just students and faculty who are affected by these new buildings; it’s everybody who loves Drake.”