Story by Avery Gregurich
Photos by Cameron Johnson
The extensive renovations were made possible by a generous donation by Cathy and Steve Lacy. The lab will be used for student lab experiments and research.
Members of the Board of Trustees, Advisory Council, President’s Cabinet and faculty and staff were in attendance.
The ceremony began with a welcoming address from the Dean of The College of Arts and Sciences Joseph Lenz.
He said that the newly structured lab is “essential” and will “make hands-on learning a possibility” for students. He also sees the lab as a direct response to recent changes in the science curriculum.
“Learning in the sciences has become more collaborative,” Lenz said.
President David Maxwell spoke next of the Lacys’ unending support of the university.
Cathy Lacy is a member of the Board of Trustees, and her husband was awarded the Community Leadership Award in 2010. Steve Lacy works as the CEO and chairman of Meredith Corporation.
Maxwell also said the new Lacy Organic Lab fulfills one of Drake University’s commitments.
“(It) helps keep Drake’s promise to students of an exceptional learning environment,” Maxwell said.
Benefactor Cathy Lacy echoed President Maxwell’s remarks.
“The sciences are a top priority at Drake University,” Lacy said. “It was our intention for this organic chemistry lab to help attract future students into Drake’s fine science curriculums.”
The renovations weren’t just for prospective students, though. Lacy estimated that 270 students from both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences would use the facility this year.
The renovation also held some personal ties for Lacy.
She graduated with an undergraduate degree in dietetics and nutrition from Kansas State University.
“I spent a lot of time in organic lab as an undergrad,” Lacy said.
Lacy went on to obtain her graduate degree in public administration from Drake in 1986.
When she and her husband visited her alma mater, they found that the existing organic lab was “a good place to start” a renovation project.
Renovations began in May and were completed before students returned in August.
Maria Bohorquez, department chair and professor of chemistry at Drake, studied labs in several different institutions to get ideas for the new space.
She looked at labs at Grinnell College, Luther College and Iowa State University in Iowa, as well as St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She is more than pleased with the way the lab has been transformed, saying the renovations are “just as the drawings” she proposed.
The lab was created by combining three smaller rooms into one large space. The three smaller labs were constructed in 1949.
This merger allows natural light from room-spanning windows facing Forest Avenue. The space houses new teaching tables, safety hoods and up-to-date safety showers and eye-washes. There is also increased storage space in the facility.
Adam Riesselman spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday. Riesselman, a senior biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major feels that the space is a major improvement from its predecessor.
“(In the old lab) the sinks weren’t very reliable and the desks were too short for me,” Riesselman said. “The layout is nice for teaching and it is state of the art.”
He sees this renovation as yet another positive step in Drake’s recent modernization efforts, referencing the recent work done in the Cline Atrium and other improvements in the science buildings.
“Drake University’s science infrastructure is increasing vastly,” Riesselman said. “Unfortunately, I won’t be around to see what other changes are in store.”
He mirrors the opinion held by Maxwell and Lacy of the renovated lab as a selling point for prospective science students.
“Drake got an amazing gift: a lab space that will encourage better students from around the nation to attend,” Riesselman said.