Stonehill Campaign Attains the Summit
August 12, 2010
Drive on to campus from the main entrance off Belmont Street (Route 123) and the first thing you see is the stunning new Tom and Mary Shields Science Center.
"It's a first-class academic building that completes the picture for the sciences at Stonehill," says Dillon. "The quality of our science facility now matches the quality of our science program."
In April, Associate Professor of Biology and co-Director of the Neuroscience Program Sharon Ramos Goyette succeeded in growing neurons (brain cells) in cell culture, with research assistants Courtney Ryan '10 and Kevin McEnroy '11. "A first at Stonehill, this experiment represented a watershed moment in the kinds of research that can be carried out in the new Shields Science Center - work that was attempted but nearly impossible to carry out in the old science building," Dillon explains.
Prospective students are responding positively to the Shields Center. Since its opening in fall 2009, the number of science majors has risen from 13 percent of the student body to 23 percent.
"That's strengthened our overall profile because over the years, science students have been among our strongest students academically," Dillon says. "In addition, it's dramatically increased the number of corporate grants we've received for sophisticated scientific equipment."
Beyond the study of science, "the building has transformed campus," Dillon concludes. "By routing a loop road around the Shields Center, we've realized the vision of creating a pedestrian campus. The Peggy and Ray Pettit P'85 Atrium, with a Dunkin Donuts and plenty of tables, seating options and study nooks, has become a central gathering place for students. No matter when you walk through there, you see students and faculty meeting over a cup of coffee or study groups gathered around one of the movable white boards."
The conclusion of Attaining the Summit leaves the College with its first three academic chairs: the Lawrence and Theresa Salameno Chair in American History, established by Trustees Lawrence and Theresa Salameno; the Rev. Francis Hurley, C.S.C., Chair in Biology [pictured left], established by Dr. Thomas and Margaret (Hurley) Vanderslice; and a soon-to-be-announced third chair.
"In academic circles, the creation of chairs is seen as a sign of maturity for an institution," explains Timothy Lawlor '81, assistant vice president for advancement. An academic chair operates similarly to an endowed scholarship fund: a donor's gift is invested, with a portion of the interest providing for a faculty member's salary as well as funds for research, whether it's student assistants, computer software or related travel.