Science Update

June 4, 2003

In May 2002, Baylor broke ground on its largest building project to date, the 508,000-square-foot science complex. The facility, located adjacent to the McLane Student Life Center on University Parks Drive, is scheduled to be completed in fall 2004. 
"It will be a world-class building to complement a world-class science program," says Rick L. Creel, assistant vice president for operations and facilities. 
The $103 million dollar complex includes a 300-seat auditorium, a variety of classroom sizes and a four-story atrium designed to promote student and faculty interaction. It will house biology, neuroscience, physics, chemistry and geology, as well as five separate interdisciplinary centers for prehealth education, molecular biosciences, drug discovery, reservoir research and scientific analysis. 
This multidisciplinary approach is essential, says Dr. Benjamin Pierce, a professor of biology who's helped coordinate the academic planning for the building. "The future trend is toward different science disciplines contributing to the solution of significant problems," he says. 
A change from the initial plans for the facility is that the mathematics and clinical psychology departments will remain in the Sid Richardson Science Building, Dr. Pierce says. Earlier this year, consultants expressed concern that future expansion of graduate programs in the sciences could be limited by space if all the departments made the transition to the new facility, he says. 
"The decision was made to try to put in the building those departments that have special needs that can be provided for in the science building," he says. Because Sid Richardson already had been scheduled for a renovation, the faculty in math and psychology took the news well, he says. "They're moving along with their own plans. Most importantly, they wanted to make sure they'd have adequate space to carry out their programs," he says. 
Other building projects proposed in the 10-year Vision include improving laboratories in the Engineering and Computer Science facilities, completing Phase II of the music building and creating an Academic Success Center, which will house a program aimed at increasing student retention and graduation rates by 10 percentage points by the year 2012. 
"We're taking these programs that have dynamite representations of what Baylor has to offer and we're getting the facilities to that same level," Creel says. "The building doesn't make the program, but a building can limit a program. What we're trying to do is take away any limitation by providing superb facilities in these strategic areas."