A Firm Foundation for
Science Superiority

by Lynn Sullivan '89


A 37,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art science addition-made possible by a $6.4 million gift from the F.W. Olin Foundation-will make Colby's science program pre-eminent among small liberal arts colleges, according to the biology professor who helped bring it about.

"The new Olin building will give Colby one of the premier science divisions in the country," said Russell Cole, Oak Professor of Biological Sciences and chair of the department. "It is going to be attractive to prospective and current students, it will help retain and attract faculty, and it will increase the enrollment in the sciences."

Colby was one of three colleges selected to receive the award from a pool of 79 applicants. An Olin grant is considered one of the most prestigious honors that a college can receive; it is the largest foundation grant in Colby's history.Construction on the Olin Science Center is slated to begin in March 1995 and should be completed by the fall of 1996. The building will be perpendicular to the Arey Building on a site that is now a parking lot.

"The increase in space will allow us to redeploy and reconfigure space throughout the science complex," said Cole. "We will be able to have a more hands-on approach to learning and that will increase the opportunities that faculty and students have to work together.

"Research institutes have a focus on research with relatively few students participating," said Cole. "Colby has a very hands-on approach allowing for a lot of students to do the research themselves. This new building will put us ahead of the pack of our peer institutions. It will allow us to move further and faster in the sciences."

Highlighting the building is the new 10,000-square-foot science library. Approximately four times the size of the Keyes science library, the new area will occupy the first floor and part of the basement. There will be three to four times the seating capacity in addition to group discussion and private reading areas. All the library's reading spaces will be wired to the College's computer network, allowing students to work from their personal computers. Although there will be no increase in periodical acquisitions, the library is designed to accommodate future purchases.

The section of basement not used by the library will have a 100-seat study room equipped for classes, lectures and guest speakers. There is a 30-seat classroom with audio-visual support, a seminar room and a computer center with 16 high-powered Macintosh computers.

The building's second floor will house clusters of technologically advanced classrooms to be used for teaching and research. Clustering keeps the teaching areas in close proximity to faculty offices, resource centers and lab areas, enabling faculty and students to work closely together, Cole says.

A greenhouse, aquarium, maintenance and storage areas, herbarium, organismal lab, a pollen analysis lab and environmental chambers (large, environment-controlled refrigerated units) occupy the third floor. There also are private discussion and study areas on this level.

The three existing science buildings-Mudd, Keyes and Arey, which are connected by elevated walkways-will be attached to the Olin building by a second- and third-level bridge.

The entire science complex will be redesigned to accommodate the cluster environment. The linking of each building in addition to the redeployment of space will, for instance, allow for the environmental components of each science division to be situated on the second level of the entire complex.

Cole says that the new facility will allow more research projects like the one with the Belgrade Lake Association, in which students try to identify environmental problems. Also, science teachers from the local community will be able to become more involved in research projects and workshops, he says.

The science building is the culmination of five years of work by the science faculty, led by Cole; Peyton R. Helm, vice president for development and alumni relations; Linda Goldstein, director of corporate and foundation relations; Robert P. McArthur, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty. Members of the science faculty examined science facilities at15 colleges, including Colorado College, Bucknell, Swarthmore, Occidental, and Bowdoin as part of a comprehensive needs analysis of the department. They found that lack of space prevented Colby from developing its plans for a "hands-on" science curriculum. The addition of a science building and the subsequent "ripple effect" on existing facilities, says Cole, was seen as a key to making Colby's sciences a nationally recognized department.

According to Cole, when the doors of the Olin Building open in a year and a half, the new science center will be "a model for teaching undergraduate science."

More for Museum Wing
A love for the liberal arts, and a desire to give the College "maximum flexibility" in meeting its needs led Audrey Wade Hittinger Katz '57 and her husband, Sheldon, to establish the $1.1 million Katz Professorship for Distinguished Teaching. As conceived, the professorship could be used for one of several purposes, including to support "junior chair" appointments-scholars recruited for tenure-track positions in a variety of fields; to appoint, recruit and retain an outstanding professor to a fully endowed traditional chair; to support the Spotlight Lecture series; or to support an as yet undefined need or personal program that the president and the Katzes feel is a College priority.

"We are very impressed with the quality of the administration at Colby; it's really top notch," Audrey Katz said. "We feel like they have a better idea of how best to address the College's needs, so we wanted to provide a lot of flexibility [in using these funds]."

Katz says she and her husband both are strong believers in undergraduate liberal arts education. "We wanted to support the liberal arts because both of us come from that background and all of our children have attended liberal arts colleges as well," she said. "Colby is just such a good place. People there aren't just doing a job, they really care about what they're doing. They're trying to make Colby better and trying to make the world better."

Katz is vice president of Data Prompt Inc., a computer company she and her husband established in the late 1970s. Sheldon Katz, who once left the computer field to become a developer, recognized a need for computerized management of contracts and subcontracts and conceived Data Prompt to fill that niche. Now 150 employees strong, Data Prompt handles service contracts for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Audrey Katz, who says her math degree led to her first job, remembers her years at Colby as "very happy." "I look back now and wish I would have taken advantage of more things when I was there, but that's one of the lessons of being 19 years old. I've always thought Colby was a wonderful place."

The Katz professorship brings to 24 the number of endowed chairs at Colby. "The Katz's gift will give the College tremendous flexibility as we strive to enhance the quality of an already outstanding faculty," said President William Cotter.

Belief in Colby Spurs New Chair
Colby Trustee Paul J. Schupf has contributed an additional $500,000 to his initial gift of $150,000 toward the construction of a new wing at the Colby Museum of Art. The new wing will contain 414 works given by artist Alex Katz, in addition to Colby's substantial Katz holdings.

Schupf's gift brings to almost $1.2 million the funds raised for the $1.5 million project.

The impetus behind the new wing, which will be named the Schupf Wing for the Katz Collection, grew out of a 1985 Alex Katz exhibit, featuring Schupf's collection, held jointly by Bowdoin and Colby. Schupf, who has been collecting his work since 1973, suggested a new permanent Katz gallery. In 1993, when Katz offered to donate more than 400 works, planning for the new wing took shape.

"It was the commitment of [museum director] Hugh Gourley, Bill Cotter, Ada and Alex Katz and Colby that was the motivation for the gift," said Schupf, who says he is a tremendous fan of all five.

In addition to the $650,000 for the museum wing, Schupf gave $12,000 for Silicon Graphic computer work stations for the biology department, and has pledged an additional $338,000 which has not been allocated, bringing his total campaign gift to $1 million.

Construction on the 8,000-square-foot museum wing is scheduled to begin during the summer of 1995 and should be completed the following spring. It is specifically designed to display Katz's paintings, prints, drawings and cutouts and has storage space for works not currently on exhibit.

Schupf is an investment advisor in Hamilton, N.Y. He has loaned the Colby museum many Katz pictures and has donated works by other artists, including Ed Ruscha and Christo, from his personal collection.


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