Ground Breakings Signal Move from Planning to Action

(Left to right) Cricket the dog; Marion Craig Potter '49, donor to the science building; President Joanne Creighton; Donal O'Shea, dean of the faculty; Aaron Ellison, Fisher Associate Professor of Environmental Studies; and Eleanor Graham Claus '55, MHC board of trustees chair.

Celebrating the transformation of years of planning into action, members of the MHC community gathered March 31 to break ground for two ambitious building and expansion projects that promise to deepen and enrich the teaching of the arts and sciences.

More than 150 College officials, alumnae, students, faculty, and other members of the MHC community were on hand outside the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum at 10 am to celebrate the start of the expansion and renovation of the thirty-year-old building. After lunch, they gathered once more outside Shattuck Hall, to mark the start of construction of a 38,000-square-foot building that will transform Clapp, Shattuck, Cleveland, and Carr into the Unified Science Center. The two projects have a total cost of $40.6 million.

In presentations after each ground breaking, attendees learned about the planning that has gone into each project and got a glimpse of things to come, through computer-generated, virtual "tours" of the completed buildings.

President Joanne Creighton praised the College's legacy in art and science, and the continuing quality of its students, faculty, and resources. "Now we think it's time to make our facilities worthy of the people and the resources in them and worthy of Mount Holyoke College," she said, before the first shovelful of earth was turned.

Michael Davis, professor of art, said his involvement in the art museum project has changed the way he thinks about and teaches architecture. "The goal is not simply to put up new walls, but to bring the building into the twenty-first century and make it a facility that can support, in a vigorous and active way, the quality of the program that we are building." He congratulated all who have worked on the project, saying they had "never lost hope" and "rarely lost patience."
Marianne Doezema, art museum director, led a virtual tour of the new building, noting that the new space will create new opportunities for teaching and will allow the display of paintings "that have languished for too long in storage."
For Aaron Ellison, Fisher Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, the day was an opportunity to turn over his shepherd's crook, the symbol of his role in helping the science faculty develop plans that will best serve their individual disciplines and the College as a whole.

Ellison said he appreciated "seeing people working together in constructive and collegial ways to make sure this building works for everybody," a challenge that Rachel Fink, associate professor of biological sciences, summed up as "a Rubik's cube." He singled out the contributions of electricians, plumbers, ventilation technicians and other workers from facilities management, who "came up with solutions to make a better functioning building."

Donal O'Shea, dean of faculty, said the new Unified Science Center will continue MHC's tradition of producing women scientists. Creating a building where the various branches of science are encouraged to overlap, O'Shea said, comes at a time of radical change for all branches of science. The reconstructed and expanded building, he said, "will foster excellence, and it will foster serendipity, I'm absolutely certain of that."

Creighton announced that the new cience building, funded by an anonymous donor, will be called Kendade Hall. The science center, Creighton said, "will make a statement of excellence about the College. It will be a building worthy of Mount Holyoke College."


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