Julie Estabrooks said Columbia College’s science labs are less than adequate and are the greatest limitation to the school’s science program — so she is excited by the school’s plan to build a science building.
“It will have a tremendous impact because our students will have new labs that can provide them with a state-of-the-art learning experience,” said Estabrooks, Columbia College’s science department chairwoman. “They’ll have the opportunity to work with the type of equipment and in the type of environment they’re likely to encounter in grad school or in the job environment.”
Gerald Brouder, president of Columbia College, said the current science labs and equipment are outdated. “We absolutely need a new science facility,” he said.
Brouder said the addition of several bachelor’s degrees in scientific fields and a new nursing program has caused space problems. The school is not able to accommodate all of the students who need to take particular science courses at certain times in their programs.
Construction of the building is three or four years away, after a fundraising campaign aimed at private donors, foundations and the federal government, Brouder said.
The building’s design is still in the conceptual stage, but he said it will contain laboratories and possibly a moderately sized classroom.
Brouder said the improved science building will attract educators as well.
“They know they will come teach in the most modern of facilities,” he said.
The building will be built partly on the land now used for the softball field off Range Line Street. The field will be relocated to the northwest corner of campus.
A renovation of Missouri Hall is also planned to make the building a one-stop student service center. The building now houses the admissions, registration, transcripts and evaluation offices and tutoring centers. The renovation will cost between $4 million and
“It’s just not functional the way it’s divided up,” Brouder said.
The functions and duties of admissions, registration and financial aid will be combined, and the staff will be proficient in all these areas so that students can pose their questions to one person instead of going from office to office.
“It will all be done in one central location,” Brouder said.
Part of the second floor and the entire third floor of Missouri Hall, completed in 1920, are unoccupied because they haven’t been kept up — what Brouder called “deferred maintenance.”
The renovation will begin in January and be completed in a year.
Brouder said a new residence hall may also be built if the number of students interested in living on campus continues to grow. He said that project is “in the what-if stage of discussion” and data from two more years will be needed to decide whether a new residence hall is needed.