LORETTO - Phase two of St. Francis University's science investment capital campaign is complete, with board of trustees members and university leaders dedicating the school's 70,000-square foot flagship Science Center building Friday.
Dozens of students, faculty and local civic and political leaders turned out for the dedication and ribbon cutting just outside the building under a hot afternoon sun.
Provost Wayne Powel began his speech by discussing a recent trip to Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, where he observed students in rapt attention during a physiology lecture. But they weren't talking bones, muscles or capillaries.
The professor was talking about the students' futures in research and medicine, Powel said, and he could see how some of them might one day stand at that podium, themselves professors addressing the next generation of doctors.
"There is nothing more important in this world today than that exercise. It is critical," he said.
Alumni Association President Christopher Collins said the building and all its features, including the best classrooms, laboratories and research facilities, shows St. Francis is giving its students the best.
Justin Skipper, a junior majoring in marine biology from Altoona, wears scuba gear while posing for photos inside a 1,500 gallon salt water tank in St. Francis University’s new Science Center on Friday.
"This building stands as a symbol of hope," he said.
University President Father Gabriel Zeis commended the board of trustees for seeing years in advance the changes coming to higher education and acting to keep St. Francis competitive in the competitive science-technology-engineering-mathematics field.
Many students chose the university because of the science center, he said, and thanked taxpayers for their investment to make sure students are prepared.
Psychology professor Edward Zovinka, faculty liaison for the science center, said when he was in college, he presented at a first annual research conference, and it was a milestone for him. Now, it's expected of all undergraduates.
"We work them very hard in the sciences," he said, and it's not unusual to see students working all hours and on weekends.
With this facility, they finally have a welcoming place where they can put in the time St. Francis requires of them.
The final phase is renovating Sullivan Hall to serve health sciences majors, which can now begin.