The college will build a Center for the Study of Environmental Sciences by the fall of 2009, if all goes according to plan. The proposed building will house environmental science and marine science disciplines and free up lab space in Mercy Hall for a new chemistry lab and a new anatomy and physiology lab.
Construction could start in early fall on a proposed campus building that will house teaching labs, research labs and faculty offices for the environmental sciences. Plans call for a "green" design.
President Joe Lee calls the plan a crucial step in expanding academic facilities. "The new building will create critically needed research and teaching space and allow us to double the space for science labs that are used extensively by our nursing students," Dr. Lee says.
The additional space in the new center will touch every student's education, since a required course, Ecology and the Environmental Challenge, would for the first time be able to offer a lab experience that will integrate with field work on campus.
The Office of Institutional Advancement recently announced plans for a campaign to raise $3.7 million for the new building and the Mercy Hall lab expansions. Port City Architecture of Portland, Maine, will begin design/construction drawings while the fundraising campaign is under way.
The 6,100-square-foot environmental sciences center will sit alongside Stone Pond in a wooded area just behind St. Joseph's Hall. Plans call for the green building to be LEED-certified, a national benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. Construction is slated to begin by early fall for an opening in fall of 2009.
About 2,000 square feet in Mercy Hall will also be renovated and equipped under the proposed project. Though relatively minor renovations have been made to the Mercy Hall labs in the last 54 years since originally constructed, the number of faculty and lab sections has nearly doubled in the last eight years. The new space will eliminate crowding, update equipment to make possible coverage of new content, improve space for scholarly research, and allow faculty to leave experiments set up for classes and research projects.
According to Dr. Randall Krieg, vice president for academic affairs, "The new building will enable our faculty to do both teaching and research more effectively."
Environmental and marine science faculty have received roughly $1 million in research grants to investigate areas that have a significant impact on the health of fishing, shellfish harvesting and aquaculture. The grants have created opportunities for both student research assistants and for faculty work with community partners that has established a regional presence in environmental science for Saint Joseph's.