Faculty Shepherd for the Science Center
January 23, 2009

Professor of Chemistry Maria Curtin
Prof. Maria Curtin

It started as a seed of an idea. Since the first shovel struck earth on Sept. 27, 2007, Professor of Chemistry Maria Curtin has watched with pride the College's $34 million, 89,000 square-foot Science Center blossom.

This fall, the Science Center will open its doors to over 552 science and psychology majors, over 29 full-time faculty members plus adjunct faculty, lab instructors and support staff.

"Whenever I show people the building, it makes me realize this is going to put Stonehill on a higher plane. This marks a new age for the College," said Curtin who has taught at the College since 1993. Prior to working at Stonehill, Curtin worked as a research chemist for a decade.

"When I think about moving in, I just can't believe it," she said. "So many hours of effort have been poured into this project, I couldn't even begin to count them."

Curtin is the project's Faculty Shepherd -a liaison between the architects, administration and in her own words, "the voice of the science faculty."

With the new Center, Stonehill will be able to house all the science faculty, most science lectures and all labs in one building for the first time in College history. It will also be able to offer a full-fledged Physics major for the first time.

"I've been here 15 years, and we didn't think we'd ever have a new building," Curtin said. "The faculty and the students cannot wait to move."

The Science Center had been a seedling of an idea since President Mark Cregan, C.S.C. '78 first came to the College in 2001.

Feasibility studies were done over the years; the decision to build the New Science Center was made in 2005 and in 2006, Dr. Katie Conboy, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, asked Curtin if she'd be interested in acting as the Faculty Shepherd.

"I thought it would be really exciting to be involved in the execution of the building project that we'd wanted for so long," Curtin said.

As Faculty Shepherd, "I was the go-between for the faculty and the architects, discussing what everyone was thinking and visualizing, knowing the compromises we had to make," she said.

Curtin sat on the Building Committee "to make sure if they cut anything, it was nothing that would hurt the science program," she said.

"We had a tight budget, but I think we're going to get pretty much the building we need. Given the economic times we're in, that we were able to finish the building is amazing," she said. "The architectural firm, S/L/A/M Collaborative and the construction manager, Bond Brothers, have done a great job. We will have a beautiful and well-designed building."

"I know so many other institutions that have put construction on hold because of the economic times. We're lucky."

The center will consist of a large atrium- a common social gathering area for students with a Dunkin' Donuts- in between two academic wings.

The wings will house the biology, chemistry, physics and psychology departments, along with the biochemistry, neuroscience and environmental studies programs.

"We'll have bigger, brighter classrooms and labs and greater research space for faculty and students. The classrooms and labs will be technology-integrated. We'll have wireless internet through out the building."

The atrium will be used occasionally for special events and will have the capacity to seat 350 people for dinner or 500 for a lecture."Aside from that, it's all open, all glass, overlooking the big pond. It's available for anyone to come in and have a cup of coffee and do work during the day. It's a social space. We hope everyone on campus will come to the building."

This fall, Curtin will enjoy the fruits of her labors when she teaches General Chemistry courses in the new integrated lecture lab.

How will she feel?

"Oh, I can't imagine," Curtin sighed. "It's unreal. We, the faculty, just never thought this would happen. Since 2007, it's been all-consuming and we can't wait to move this spring."

"I am looking forward to teaching in a more conducive environment toward science, where the labs and classrooms have been designed to allow for innovative ways of learning," said Curtin.

For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.

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