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Updated 10:00 AM October 1, 2007




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Undergraduate Science Building serves as 'intellectual crossroads'

Calling it the "newest jewel in our life sciences efforts" President Mary Sue Coleman joined a group of deans, faculty members and students Sept. 26 to dedicate the Undergraduate Science Building in the Life Sciences Institute (LSI) complex.
On hand to dedicate the Undergraduate Science Building are (from left) Phil Hanlon, associate provost; Teresa Sullivan, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; President Mary Sue Coleman; and Terrence McDonald, dean of LSA. (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

Coleman praised the synergy between academic disciplines and teaching methods the new $61 million 140,000-square-foot building will offer to students.

"Our students can find not only beautiful labs, studios and study spaces, they also can experience encouragement, support, opportunities and the genuine excitement that comes with scientific discovery," Coleman told the gathering of about 100 people.

LSA Dean Terrence McDonald said the USB, connected to the medical campus by a footbridge, serves as a "geographical and intellectual crossroads for science on campus'' because of its proximity to the medical campus, School of Dentistry, LSI and the Chemistry Building.

"In every way units in this building are dedicated to undergraduate teaching and the improvement of undergraduate teaching," McDonald said. "The building emphasizes collaboration, high technology and shows our commitment to science. We want our students to understand science and become familiar with the scientific method."

The building offers classes in many disciplines including chemistry, biology, neuroscience, physics and communications studies. It is also home to the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program; Women in Science and Engineering; the Program in the Environment and the IDEA Institute, which will improve teaching methods in math and science.

The building has 30 classrooms and lab spaces, a 125-seat auditorium and two dinner theater classrooms with tiered seating that encourages interactive learning. Although classes were held in the building beginning last fall the dedication was delayed because all of the computer and laboratory equipment was not operating until last spring, according to Associate Provost Phil Hanlon.

Provost Teresa Sullivan said the gleaming new building offers open spaces that will promote informal discussions, as well as state of the art facilities such as the Science Learning Center with a satellite hook up to facilitate long distance collaborations.

"The Undergraduate Science Building is a strong statement of the idea that space matters," Sullivan said. "Having the right facilities and the right technology does make a difference in student learning. We know that Michigan undergraduates are more likely than students in most other institutions to integrate ideas from several courses when completing their assignments. The USB brings people from several disciplines together under the same roof."

After the ceremony professors Richard Hume, Pamela Raymond, Tim McKay and James Penner-Hahn conducted teaching demonstrations to showcase the building's high-tech classrooms.

Felicity Burke, a senior at Dexter High School, attended the ceremony with classmates and two teachers from the school. Burke is a member of the school's Women in Science and Technology Club.

"I want to go into neuroscience,'' said Burke, who completed an internship in anesthesiology at U-M last summer. "Coming here today brings the sciences down to my level. I can see it's possible for me to go into this."

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