UM science gets donation hike

Published 6:00 am Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Gertrude C. Ford Foundation announced Friday its $20 million donation for the University of Mississippi’s new science building has increased to $25 million.

“Today, it is our great privilege and pleasure to announce the Ford Foundation has increased their commitment from $20 million to $25 million,” said Acting Chancellor Morris Stocks on the steps of the Lyceum.

The donation will be used not only to build the new science building, but also for a new walkway that will pick up where the Walk of Champions left off. Additionally, it will lead to an area the university is dedicating to William Faulkner.

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The new science building will be built on All American Drive, an area that is referred to as Science Row. Construction on the new science building and Ford Way will start in spring 2016.

“This support will be used to help build a 200,000-square-foot science facility that will increase the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematic students we educate,” said Noel E. Wilkin, acting provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Additionally, it will transform how we teach science.”

Wilkin also said the design and programming of space in the building was carefully planned over months with input from faculty with “an eye to the future of teaching and learning” in mind.

“The science building will contain our teaching and laboratory spaces that will facilitate our ability for preparing the next generation of STEM graduates as they learn in collaborative and multidisciplinary spaces,” he said. “The expansion of this gift will also enable us to build Gertrude C. Ford Way. This pathway will serve as the main artery into the science district of our campus and will lead to the science building.”

The pathway will lead to an area dedicated to William Faulkner and his work. The area will be located directly across from the new science building and is presumably where Faulkner wrote “As I Lay Dying.”

“This gift enables us to design and build an area to appropriately acknowledge, honor and celebrate Mr. Faulkner’s work and his connection to our community, our university and our mission,” Wilkin said.

Tina Hahn, director of communications for the University of Mississippi Foundation and University Development, said the new building is needed to accommodate the increasing student body growth at the university.

“Years of planning have gone into this building, which is so desperately needed with our soaring enrollment,” she said

She added the Ford Foundation is in tune with the university’s needs for academic success.

“As evidenced by their gift for the stunning Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, the Ford Foundation board members are driven by a desire to see educational opportunities increased and the state of Mississippi strengthened.

“It will be exciting to get started on this building and — long term — see how our preparation of STEM graduates makes a difference in our world,” Hahn said.

The university is currently seeking other private, state and federal funds as well as internally generated funds to supplement remaining costs for the project, and project leaders hope to see the new science building completed by the fall 2018.

“We are deeply grateful for their enduring dedication to increasing educational opportunities and bolstering the University of Mississippi,” Stocks said.