By Marianne Tucker Puhalla
With all exterior brickwork in place, Sordoni Construction crews have moved much of their effort inside as they diligently work to finish the new wing of the $45 million Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Science Center. Project teams expect to have the 57,400-square-foot addition, phase one of the two-phase project, finished early in the fall 2020 semester. Once all the equipment and furnishings are moved into the new wing, renovations to the 28,500-square-foot original portion of the Science Center will begin. The University plans to have the entire structure – the largest academic building on campus when completed – opened by fall 2021. “Some questioned if a campaign to support a project of this caliber was feasible for Misericordia,” admits Sue Helwig, vice president of University Advancement. “Yet, we far exceeded all fund raising expectations in just over three years. We have many to thank for this overwhelming demonstration of support. It certainly validates the importance of this project to Misericordia and to the northeast region.”
Now for Tomorrow: The Campaign for Misericordia University, formally launched in support of the Henry Science Center in 2016, has raised over $36 million – double any previous single fundraising project in Misericordia’s history, and more than $6 million beyond the original goal. The philanthropy has allowed the University to take a building built in 1957 for 800 students and transform it into a vibrant state-of-the-art facility offering a deliberate mix of classroom space, technology, and teaching and research laboratories to be utilized by an enrollment of more than 2,500 students.
Anthony Serino, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, continues his critical work as Project Shepherd – the liaison between the College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff and SLAM Collaborative, the architectural firm hired to design the center – to make sure the building serves the needs of the growing university. Among the highlights for the scientist are a mammal vivarium, aquatic/invertebrate vivarium, computer building lab and 10 new teaching labs in biology, chemistry and physics. In addition, a new cold room will enable advanced molecular experiments, and a cadaver suite – complete with an integrated control room, Anatomage room, and laboratory and preparatory space that will better serve all students, particularly those in the natural sciences and health sciences, which comprise about 54% of the student body.
“Seeing it come to fruition is beyond amazing,” Dr. Serino explains. “I am proud of how the Henry Science Center’s design provides flexible teaching spaces that encourage interactive learning, offers dedicated research space for faculty and students, and allows the campus and outside community to witness science in action. It was a dream that was under discussion long before I joined the faculty in 2002. Seeing the sun reflect off the front wall of windows is a truly exhilarating light at the end of a long tunnel.”
When the project is complete, the Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Science Center will increase classroom and laboratory space for the sciences by more than 200%.
“My parents were all about service – service to their community, service to others,” stated Marjorie Henry Marquart ‘85, a member of the Board of Trustees and daughter of Frank and Dorothea Henry, during the beam signing ceremony for the building in September 2019. “Service embodies what my parents were all about and it is why it (this building) is here, and why he made the gift. He believed in giving to others. And that is what this new science building is going to do – it is going to help so many students, so many staff, the community and everyone. The recognition is not about my parents, it’s all about the people who will use the building and will get benefit from the building. His name is on it with my mother’s – but it is a building for everyone.”
For an up-to-the-minute look at the Henry Center’s progress, a live stream video of the ongoing construction is available by clicking here.