NJ Secretary of Higher Education recommends to the state legislature that $6.8 million be directed to capital projects at Drew.

Planned renovation to and expansion of the Hall of Sciences will benefit undergraduate and faculty research.
Planned renovation to and expansion of the Hall of Sciences will benefit undergraduate and faculty research.

Drew’s plan to renovate and expand its Hall of Sciences took a step closer toward reality yesterday when Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks included $6.8 million for the project in a higher education facilities funding plan that was submitted to the state legislature for approval. The money would allow the university to complete the first phase of the project, which includes construction of a new research annex, renovation of the psychology wing, new laboratory space and improved network infrastructure.

“The sciences have always been one of Drew’s great strengths,” said President Vivian A. Bull. “This project represents a much-needed investment in undergraduate and faculty research, particularly in areas that are in high demand by students. I hope the legislature acts quickly so that we can get right to work.”

The key pieces of this phase of the project include:

  • Research Annex: Construction of a 4,600-square-foot research annex behind the existing building that would benefit the psychology, biology and neuroscience programs. The university has already received final site plan approval from the Borough of Madison for this addition, which means construction could begin as early as the fall if the legislature acts quickly on the funding proposal.
  • Psychology Wing: Renovation of the psychology wing in the Hall of Sciences will provide improved teaching and research spaces for one of the university’s always popular fields of study.
  • Environmental Science Labs: Two biology labs on the first floor of the Hall of Sciences will be renovated and converted into teaching laboratories that will support research and research-based instruction in environmental science, ecology and microbiology—fields of study in which faculty expertise and student interest are significant.
  • Chemistry Lab: A new research laboratory will be constructed on the third floor of the Hall of Sciences to serve faculty, students and RISE Fellows working in the field of chemistry.
  • Network Infrastructure: Improvements will be made to the network infrastructure in the Hall of Sciences, upgrading to gigabit connectivity and adding wireless access throughout the building. The transport of network data between the Hall of Sciences and the central data center in Brothers College will also be upgraded. Given the central role that advanced technologies plays in the teaching and learning of science, this project promises to benefit faculty and students working in all of Drew’s STEM fields: biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, neuroscience, psychology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science.
  • Equipment: The purchase of equipment and instrumentation to be used within the research annex, renovated psychology wing, chemistry laboratory and environmental science teaching laboratories, as well as other instrumentation needed to enhance instruction and learning in its STEM fields, is included in this phase of the project.

Dr. Bull thanked her predecessor, former Drew President Thomas H. Kean, for this crucial state support.

“In 2010 Governor Kean chaired Governor Christie’s Task Force on Higher Education,” Bull said. “He recognized the great need for the state to invest in its colleges and universities and help them build the kind of academic facilities essential to a 21st-century education.”

That recommendation was included in the task force’s final report and led to a state higher education facilities bond referendum, which New Jersey voters approved last fall. It, along with other dedicated state funding programs, will provide $6,811,109 of the project’s $7,690,986 price tag. Drew will provide $879,877 from funds donated to the project by alumni and other donors.

The university has plans for a second phase, which will involve the construction of new interdisciplinary teaching and research laboratories along the south side of the Hall of Sciences. Fund-raising for this is underway.

The Hall of Sciences is home to the university’s biology, chemistry, mathematics/computer science and physics departments, as well as the Charles A. Dana Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE) and the New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences.