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A Proposal to Support Renovation of the Guion Sciences Building At Sweet Briar College Sweet Briar’s mathematical sciences, life sciences, engineering, chemistry and environmental sciences help students interpret the world: Scientists perform research with a view toward better understanding our world and making positive impacts. The Problem The Connie Guion Sciences Building, built in 1964, was named for arguably one of the most influential faculty members who taught chemistry and physics at Sweet Briar before attending Cornell and becoming a prominent New York physician. The Guion Sciences Building is in poor condition and needs complete renovation. We would like to ask for your support in the amount of $150,000 to address the initial design and planning for the project.

The Connie Guion Sciences building was built in 1964 and no longer meets the needs of a twenty-first century college of Sweet Briar’s caliber.

-The building, which is approximately 40,000 square feet, was built in a time when the sciences were taught in a lecture style to a student audience. Today, students and their professors work much more collaboratively and hands-on in the classroom. Students work 1

together on projects in groups or pairs, and the professor is more likely to be sitting with the students, demonstrating theories instead of lecturing. As well, topics are now deliberately interdisciplinary, and classrooms need to be flexible to allow for classes to come together in STEM topics.

Science labs are crowded and inflexible with no space to work.

When Guion was built, there were not this many faculty members or students; now the building is bursting at the seams, trying to contain laboratories, technicians, faculty offices, student work and study spaces, and new equipment. This building is not adequate for the College’s needs. The roof leaks, and technology is not up to twenty-first century standards. Most of the classrooms, laboratories and offices have not been renovated in nearly sixty years. Labs are now too small, and, technologically, the lecture theater is antiquated, far from being a digitally sophisticated twenty-first century classroom, which is so desperately needed. Faculty have been preparing for these needed changes and “doing their homework” to ensure that the building, when renovated, will be useful for decades. Several faculty attended PKAL (Project Kaleidoscope) workshops several years ago; we hope most of the faculty will attend one of these workshops before plans are solidified. The PKAL workshops help faculty to explore physical spaces that accommodate constructive pedagogies,


interdisciplinary connections, and how to create learning and research communities in ways that inform spatial planning. It is not intended that the square footage of the building will change; the space will be sensibly renovated to be flexible, less formal, more collaborative and digitally sophisticated. The building must be made more energy efficient in keeping with our commitment to the College & University Presidents Climate Commitment to become carbon-neutral by 2030. However, preliminary consultations are needed to determine if additional Faculty offices are small and offer insufficient space to work with students.

square footage is needed. These consultants would be architects experienced with science facility planning and design.

Helping the faculty to imagine these new spaces involves bringing in consultants to talk to them and work with them to understand their needs thoroughly. Faculty will need to go on “field trips” to visit modern science buildings that are appropriate for our vision. It helps everyone to develop a similar vocabulary and reference points when discussing their needs with consultants and their colleagues. Our Science Departments Physics and Engineering is partially funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and by Margaret “Peggy” Jones Wyllie ’45, who supports the Engineering Studies Program. This is only the second ABET-accredited engineering program in the country at a women’s college.


The entrance is austere and inhospitable.

The Department of Biology is small, but spans research from molecules through cells, organ systems, organisms and ecosystems. Plant biology, zoology and biotechnology are covered. Following is a chart of the students who attend any science class. BIOC BIOL CHEM ENGR ENMG ENSC ENVR MAEC MATH PHYS PSYC Total

4 49 9 24 1 12 3 4 12 2 31 151

In December 2012, the 154 members of the Class of 2012 were surveyed regarding their activities six months after graduation. 121 alumnae responded to our requests for outcomes information. Of those 121 respondents, 34% reported that they were pursuing further education. 37 respondents (out of the 41 who indicated that they were pursuing further education more generally) indicated that they were pursuing degrees within masters, doctoral, or first-professional programs. Of those 37, 19% reported that they were pursuing masters, doctoral, or first professional programs in STEM fields. For the Class of 2012,


those reported fields were: Systems Engineering, Nursing, Mathematics, Marine Biology, and Veterinary. Mathematical Sciences is proud of its exceptional graduation rates: in the past five to ten years, ten percent of Sweet Briar’s students have graduated with a major in the mathematical sciences, about triple the national average. In Psychology, students are actively engaged in both laboratory research and community outreach projects, and those majors continue to score high on national texts for undergraduate majors in Psychology. Exceptional Programming The sciences programs at Sweet Briar are exceptional and deserve exceptional support. The Sciences are the biggest draw for students to Sweet Briar. When potential students visit the campus to determine if they will attend Sweet Briar or another college, they need to be impressed by a modern sciences facility that complements and mirrors the outstanding faculty they meet. Support of the students, faculty and staff who work and research in this aging building is imperative to ensuring Sweet Briar’s continued prominence among small liberal arts colleges in the current century. We value the sciences because they are one of the best methods for acquiring accurate information about the world around us. Studying science teaches how to study and learn through scientific method, experimentation, and research. It helps to eliminate naivetÊ about incorrect information, which the Internet has filled the world. Three units of science are required (two must be labs) and four are recommended (three must be labs). 17.2% of our students study in one or more of the sciences. Halls are drab and uninspiring. Collaborative work spaces are needed.


We need a thorough investigation of our design and renovation opportunities so that we make the best use in revitalizing this space. These renovations must carry us through the upcoming decades with as much flexibility and potential for new technology as is possible. For this reason, we would ask for your generous support in the amount of $150,000 to produce a workable design. The Impact of Your Gift Your gift would acknowledge and reward the work of our scientists who keep Sweet Briar’s name at the forefront of excellence through their new initiatives in programming, curriculum, and research. They deserve to have modern laboratories and classrooms so that they can teach future generations of scientists whose work in turn will reflect so well on Sweet Briar. Students – majors and non-majors – benefit from a modern sciences building that supports their interests in research and other educational opportunities beyond the classroom. Faculty dedication and student opportunities have always been the core of Sweet Briar’s success. This gift will reward and reinvigorate the very lifeblood of our institution. Your gift affects multiple lives, and thus the very life of Sweet Briar College. We hope that your vision and our vision for the Sciences are similar and that you will provide this muchneeded support.

"The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living." — Henri Poincaré