Coppin State University moved forward June 4 with their plan to offer students more in-depth studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Community members and elected officials gathered to break ground on a 150,332-square-foot facility that will operate as the Science and Technology Center (STC) for the university in less than two years.
“Today is a momentous occasion for Coppin State University,” said interim President Dr. Mortimer H. Neufville. “This signals the transformation of Coppin on many levels.”
“This new facility represents the institution’s commitment to pursuing an innovative, high-performance, scientific and environmentally sustainable facility with the latest technology to support teaching, learning, and research activities at Coppin State University.”
Neufville has been at the helm of the university since Dr. Reginald Avery stepped down from the office of the president Jan. 22.
Standing adjacent to the site, which had been cleared and appeared to be shovel-ready, Neufville said the new edifice will further “transform the landscape of Coppin as well as the West North Avenue corridor, while contributing to the economic developments and quality of life of West Baltimore.”
The STC will cost $80 million dollars. It is to be designed by architects and engineers from Cannon Design and is to meet U.S. Green Building Council environmental sustainability and energy efficiency requirements for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification, second highest rating for a building’s environmental and energy soundness.
According to Phil Dordai, a Cannon Design Principal, the building is one that leaves room to accommodate future changes while meeting the needs of students with research labs, a full information technology department, a greenhouse, and an animal vivarium. The facility will be home base for all students pursuing majors in computer science, natural science, and math.
“This building is about collaboration, future flexibility and return on investment, and expanding this place and making it a beautiful campus.”
Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake applauded the groundbreaking and said it is more than just a place to house classrooms.
“Yes, it’s about education, but it’s also about economic development- it’s about jobs and making sure that this community is taken care of,” she said. Afterwards, audience members heard remarks from the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland William E. Kirwan, and state Sen. Catherine Pugh (D-Baltimore).
“This project is one of the city’s largest state-funded projects currently under way and I think it’s fitting that in this historic community the state saw fit to invest this to enliven this community and show them what can happen when the state and the city work together in partnership,” the mayor said.
The building is expected to bring jobs to Baltimore through its demand for construction workers and related positions. Scholarship funds were also included in the project budget.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown hailed the building initiative. “Maryland ranks number two when it comes to science and technology, and we rank number one when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, ” he said.
“In Maryland we do not build bridges to nowhere. And we do not build buildings for nothing,” he said. “I pledge that Coppin State University will have all of the resources it needs to open, operate, maintain and deliver the best educational programs.”
By the spring semester of 2015, students at Coppin will be able to utilize the four-story building to study curriculums in a range of disciplines from biology and chemistry to dentistry and nanotechnology.