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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

The future is here today

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

The Buena Vista University Science Center plan has been a long time coming.

My time here has basically paralleled the biggest building boom in the history of the school, but still, something has been missing.

I saw ground broken for the incredible underground Forum, with its classy auditorium, ballroom, bookstore, offices, museum to its donor and all the rest of its wonders.

Sat in for the emergence of the technology and information center, an ultra-wired showplace that transcends the term "library" entirely.

I've watched the red Georgian "suite" residence halls rise one at a time, replacing blocks of cottage homes. These are so impressive that the term "dorm" doesn't seem to do justice anymore.

Seen the muddy beginnings of the new sports field complex out by the Field of Dreams, and that should complement the athletics programs on campus.

Looked on as the former Ballou Library was transformed into the impressive offices of the President and other elements of the BVU nerve-center.

Watched the new look develop for Dixon-Eilers, where many of the campus offices and services are located.

Enjoyed the addition of the icon Victory Arch years ago, and massive pieces of modern art just recently that give the U a very upscale feel.

Even peered on as the place became the first "wireless" campus, with notebook computers replacing the notebook... um... notebooks.

And I marveled day-by-day at the development of the new recreation center, full of new possibilities for athletics, fitness and wellness. It is truly amazing and yet another crown jewel for BVU and Storm Lake.

It's hard now to picture the campus before all of the millions and millions of dollars of developments I've watched show up on - and under - the Storm Lake skyline.

So what could possibly be missing in this energetic burst of expansion?

Classrooms.

That's not entirely true, of course. There are some classrooms in the Forum's spacious sprawl, and some well touched by the renovation in Dixon-Eilers, and some learning program space even built into the recreation center. Education certainly hasn't been ignored in any of these projects.

But the Science Center is a different beast entirely.

It is a completely education-function project, built around innovative classrooms.

It's a lovely design, but drawn around educational needs, not to impress in and of itself. It's not about fine amenities, or public relations, or entertainment, or sports.

It is about the classrooms, and that's what some people have been waiting to see to complete the modern burst of brick and mortar that has brought BVU from a modest, small city private college to one of the nation's most celebrated and advanced universities of its size.

To me, this Science Center will put the right kind of exclamation point on the storied growth of BVU.

The university and its supporters have long since shown their dedication to superior facilities, top sports and fitness programs, administration and housing, technological marvels and architectural wonders.

Soon, BVU will also be the envy of the higher education world with a science building designed in large part by its science educators.

It will provide the space, style and motivation for young people who are so sorely needed today as the scientists, environmentalists and science educators of tomorrow.

It will bring the disciplines of biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics under one incredible roof, and showcase the natural wonders for the university and the community as well.

Amid all of the stylish buildings, the wired technology, the success in enrollment and finances, the construction of this building will be a visible reminder to us of what the ideals of Buena Vista really are.

They start and end in the classroom.

This building adds seven of the traditional variety, plus three in the shape of research areas, 18 as laboratories, one as a greenhouse, and a "Science Avenue" designed to excite the imagination to the endless opportunities of learning.

After all I've seen - from dangling off Schaller Chapel to photograph the beginnings of the Forum, to being perhaps the first to lope the springy rec center track even as it was being built, this is the project that charges me the most.

Who knows what breakthroughs will be found one day by the young minds in those new classrooms.

I can't wait for the future. Seems it's arriving today, BVU.