The Colgate Scene
January 2008

A message from Lyle Roelofs, provost and dean of the faculty
Built to last
Lyle Roelofs, provost and dean of the faculty, stands by the grand staircase of the new Robert H.N. Ho Science Center. The organism etched onto the glass panel at right is one of many that grace the staircase, created through the generosity of Ramon Garcia '77 by local artist Denise Leone from images chosen by the scientists of the building. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Great academic institutions derive their strength from their people — faculty, students, administrative, and support staff — dedicated to a common enterprise of sharing and pursuing knowledge. In opening the Robert H.N. Ho Science Center and the Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology, Colgate has created outstanding new spaces for our people to connect, collaborate, and create, now and in the future.

My daily walk through the quad reminds me just how much planning, thought, and care go into each new Colgate building. The hand-laid stone of West, the cupola of Lathrop, the stone carvings on McGregory, and the unique style of Hascall are individually magnificent and collectively breathtaking. The strength and timelessness of these buildings are a reminder that a Colgate education is full of tradition and that all of us — students, faculty, administrators — stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.

All 270,000 square feet of the Ho Science Center and Case-Geyer were meticulously planned with much involvement of the faculty and staff who would occupy them, our best experts on the learning and research that they will support. These are best-in-class buildings, from scientific technologies that are not yet available on any other college campus, to flexible study spaces that are redefining the model of student interaction in a library.

Case-Geyer graces the front door of the campus, registering the centrality of the materials it houses to what faculty and students are here to do. It does a provost's heart good to see nearly every carrel, seat, and study space in heavy use during almost all hours, and this despite the very significant expansion that was undertaken.

The Ho Science Center frames the eastern end of the academic quad, juxtaposed well between Wynn and Olin Halls, housing the other experimental science departments. It was designed to intermix departments in a purposeful way so that their distinctive approaches to studying the natural world could synergistically relate. Astronomers and geologists are now rubbing shoulders with geographers, physicists, and environmental scientists and interacting closely with their students.

I am fortunate to have a unique perspective on the campus from my office and research lab on the fourth floor of the Ho Science Center, near the central stair, where the computers will be humming as students simulate the rearrangements of atoms in nanoscale structures. We're on the top floor, nearest to the heavens you might say, with the astronomers, and to the sky which preoccupies meteorologist and geographer Adam Burnett with his rooftop weather station. My fellow theoretical physicist, Patrick Crotty, and I are delighted to share this space and its fine view of the Quad with them and with the amazing visualization lab. Walking up the grand staircase to my office, I pass the elegant etched glass panels that depict the range of the scientific research and learning encompassed in the building. The 24 images are of objects of scientific study ranging in size from the most minute to the largest imaginable, and yes, there is one of nanoscale proportion.

My unique view of the campus gives me a sense of how Colgate buildings, like a Colgate education, are built to last while they prepare our students for tomorrow. Those who have gone before us set the foundation, and it is our obligation to build upon their work. We have done exactly this with the new library and science center.

There is a great sense of pride and excitement on campus right now, as our students and faculty put each classroom, lab, reading room, and space for interactions to the Colgate test. I am thankful to all those, from the planning committees, faculty, students, and staff, to the generous donors such as Robert H.N. Ho '56, Harvey Picker '36, and Helen Geyer, who have invested deeply so that we could extend our aspirations and build for future generations. They are an inspiration today, and they have raised the bar for all who will follow.

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