(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn, flanked by SIU administrators, lawmakers and developers turned dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony, ushering in the building phase of the new Science Building Complex on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus.
For more than a decade, SIUE has planned and offered annual presentations to the state legislature in support of a new facility, as well as revisions to the existing Science Building. Last year, the University was promised $78.9 million from the Illinois General Assembly, as part of the Illinois Jobs Now bill, which is a statewide package signed by the governor and projected to be worth about $31 billion.
The SIU system, which includes the Edwardsville, Alton, Carbondale and Springfield campuses, is set to receive a total of $168.1 million in capital funding from the state.
"SIUE has grown up and it continues to grow and thrive," said SIU President Glenn Poshard. "This project is the latest and greatest example of how far this institution has come and the potential for its future growth and success.
"These improvements, and the new building, are critical to alleviate overcrowding and replace antiquated lab equipment and materials."
Overcrowding in current labs, as well as antiquated equipment, have led to faculty teaching laboratory classes seven days per week, said SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift, adding: "Following a decade of significant growth and demonstrated need, today marks a turning point in the life of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. We are thrilled to break ground on the Science Building complex, a much-needed facility that will allow us to meet the academic demands of our current students.
"The lack of a new science building has been the single most important factor limiting future growth of SIUE. We can now properly address that. We are thankful for the support of the Governor, our local legislative delegation, the labor and business community, President Poshard and all those who have enabled this day."
Local labor leaders and legislatures turned out to participate in the ceremony, along with a large showing of support from SIUE faculty, staff and students.
According to SIUE Provost Paul Ferguson, "This timely construction of the SIUE Science Building will provide essential classrooms, laboratories, and equipment to support the contemporary research of our basic sciences faculty and students as well as to provide state-of-the-art learning environments for the many students in our rapidly growing science and health science programs."
"This facility will greatly further our commitment to increasing the number of health care professionals in response to significant manpower shortages and will enhance the national recognition of academic excellence at SIUE."
The new building and renovations will allow SIUE to more readily meet national needs, concerning projected shortages in the hundreds of thousands in health care fields by 2020. SIUE is home to the schools of Nursing and Pharmacy, and science programs through the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the SIU School of Dental Medicine in Alton.