Digging in on the Life Sciences Facility

Andrew Sheeler / Sun Star Reporter
April 5, 2010

Chancellor Brian Rogers takes part in the ceremonial groundbreaking. March 31, 2011. Heather Bryant/Sun Star

On Wednesday, March 30, Chancellor Brian Rogers and six other dignitaries used golden shovels to dig a hole 12 years in the making. It was the much-anticipated groundbreaking for the Life Sciences Facility. When the building finishes construction, estimated to be in 2014, it will house both students and researchers in a variety of sciences, including the studies of wildlife biology, environmental health and infectious diseases.

The groundbreaking was the culmination of more than a decade of political wrangling and advocacy. In 2010, the decision to fund the facility was put up to the voters and passed.

“We’re more than ready to get started,” Rogers said.

Rogers opened the event, mentioning all the dignitaries in attendance. Among the VIP’s were: Clark “Click” Bishop, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor; Regents Tim Brady and Jo Heckman; former legislators Mike Kelly and Jay Ramras; UAA Chancellor Tom Case and Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins.

Also in attendance was Rich Boone, professor of biology and wildlife at UAF. Boone said that if the university doesn’t have great facilities, it won’t be able to attract great teachers and students.

“Facilities do make a difference,” Boone said.

After Rogers made his introductions, a series of speakers took the podium. Commissioner Bishop was first to speak. He was optimistic about the research that will be done in the new facility.

“I know we’re going to have some discoveries here that change the world for the better,” Bishop said.

The university tore down the West Ridge Greenhouse, administered by the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, to make room for the future building. Many plants from the greenhouse were adopted out to the public.

The final speaker was Paul Layer, Dean of the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, who urged everybody to come back in 2014 to “cut the ribbon and put the shovels away.”

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