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Dedicated to science

Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 12:07 pm

By NATALIE MILLER

H-P Reporter

The next generation of young doctors and inventors could emerge from Randolph-Macon College’s new science facility. The 30,000-square foot Macon F. Brock, Jr. Hall was officially dedicated Friday, June 23.

Macon F. Brock, Jr. Hall connects to the college’s Copley Science Center, and will house the Departments of Biology, Environmental Studies/Geology, and Chemistry.

R-MC’s 1964 alum Macon F. Brock, Jr. cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony Friday, unveiling the culmination of his and other alumni’s generous donations.

“[Brock’s] leadership and example, compelled us to meet our goal, not once, but twice, raising over $125 million in the process,” R-MC president Robert Lindgren said during the ceremony.

Brock’s name is visible throughout R-MC’s campus, as he and his wife Joan donated millions of dollars to projects like the Brock Commons and the Brock Sports and Recreation Center. After graduating from R-MC Brock found great success as the co-founder of the household name store, Dollar Tree.

With a book and several awards under his belt, Brock continues to support his alma mater through donations to building projects and attending some of the college’s events.

R-MC kicked off its $125 million Building Extraordinary campaign to construct and renovate buildings on campus six years ago. Brock has served as chair of the Building Extraordinary campaign….

“We have completed seven new buildings and renovated four others [through the Building Extraordinary campaign], created 92 new scholarships and provided additional funding for 160 more, and created five new professorships with additional funding for two others,” Lindgren said.

“Over 400 donors, our largest number of supporters for any capital project in our history, made this building possible, and include, meaningfully, a significant number of faculty, retired faculty, staff and students,” Lindgren continued.

The new science building in the college’s largest construction project to date, and includes research laboratories, faculty offices and conference rooms. Macon F. Brock Jr. Hall was built using energy and water-saving technologies, and is expected to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Solar panels will be added to the new science building to power several of the campus’ buildings.

Construction for the new Keeble Observatory will be complete before July.  The observatory will be handicap accessible, and will connect from the second floor or the Copley Science Center.

Though Dr. George Spagna will not be teaching his physics classes in Brock Hall, he will continue being the Director of the Keeble Observatory.

The observatory will be equipped with a Ritchey-Chretien telescope, which has a wider field and faster photographic speed than many other telescopes.  The telescope also has hyperbolic mirrors, which improves the user experience.

“You get better precision in viewing,” Spagna said.

The telescope will be computer-driven to find specific locations based on coordinates, rather than having users “star hop” to find a particular location.

According to Spagna, the lead donors for the new observatory did not want to have the structure named after them.

“It’s nice to keep a building on the campus that’s named after a member of the faculty,” Spagna said. “It’s truly generous of the donor.”

Rising R-MC junior PJ Patel chose to attend the college then pursue a medical degree.

“For students like me, the addition of new teaching labs means more learning through doing,” Patel said. “Teaching labs are where knowledge is tested, understanding is enhanced, and curiosity aroused.”

Patel received a summer stipend through the Jan M. Carter, MD ’78 Medical Internship Program, and was awarded the Dr. & Mrs. Marshall & Alice McCabe Pre-Med Endowed Scholarship.

“Undergraduate research is a hallmark of the R-MC experience,” Patel continued. “The addition of new research labs will enable professors and students to come together, not only to learn science, but to be part of its future.”

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. William Franz shared the passion for science he has experienced as a physics professor.

“The elegance of science stands alongside the elegance of a beautifully constructed proof of a mathematical theorem, the elegance of a poem or sculpture, or a well-crafted historical narrative.  And it will happen within this elegant space, “Franz said during his comments at the ceremony.

“The wonder of science, the elegance of science, the mystery of science—this is what we have to look forward to in our new Brock Hall,” Franz said.