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WC 'Writing a New Chapter' with Ambitious Building Project

College Breaks Ground for Science & Agriculture Center

January 29, 2014

Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony are, from the left, Robert Touchton, chair of the Board of Trustees; Robert Chason, campaign co-chair; Bill Kincaid, professor of mathematics; Sarah Sinclair, senior biology major; Tony Logan, USDA; President Jim Reynolds; Sandy Neville, Board vice chair; Mike DiNardo, architect/principal with The Collaborative; Erika Goodwin, vice president for academic affairs; Ashley Kelly, USDA; and Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley.

Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony are, from the left, Robert Touchton, chair of the Board of Trustees; Robert Chason, campaign co-chair; Bill Kincaid, professor of mathematics; Sarah Sinclair, senior biology major; Tony Logan, USDA; President Jim Reynolds; Sandy Neville, Board vice chair; Mike DiNardo, architect/principal with The Collaborative; Erika Goodwin, vice president for academic affairs; Ashley Kelly, USDA; and Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley.

Friday afternoon’s (Jan. 24) groundbreaking ceremony for the Center for the Sciences and Agriculture represents a milestone in the nearly 144-year history of Wilmington College.

Construction will begin in the coming weeks on a 13,500-square foot addition to the 34,000 square-foot Kettering Hall. Also, the more than half-century-old Kettering Hall will undergo a comprehensive renovation. Expected completion of the $13 million project is summer 2015.

President Jim Reynolds described it as “a real special time” for the College.

“This has been a long time coming,” he said about the building project. “I really believe in this place and I believe that together we can do remarkable things. Today, I am asking you to believe. This place is worth your belief.

“We’re going forward as an institution and I want you all to be part of it.”

A 40-minute program in Heiland Theatre culminated with Reynolds offering the 300-plus members of the audience a choice: join him in traversing the campus through a sub-zero wind chill to watch the actual shoveling of dirt at the soon-to-be building site or view a live video feed of the proceedings in the comfort and warmth of the auditorium.

Surprisingly (or not) 90 percent of the crowd lined the sidewalks and stood in the snow to watch 11 selected stakeholders throw dirt. Then, scores of the crowd grabbed the shovels and hard hats for their own photo op and piece of this historic day.

With the day’s harsh weather forecast in mind, the dirt used in the ceremony was stored indoors all week.

(LEFT) The new wing as viewed from the campus mall.

Robert Touchton, a 1965 alumnus, adjunct faculty member and chair of the Board of Trustees, said, “We’re ready to write a new chapter” in the history of Wilmington College.

“We have something special to offer at Wilmington — I hear it from alumni and I hear it from my students,” he said. “My own life was transformed by my experience here.”

The new facility is designed to transform the teaching of math, science and agriculture at Wilmington College.

Fellow trustee Robert Chason, Class of ’65, has co-chaired the Center’s fundraising steering committee that helped secure some $6 million raised from 260 donors toward the project in the past several years.

(RIGHT) This view from the north features the new wind on the left and the renovated building on the right.

“This is an opportunity for me to give something back to the College that has done so much for me,” he said, noting that trustees have contributed $1.5 million. “Because of the generosity of so many through the years, Wilmington College is a wonderful place and will continue to be.”

The new addition and renovated structure will house 10 laboratories, three research labs, 10 classrooms, two conference rooms and 30 offices. It has been designed to achieve a silver or gold LEED certification as an environmentally friendly “green” building in its design, construction, operation and maintenance.

The existing part of the facility will be reconfigured and upgraded for optimal use of space with a special consideration placed upon the building infrastructure.

Bill Kincaid, professor of mathematics, has been teaching at WC since 1969, “when Kettering was practically new,” he recalled. Kincaid mentioned some of the amenities it offered then, such as private offices for faculty, a telephone shared by the math department and state-of-the-art science labs.

(LEFT) An aerial view highlights the new facility's location on campus.

However, time has taken its toll and the old building is in need of an upgrade, expansion and modern-ization. “There’s only one women’s restroom in Kettering and it’s on the third floor,” he lamented. “In 1969, women didn’t go into science and math (and agriculture).”

While that fact has certainly changed, one thing hasn’t in his 45 years at WC — and that’s how each year starts with the promise of a transforming experience for students.

“Every fall, you don’t know who’s going to shine,” he said.

One of those students that has shone like a diamond is senior biology major Sarah Sinclair, who praised the mentoring and opportunities for student/faculty research she has received during the past four years.

While she will graduate this spring and no longer be a student when the new building opens, Sinclair expressed her excitement for her College and its future students.

“This project will bring WC’s (science and agriculture) facilities up to par and will help attract additional bright and motivated students,” she said.

“Wilmington is a place for opportunities to establish personal and professional friendships,” Sinclair added. “It is a great place to find yourself as a student, a person and a professional.”

The College will proceed immediately with the building project as a result of a $20 million, low interest loan awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which was represented by Tony Logan, the USDA’s Ohio state director of Rural Development.

“A vibrant agriculture sector is a stimulant to the economy,” Logan said, noting there’s “never been a more exciting time” in which to be involved in agriculture. “This new agriculture (facility) is the consummate rural development project.”