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Growing up and growing out

USF took another step toward becoming a top research university Monday when members of the Board of Trustees and the dean of Arts and Sciences attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Natural and Environmental Sciences building.

The new science building will provide multiple programs on campus with the ability to conduct research in a more efficient manner. Four academic departments will inhabit the new building, including environmental sciences and policy, geography and chemistry.

The building, which has been open for use since the beginning of the semester, is four stories high and encompasses 75,000 square feet.

John Skvoretz, the newly appointed dean of Arts and Sciences, hopes the new building will facilitate USF’s move toward becoming one of the top 50 public research colleges in the United States.

“It’s clearly a tangible material benefit to the students, staff and faculty of the departments occupying it,” Skvoretz said. “It is a building in the heart of campus. For me, the location symbolizes the university’s recognition that a strong College of Arts and Sciences is at the heart of every great public university.”

The College of Arts and Sciences and President Judy Genshaft hope to have USF in the top 50 within five years.

“The message that I want to leave with you today is that we will become the top 50 in five because of buildings such as this,” Genshaft said. “The researchers we have are terrific. I am very happy to see this building in use.”

Along with the newly acquired research facilities, students will find the building equipped with wireless access.

“The quality and size of our teaching and research activities are enhanced by the opening of NES,” said Department of Chemistry Chair Mike Zaworotko in a USF press release. “The teaching labs on the bottom two floors will help us better serve students, and the research labs on the top two floors, devoted to research, will help three NIH-funded organic chemistry researchers focus on drug design and discovery. About half of our new space, the bottom two floors, will be devoted to teaching. The space replaces our classrooms and labs in the Chemistry building, one of the oldest buildings on campus.”

Graduate student Mark Mueller presented the student’s perspective of the new science building and spoke about the state of the old facilities.

“The old labs were in desperate need of the renovations it is now receiving,” Mueller said. “Our new classroom couldn’t be better. We have more room for more students. All of this leads to a more efficient working environment.”

Mueller also works as a T.A. and has seen vast improvements across the board.

“Our research labs have new equipment, more space and better workstations,” Mueller said.

The building was especially gratifying to former provost and former Dean of Arts and Sciences David S. Stamps.

Stamps was one of the original members of the faculty to present the idea of building a new science building to house chemistry and environmental sciences.

“I am particularly proud of this building,” Stamps said. “If you’re going to have a major research university, which we have, you have to have strong basic sciences. Both the university and the College of Arts and Sciences have been committed to interdisciplinary. This building exemplifies that.”

The ceremony concluded with Genshaft and others cutting the ribbon. She was joined at the ribbon by Skvoretz, Mueller, Stamps, provost Renu Khator, trustee Dick Beard and student body vice president Andrew Aubery.