WOU held a grand opening ceremony for the DeVolder Family Science Center on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The event included tours of the facility, a ribbon cutting and remarks from WOU President Mark Weiss, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, Interim Chancellor of the Oregon University System Melody Rose, Chair of the Natural Science Division Dr. Steve Taylor, Associated Students of Western Oregon University President Travis Meuwissen, and Ron ’68 and Norma DeVolder (pictured in center, below), the alumnus family whose significant contribution helped fund the facility. WOU also received an anonymous leadership gift of $250,000, to support the construction of this much-needed addition to campus.
Prior to its opening, the sciences were housed in the Natural Sciences Building, which was built in 1969. Since 2006, WOU has seen an overall enrollment increase of 23.3 percent, which has led to a corresponding demand in the sciences. Courses related to health care have been the most popular, particularly the expansion of the nursing partnership with OHSU have seen the highest rate of growth. The biology and chemistry courses have influenced gains of 43 and 79 percent, respectively. The capacity limits of faculty and lab/class spaces are most felt in the 100- and 200-level courses, which are required for all undergraduates as part of the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum. More than 3,500 students take science courses annually.
The DeVolder Family Science Center will house the Chemistry Department and anatomy-physiology components of the biology program. The facility, designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification, includes approximately 21,000 square feet of new space for science programs. It has six new 1,200 square foot laboratories, as well as ancillary preparation, storage and office space.