Russell Science Center becoming a reality
Wearing lab coats and goggles, supporters “broke” ground at the festive groundbreaking ceremony in May for the Russell Science Center, the first new, freestanding, academic building on the Hilltop in more than 40 years.
The actual site behind them was already fully excavated with cranes poised to begin construction. Over the next few weeks crews would pour more than 150 caissons 50 to 75 feet into the ground to support the four-story science center.
Cornell’s Board of Trustees and other leadership donors were on campus for the event, joined by supporters and partners from on and off campus. President Jonathan Brand and other speakers acknowledged three recently announced major gifts to the $35 million Greater > Than Science Facilities Project:
- A $4 million gift from Life Trustee Richard Small ’50 and honorary alumna and Honorary Trustee Norma Thomas Small. Already the most generous supporters in Cornell history, Richard and Norma have given much of their lives and their resources to leading and strengthening Cornell. “The college is deeply grateful for their generous gift to the science facilities project. With this gift they make an even more profound difference on the Hilltop,” said Brand.
- A $3.6 million challenge grant—already met—from the Hall-Perrine Foundation (represented at the event by President Jack Evans). “Cornell is extremely grateful to the Hall-Perrine Foundation for its generosity and commitment to the region and higher education,” Brand said. “The Foundation has a long commitment to the area’s private colleges, and for this Cornell is especially grateful. Its very generous challenge grant for our science facilities project provided momentum for a fund drive that is nearing completion.”
- A $1 million gift from Trustee Jerry Ringer ’59 and honorary alumna Carole Ringer. “Jerry and Carole’s generous nature and Jerry’s effective leadership have provided remarkably strong, steady support to Cornell College for years,” Brand said. “The college is grateful for their outstanding support of the science facilities project.”
Speakers each recognized Trustee and scientist Jean Russell ’65, who was there with her husband, Bob Childers, for her $20 million lead gift in honor of her Cornell experience and her father’s legacy.
Biology Professor Craig Tepper shared how faculty and architects designed the Russell Science Center for a seamless transition between teaching and exploration in the classroom and lab, allowing students to interact with each other and faculty. Tepper said this step into the future is only possible because of the donors. “On behalf of the faculty, I would like to acknowledge their generosity, not just for the science center, but for continued support for the entire college,” he said.
The Greater > Than Science Facilities Project will double Cornell’s STEM space. The college is working with prospective donors to raise the remaining $3 million for the $35 million project.