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Westminster College dedicates $11.2 million science center expansion

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Posted on Friday, September 3, 2021

The new $11.2 million expansion of the Hoyt Science Center at Westminster College was dedicated Friday, Sept. 3, at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially unveil the innovative new space.  

The 27,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, which opened this week as students returned for fall classes, marks the completion of Phase III of the Hoyt Renovation and Expansion Project. The new wing, housing Westminster’s chemistry and biochemistry departments, features classrooms, offices, ample spaces to encourage student collaboration, and six state-of-the-art research laboratories—including an organic chemistry lab named in memory of the late Dr. H. Dewey DeWitt, professor of chemistry emeritus, who served on Westminster’s faculty from 1956-1993.

More than 100 attended the ceremony, which featured remarks from Westminster President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson; Westminster College Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey McCandless; Westminster Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dr. Jean Hale; Westminster Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Dr. Jamie McMinn; Westminster Vice President for Finance and Management Services Kenneth Romig; Campus Chaplain the Rev. James Mohr; and student Seth Schrader.

President Richardson addressed the crowd of donors, faculty, staff, students, community members and elected officials, including state Sen. Elder Vogel, state Rep. Chris Sainato, state Rep. Mark Longietti, and Lawrence County Commissioners Dan Vogler and Loretta Spielvogel. President Richardson acknowledged the financial support from key donors and foundations including the May Emma Hoyt Foundation, the A.J. and Sigismunda Palumbo Charitable Trust, the Orris C. and Beatrice Dewey Hirtzel Foundation and the Lloyd Foundation.

“I am especially grateful to the many faculty, staff and students for being so patient and supportive,” said Richardson. “I hope this building meets your dreams and continues to be a place of growth and learning. Today is a day of celebration for us here at Westminster.”

McMinn, who as a professor of psychology taught in Hoyt for 11 years, said the new facility features innovative spaces and advanced equipment that match the caliber of work of Westminster’s faculty—and potential of Westminster students.

“Today marks a grand moment in Westminster’s story, a moment when we recognize our commitment to providing our students and faculty with leading-edge facilities where they learn, teach, and research collaboratively,” he said.

Schrader, a senior chemistry major from Fredonia, N.Y., attested to the quality of the new laboratory spaces and said they had “all the bells and whistles.”

“I remember touring a lot of science facilities when I was deciding where I wanted to go to college and I can honestly say that none of them even compare to the facilities we have here now,” said Schrader, who is also a member of the All-College Honors Program. “I was lucky enough to spend four weeks of my summer here working in the brand-new research labs, and I can tell you firsthand they are incredible. They have everything you could possibly need or want as a chemist.”

Designed by Columbus, Ohio-based BHDP Architecture and built by Thomas Construction Inc. of Grove City, Pa., the new wing addresses the needs of Westminster’s ever-growing science programs. One-third of Westminster’s students are majoring in STEM-related fields.

The completion of the new wing follows phases one and two of the Hoyt Renovation and Expansion Project, which created Westminster’s nursing and neuroscience facilities and the Dietz Sullivan Lecture Hall, as well as other structural and aesthetic renovations and upgrades to the existing Hoyt structure. The original Hoyt building was constructed in 1974 with an addition built in the 1980s.

The fourth and final phase of the project will address spaces needed for the College’s Center for the Environment and future expanded academic programming, as well as unrenovated areas from the project’s first two stages.

1.  From left, Dr. Jean Hale, Kenneth Romig, Dr. Jamie McMinn, President Richardson, Jeffrey McCandless, Seth Schrader and Dr. Helen Boylan officially cut the ribbon and welcome attendees to tour the new facility. 2. The crowd gathers for the dedication ceremony. 3. President Richardson offers remarks. 4. Student Seth Schrader shows R. Lee Hite '66 one of the new labs. 5. The atrium in the new expansion.