Seton Hill University (SHU) began working over the summer to complete the third floor of the JoAnne Woodyard Boyle Health Sciences Center. The first and second floors of the Boyle Center opened at the beginning of the 2015 fall semester.
“It worked out when they designed the building, they had enough foresight to think we probably should put another floor because we’re going to expand,” said Bernadette Fondy, chairperson of the Division of Natural and Health Sciences. “The whole idea of the additional room was that the sciences were growing.”
The third floor of the Boyle Center will contain classrooms that each have a preparation area, along with a research lab, the division office and faculty offices. Fondy said some of the courses that will be taught on the third floor are Human Anatomy and Physiology, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Animal Physiology, Cell Biology and Genetics.
“It gives space for all the sciences to be between Lynch and Boyle,” Fondy said. “Each lab having a prep area will be very helpful. We have one big prep area in Maura, and people have to run up and down the halls. This way, you just have to go to the next room.”
The biology department has been transitioning from Maura Hall to Lynch Hall and the Boyle Center over the years. However, there are still classes being taught in Maura Hall, along with a few offices of biology professors. The university recognized the science department needed more space and reached out to the Eden Hall Foundation. The foundation, which has donated to SHU in the past, awarded the university a grant to complete the third floor.
“I feel like it’s a recognition on the part of the university of what we need to be doing to prepare students to move on to the next level,” said Steven Bassett, associate professor of biology. “It’s bringing the lab equipment and lab space into a 21st century approach to education.”
Bassett was one of the professors who talked to architects about the “best configuration” for the new labs. He said along with more storage space, he asked for better ventilation for dissecting specimens.
“One big change is we’re going to have an invertebrate room,” Bassett said. “Invertebrates take on the temperature of their environment, so I asked them to put in a room that was temperature controlled.”
Similar to the first and second floors of the Boyle Center, the third floor contains an area with chairs and couches for students to spend time.
“When I go up those spiral staircases, there’s so many spaces for students to sit and study, and it was something we didn’t have,” Bassett said. “I think just the idea of faculty and students not being isolated from each other and being in the same proximity will really be important.”
Bassett also said that although the labs in Maura Hall are functional, having new equipment will provide a better learning experience.
“I think a very important benefit for students is that they’re not going to be in a pretend lab environment,” Bassett said. “They’re going to be in a lab environment that’s very similar to what a research lab would be like.”
The university hopes to open the third floor of the Boyle Center in January 2017. Fondy said she is excited to get settled in and for all the opportunities the new space will give students and faculty.
“It shows the university’s commitment to our students,” Bassett said. “To spend lots of money on a facility that’s really going to accustom them to the types of settings in which they will work professionally.”