by Nune Gazdhyan
The Natural Sciences Department at the University of La Verne has implemented a three-phase remodeling procedure in an effort to improve the overall condition of its facilities and provide students with a suitable learning environment.
Three academic departments and a service department fall under Natural Sciences. These include the chemistry, biology, mathematics and computer science departments.
“We have a philosophy, as do most science programs, that laboratory is a very important part of instruction,” said Dr. Jay Jones, professor of chemistry. “We, at the University of La Verne, pride ourselves in that we give our students much more hands-on experience with instrumental and laboratory equipment.”
With the increase in enrollment and more students choosing fields within the natural sciences, the space needed to accommodate these students has decreased. Dr. Jones said that, in order to be able to provide students with the adequate and quality education the department prides itself in, it is necessary to enhance the facilities.
Phase I of the reconstruction process has already been implemented. Dr. Jones said it involved the renovation of the chemistry laboratories to eliminate the safety concerns such as improving the poor air quality due to lack of proper ventilation and building of a proper storage place for chemicals.
Phase I was a “stop-gap” renovation which helped improve the ventilation system through the installation of vacuums, gas plumbing, improvement of the overall plumbing and creating proper storage facilities for bulk and flammable chemicals.
Two new small structures were added for this purpose. One is embedded in the staircase leading out of Founders Auditorium.
Within this space are gas tanks hooked up to pipes to provide the needed gas for the laboratories located in the basement of Founders Hall. The tanks are mounted and contain a safety switch which automatically turns off the gas in an event of an emergency.
The other facility is located between Mainiero Hall and Fasnacht Court. It is broken down into numerous storage rooms. One room contains flammable chemicals, acids, bulk supplies, and one contains mounted gas tanks which provide the Mainiero laboratories with gas. The gas contained within this facility also has automatic shut-off.
Much of the funding for the renovation was provided through internal funds and grants from various organizations including the Parsons Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation, which was matched with funds from the University.
Dr. Jones said that once the reconstruction needs are defined, the required renovations are brought to the attention of the University and in turn, contractors are brought in for the task.
Phase II of the renovation is being implemented. It will help improve the condition of the laboratories in Mainiero and Founders Hall. It will also contribute to the building of a penthouse for astronomy and photo chemistry. Some of the rooms such as Founders, Room 10, have already been renovated.
“What we would really like to explore is the possibility of doing all this remodeling in one step rather than make it Phase II and Phase III. It’s definitely more efficient and less expensive to do it that way,” Dr. Robert Neher, chair of natural sciences, said.
According to Dr. Neher and Dr. Jones, Phase III will not be initiated for at least two years. The Natural Sciences Department will utilize Phase III to extend its facilities through the construction of a three-story building that will extend Mainiero Hall.
This building will become the permanent site for the Chemistry Department, it will house physical science laboratories and the Energy Institute, which is involved in photo chemistry and solar energy.
“I think that everything that we do helps turn out better students,” said Dr. Neher.