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Virginia Wesleyan College Breaks Ground on Greer Environmental Sciences Center

State-of-the-art facility will provide unprecedented opportunities for students, foster regional collaboration

News Release | January 13, 2016

Virginia Wesleyan College held a ceremonial groundbreaking Jan. 13 for the nearly 40,000-square-foot environmental sciences center that will change the landscape of the College.

Virginia Wesleyan College President Scott D. Miller told guests in attendance that the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, scheduled for completion in summer 2017, will not only provide unprecedented state-of-the-art instructional and laboratory opportunities for students, but it will also expand the College’s regional collaborations with organizations such as the Virginia Aquarium, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

“The Greer Environmental Sciences Center honors former president Billy Greer’s advocacy for the sciences and commitment to sustainability,” said President Miller. “It also marks the College's declaration to society and the greater academic community that Virginia Wesleyan is resolved to be a premier liberal arts college in the field of environmental science.”

December 2015 Virginia Wesleyan graduate Sydney Covey also spoke, sharing insight on the future center’s student impact.

"As a recent graduate, this new center is very, very special to me," said Covey, who majored in environmental studies and business. "I know the Greer Environmental Sciences Center will serve as a stepping stone for Marlins as they heighten their desire to learn about the center's sustainable features and the sciences of the earth."

Also in attendance were Gary D. Bonnewell ’79, Chair of the Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees, Billy and Fann Greer, VWC Professor of Marine Biology Soraya Bartol, and Professor of Earth Science J. Christopher Haley, who spoke about the College’s vision for the sciences.

The Greer Environmental Sciences Center’s indoor and outdoor learning spaces embody “science on display” and will promote hands-on experiences, interactive learning and interdisciplinary research in environmental science, marine biology and more. Construction materials and plantings will demonstrate how a building can operate with efficiency and sensitivity to the natural world.

Since 2010, the College has invested more than $4.5 million in the natural sciences through facility renovations, additions of major equipment and STEM-focused scholarships. As a result, enrollment in the natural sciences has grown by 111 percent in the last five years and biology has flourished to become one of the most popular majors, representing 11.5 percent of the student population in fall 2015.

The Greer Environmental Sciences Center was designed by VMDO Architects and will be constructed by Hourigan Construction. The completed facility will complement Blocker Hall, the College’s existing natural sciences building.

Learn more about the Greer Environmental Sciences Center at www.vwu.edu/GESC.