Administrators and local officials celebrate opening of Hemenway Labs

Logan, Spilka and Cevallos, among others, cut the ribbon to open the new Hemenway Laboratories. (Photo by Brad Leuchte)

Administrators, STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] students, professors and State Representatives came together to watch the ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorating the opening of Hemenway Labs on Oct. 29.

According to Executive Vice President Dale Hamel, the science project began in 2007 when FSU administrators decided the STEM program was the most significant area in needs of improvement on campus. The total cost of the project was $84 million, which was $30 million more than originally estimated.

Robert DeLeo, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, said, “The school does an unbelievable and wonderful job of responding to the needs of its students, its community, its region as well as the state.”

DeLeo said the celebration “reaffirmed Framingham State’s commitment to not only address the growing needs of employers, but its commitment to its students.

“This building will help many students learn in a hands-on way and provide them with tools to achieve in the classroom and beyond.”

President F. Javier Cevallos said, “This beautiful building has energized our science program since its opening in August, providing our students and faculty with access to high-tech spaces that meet the highest safety standards.”

Cevallos added the new labs opened at “an important time” because there has been a recent “shortfall” in STEM graduates to fill jobs.

State Senator Karen Spilka [D-Ashland] said since 2014, FSU’s STEM enrollment has increased 58 percent. She added there are many jobs in Genzyme, life sciences, and bio-tech in the MetroWest area that are looking for STEM students and depend on Framingham State to provide them.

“Buildings like this will help students learn the skills and be ready to hit the ground running in jobs when they graduate. … State of the art doesn’t even begin to explain the 16 new labs.”

Spilka said the ceremony was “wonderful,” and added, “One thing I see is the strength. … Everybody is willing to roll up their sleeves and work together to help out the students.”

Carlos Santiago, senior deputy commissioner for academic affairs at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, said he was “thrilled” to witness this “wonderful accomplishment” for Framingham State.

“Facilities like this will help us transform communities,” said Santiago.

Carol Gladstone, commissioner, division of capital asset management and maintenance [DCAMM] said the University is “small in size and big in presence and impacts.”

Gladstone said DCAMM undertook 10 years of planning before it decided on the final “extremely strong design.”

The new building is equipped with new labs, lounges and study areas. The building was designed by the architecture company Ellenzweig, which specializes in designing science buildings for universities.

Catherine Hunt, associate principal and director of marketing for Ellenzweig, said the company has also worked with the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, MIT, Harvard and the University of Mississippi.

Neil Cahalane, member of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and principal for Ellenzweig said the biggest challenges the company faced while designing the building were placement and accessibility.

Cahalane said the company considered putting the building where Crocker is or in the “front quad,” but decided that behind Hemenway was the best because it had the slightest slope and most accessibility. He added, “Walking through the building is actually the easiest way to access Larned and Towers halls.”

Sophomore Thansuda Namsena, said, “It makes me want to stay here and do homework. … It’s so bright and there’s so much space it makes you focus on what you’re doing.”

Junior Ricardo Calixt said, “It’s a lot more convenient than the library for trying to focus on schoolwork.”

Senior Caitlin Wertz said, “The new labs are very clean. …The old labs had too much outdated stuff.”

Freshman Jefferson Elien said, “The architecture is amazing.”

Junior Jason MacKinnon said, “It has a modern feeling, and makes a nice cut through from the gym to Larned and North.”

Sophomore Kyle Hurley said “I come here frequently. It’s definitely roomier than other buildings on campus and it has comfortable seating.”

Richard Logan, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Framingham State alumnus spoke at the ceremony as well. He said, “It’s certainly remarkable what has been done here.

“It’s a nice testament to the fortitude and forward thinking that folks long before me had.”

Margaret Carrol, Dean of STEM, said the new labs are “very beneficial to students.”

Katie Restuccia, administrative assistant in the Office of the President, organized the ceremony, and said it took about three months to plan.  About 80 “external invitations” were sent out and “just about that many are here.

“All the legislative, trustees and major players are here,” said Restuccia.

Debra Cleveland, executive director of the Independent Association of Framingham State Alumni, said, “The ceremony was more than appropriate. … We are so incredibly lucky to have this group of legislators to make this possible.”

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