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Keuka College News

Thoroughly Modern Millspaugh

Editor’s Note: The following article was featured in Keuka Magazine’s Winter 2001 edition.


When the Millspaugh Science Center was first constructed in 1962, it was state-of-the-art.  But state-of-the-art doesn’t last long when it comes to top-notch science instruction.

“The building met the needs of the 1960s,” said John Ellis, project manager for the building’s recently completed $3.1 million renovation. “But in the beginning of the 21st century, it was inadequate.”

Funding for the $3.1 million renovation is one of the initiatives of the $25 million Shaping the Future: One Graduate at a Time campaign begun July 1, 1996, and continuing through June 30,2002. A $600,000 challenge grant from the Emerson Foundation has been specifically earmarked for the Millspaugh renovation, as well two gifts of $50,000 from the Davenport-Hatch Foundation and both a $25,000 challenge grant and a $75,000 grant from the McLean Contributionship. Another $250,000 was awarded by the Daisy
Marquis Jones Foundation, as well as $250,000 from Franz and Katherine Stone. Two Keuka College alumni also made large donations toward the renovation: Nydia Kuck, Class of 1941, and Liz Smith, Class of 1952, each named laboratories.

The total raised for the renovation so far is $1.25 million, said Vice President for College Advancement Carolanne Marquis. “We’re grateful to these major donors and are now looking to all of our friends and constituents to help us obtain the rest of the funding.”
Several major grant proposals are pending, Marquis added.

According to Professor of Biology Jim White, major goals of the project included bringing the building up to current code, improving the ventilation system and fume hoods used for scientific experimentation, increasing safety, and increasing handicapped accessibility. White, along with Professor of Chemistry Gary Hickernell and Associate Professor
of Biology Tom Dickinson, worked directly with the architectural firm, SWBR Architects of
Rochester, N.Y., and LeChase Construction, also of Rochester, in the planning stages of the renovation.

“We sat down and talked about what we wanted as a division, and then [the three of us] sat down and talked to the architects,”White said. “The faculty played an integral role in the design of the building,” Ellis said. “The faculty and staff were wonderful to work with.”
Overall improvements to the building include new plumbing, a new heating and cooling system, new electrical outlets, new ceiling tile, better lighting, and new flooring to replace the old asbestos flooring.

Previously, Ellis said,” chemicals would react over the summer because there was no air conditioning.” An uninsulated steam pipe prior to the renovation meant that heat in the
hallways could be stifling at times, Ellis said. Now, that pipe has been insulated, and the heating and cooling system keeps the building at comfortable temperatures.

Fume hoods throughout the building have been replaced with new hoods that have automatic on/off sensors, Ellis said. New stainless steel ductwork for the hoods was expensive, he added, but won’t corrode like other materials.

Many work stations now have power outlets for computers, Ellis said, and several of the work tables and fume hoods have been built lower to the ground, to allow for handicapped

“Now, all of the workspace is accessible to all people,” he said, adding that a new power operator on the door to the building makes the front entrance wheelchair-accessible.
Specific improvements on the first floor include a renovated auditorium with the latest in audiovisual equipment, a computer classroom, a new student lounge, a new greenhouse, and a new potting shed for the greenhouse.

The new auditorium has a capacity of more than 140 people. It includes both handicapped and left-handed seating, and has power outlets for computers. The computer lab has 12 computers in it, accommodating classes of up to 24 students.

“It’s designed to be used by the whole campus,” Dickinson said.
In the past, Ellis said, there were several times when all the greenhouse plants were lost, because the central heating plant that also heated the greenhouse was shut down while the
outside temperature was too cold for some greenhouse plants to survive. To avoid that problem, the new greenhouse has two heating units independent of the system that heats the main building.

Second-floor improvements include a water lab, a new copy machine closet, a microscope room, a warm animal room to be used when working with warm-blooded animals, and a cold animal room for working with coldblooded animals.

“We have the opportunity to work with a larger variety of animals, because we have two different spaces to work with them in,” said Professor of Biology Joan Magnusen.

The warm animal room has not yet been licensed for use, but will be available before the next time Vertebrate Physiology is taught in 2003, she said. Equipment for the second- floor water lab was purchased with the help of the Keuka Lake Association (KLA).

“The KLA has been extraordinarily generous, not only in its financial support for purchasing equipment and funding research, but also in its strong advocacy for an environmental science program,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Kasey Klingensmith.

In addition, former KLA Chairman Dr. Al Wahlig donated a boat to be used by the environmental science program, and Jeff Morgan of Morgan Marine in Penn Yan donated
two years of boat storage and maintenance.

“We’re really set up to do studies of the lake that can be longitudinal studies,” Magnusen
said, meaning that studies can be ongoing over several years, with students comparing their results to those of previous students. Third-floor improvements include see-through
fume hoods in the organic chemistry laboratory, deionized water systems for cleaning test tubes and beakers, a new dark room, a cold room, and locking cabinets in the stock room for chemicals. The dark room is used not only for photographic projects, but also for viewing photomicrographs of cells and tissues, as well as for any experimentation
that requires darkness.

“Sometimes you need to look at things under ultraviolet light,” Dickinson said.
The cold room is kept at a near-freezing temperature, which can be useful for certain experiments, particularly in biochemistry, Magnusen said.

“The molecules you’re working with often will break down at room temperature,” she said. Whereas before, experiments often had to be conducted using ice buckets, now the whole room is kept at a cold temperature. Although a professional moving company was called in to carry the heavy items, the move out of the building was a long and difficult process, White said. Both faculty members and work-study students pitched in.

In particular, White said he had to individually bag and wrap the ornithology collection of more than 100 stuffed birds while wearing gloves, so that the feathers would not be destroyed. Completing the move back into the building could take as long as spring semester, he added.

“Everything’s coming along very well,” White said, “but we’re still in the process of  unpacking the boxes of stuff we teach with.”
Reaction to the renovation has been very positive.

“If you’ve never been in this building before, it’s a completely different place from how it used to be,” Dickinson said.

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