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Skidmore College

Skidmore’s state-of-the-art science center opens its doors

September 23, 2020
by James Helicke

The first phase of Skidmore’s Center for Integrated Sciences (CIS), the largest single academic initiative in College history, has been completed and is open for the fall semester.

The 58,000-square-foot North Wing — the first of three phases of the CIS project — is home to the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. It also houses Introduction to Chemistry courses and the Biology Department’s organismal and field methods classes.

“The space here in the Center for Integrated Sciences is truly wonderful. It’s spacious. It’s modern. It has all the safety controls,” said David Domozych, professor of biology and director of the Skidmore Microscopy Imaging Center (SMIC). “It’s going to allow us to provide top-of-the line instruction to our students, and it’s also going to be able to support modern research.”

The North Wing features 58 laboratories and classrooms, 21 faculty and staff offices and resources that are currently spread across campus, such as SMIC, whose collection of microscopes rivals those of larger research institutions.

“We have centered all of our microscopes around our teaching area, which we didn’t have,” said Pat Fehling, associate dean of the faculty and professor for health and human physiological sciences. “Now, when our students come in and they want to learn these sophisticated imaging techniques, we sit here. We talk about the theory, the practice. Then we go to the eight different rooms using these highly specialized microscopes.”

A microscope in the CIS building

A specialized microscope in the new CIS North Wing.

CIS represents Skidmore’s vision for the future of the liberal arts by fostering interdisciplinary connections between and among the sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences. Upon completion in 2024, CIS will host all of Skidmore’s 10 science departments and programs, as well as more than 90 science faculty members.

Madelyn Streb '20, a senior chemistry major, said she has appreciated opportunities to work closely with faculty members at Skidmore and is excited about new opportunities that the space will create for students.

“The building is equipped with public study space and glass-paneled whiteboards, which automatically generate a more collaborative energy,” Streb said. “The lab space is much more open and organized, which excites me for all of the underclassmen who will be the beneficiaries of a space built to optimize instruction and facilitate productive collaborative learning.”

A classroom in the new science building

A classroom in the CIS North Wing

The first building in Skidmore’s history to be LEED-certified, the North Wing also reflects Skidmore’s commitment to sustainability. Housed in the North Wing is a new underground geothermal system that will heat and cool all 200,000 square feet of the CIS.

The College has begun work on the CIS East Wing, the next phase of construction. The East Wing will include a large makerspace, where students and faculty can explore creative solutions to important issues, and will feature the grand atrium, the “living room” of CIS.

“We completed the site preparatory work and have begun to pour the concrete of the foundation of the East Wing,” Associate Dean Fehling said. “Soon we will see the East Wing emerging from the ground!”

Associate Dean Fehling gives a tour of the North Wing

Pat Fehling, associate dean of the faculty and professor for health and human physiological sciences, gives a tour of the CIS North Wing.

Skidmore is also remodeling an existing campus building, New Dana, as part of the CIS project.

In order to house departments during construction, Skidmore recently opened a new swing space building known as the Annex in time for the fall semester. The Annex currently houses the Department of Physics, the Geosciences Department, the Environmental Studies and Science Program, and classes from other departments.

“The North Wing, the Annex and the entire campus will operate under protocols of social distancing, providing us with safe spaces to use the new science equipment,” Fehling added.

Earlier this year, Skidmore demolished another campus building, Harder Hall, in order to prepare for the next phases of construction. 


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