WSU Vancouver dedicates new Life Sciences Building

Exterior view of the Life Sciences Building on the WSU Vancouver campus.

The new Life Sciences Building on the WSU Vancouver campus was dedicated Thursday, June 6, during a ceremony that included students, faculty and staff as well as donors, state legislators and others.

“This building unlocks unbound potential in research, student learning and community engagement, and I want to thank everybody who has been a part of getting us here today,” said Washington State University Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer.

Gratitude was the message of the day.

The $63.8 million project was funded largely by $57.1 million awarded from the Washington State Legislature for predesign, design, construction and furnishings. Due to market inflation, the cost to complete the Life Sciences Building came in above the original estimate. The Washington State Office of Financial Management provided supplemental funds to offset market inflation, WSU Vancouver applied money from its own reserves and many donors contributed to complete the building as planned.

“Completing the Life Sciences Building required a partnership between our state legislators and private philanthropy,” said WSU System President Kirk Schulz. He said it’s important to build the buildings we need, not just now, but well into the future, and not be limited by budget. That’s where philanthropy comes in. WSU Vancouver also celebrated the opening of eight named spaces in the Life Sciences Building with the donors and their supporters.

“Well over 10 years ago we started out with a vision for a building that would house chemistry, biology and nursing programs, bringing all of these life sciences disciplines together in one building to create synergies and collaboration for teaching and research. That’s what this building is,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Christine Portfors.

The Life Sciences Building, slated to open to students in August, houses lab space for programming in biology and chemistry, serving general educational needs for all students and foundational courses for an array of STEM degrees, including biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and nursing.

“We always understood this complex project — a labor of love — would ultimately support the research of our faculty, which is groundbreaking and of international importance, and support student learning in brand new ways with new opportunities for collaboration and partnerships,” said Netzhammer.

Thursday was the first opportunity for guests to see the Life Sciences Building’s art installations. Murals and floor tiles were created by Los Angeles painter Roberto Delgado. Seven pieces by Oregon-based painter, printmaker and illustrator Jo Hockenhull are on display. Hockenhull is a WSU Pullman emerita professor and served as associate dean for academic affairs at WSU Vancouver. “Pointed Mask” by sculptor Seymour Lipton, and donated by the Palmer Foundation, can be viewed in Suite 225.

The Life Sciences Building is open during WSU Vancouver’s regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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