QU Renovates Physics Lab at North Campus

Lexie Broemmer –

Because of Quincy University’s Forever Forward campaign, its students now have access to a newly renovated physics lab.

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, a national philanthropic resource for organizations and institutions who work in the fields of education, health, culture, and social service, donated $50,000 to QU in early 2015 for the Center for Science renovation.  The donation was used to renovate the lab.  The project was completed in December of 2015, and this semester, Spring 2016, is the first time students have been able to use it.

Professor of Physics Dr. David Kirchhofer used this lab when he first started teaching at QU in 1987.  He had the lab for almost 20 years until the Music Department was moved to North Campus from Main Campus, and it was taken for the department.

He thinks the renovations to the physics lab are beneficial, and that the new lab is much better than his previous one.

“I think it’s really nice to have a bigger space.  In the other room, pretty much you could set up one lab, and there were large lab groups, which isn’t really very good.  Sometimes I had four or five people together at a table, and so some of them probably don’t get very much out of a lab because they’re just kind of watching everybody else,” Kirchhofer said.  “So, here I can set up two experiments at a time, which is what I’m doing now, and then I can use three tables for each experiment, so I can keep the number of people it’s going to be [per experiment at] either two or three, so it’s a lot better, I think, for the students.”

Senior Cortni Hicks, who will graduate in May with a Bachelors of Science in chemistry and a minor in biology, also thinks the renovations to the lab are helpful.

“Last semester, the physics lab was crammed into a small room on the second floor. Although the new lab is not ideal for location since it is in the basement away from the other science labs, it does offer a lot more space,” Hicks said.

In addition to the Physics lab, the biology and chemistry labs were renovated in the summers of 2014 and 2015, respectively.  The money donated for the biology and chemistry labs, a $2,000,000 gift from an anonymous donor, jumpstarted the upgrades at the Center for Science.  It was the single largest donation in QU’s history.

In some of the labs, the faculty now has access to Smartboard technology.  Hicks said the labs are barely recognizable with their new lab benches, storage cabinets, and updated equipment, such as fume hoods, which make the chemistry labs a safer environment when students are working with hazardous chemicals.  Hicks believes all of the remodeling will give students a better learning experience.

Hicks said the remodeled main entrance to the Center for Science, which now includes a study lounge and a Chartwells center, is beneficial because it is much more welcoming.

“Students who have a majority of their classes at North Campus or are commuters with gaps in their classes love having the easy access to food,” she said.  “Since I basically live at North Campus, I usually do not have time in between my classes to stop at the Hawk’s Hangout to grab a bite to eat, and I have classes through the lunch mealtime at the cafe. I love being able to just go downstairs and grab a quick lunch at Chartwells.”

Kirchhofer thinks the renovations to the Center for Science not only benefit current QU students, but that they also could attract prospective students to the school.

“I’m not sure that if a student is a prospective student, and they come here for a visit, you’re necessarily going to take them to the physics lab.  If somebody comes here and they are interested in pre-engineering and they’re talking to me, I’d probably bring them in and show it to them,” he said.  “But the new lab, certainly for upstairs, for biology and chemistry, I think that’s very big to be able to show a much more modern lab.  I think that might help bring a student here.”

The Natural Science program at QU is growing steadily.  In fact, the school saw a 25% increase in graduates from 2014 to 2015 in the program.

Hicks thinks the renovations to North Campus will help QU continue to attract students.

“Since there are a growing number of students interested in science, renovations were much needed at North Campus.  The improvements in technology and modern looking laboratories will make Quincy University more appealing in the eyes of prospective students,” she said.

QU has also received a $200,000 donation from a local foundation.  It will be used to renovate an anatomy and physiology lab.  Also, it is expected that the classrooms on the main floor of the Center for Science will be renovated over the summer of 2016.  More renovations will be completed as funds are received.

The renovations to the physics lab and the rest of the Center for Science are a part of QU’s Forever Forward fundraising campaign.  It is the school’s first comprehensive campaign, meaning it will address several projects, including renovations and upgrades to the Student Union, QU Stadium, the Center for Science, Brenner Library, the Music and Communication Departments, the Chapel, and endowment.  The campaign’s goal is to raise $25 million. To date, it has raised $16.1 million.


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