Tag: shaping the future
Several years ago, Dr. Russell laid out his vision for McMurry’s future in a speech entitled Vision 2023 . Central to that vision was an emphasis on growth of the sciences and their importance in preparing our graduates for jobs of the future. Biology responded to the challenge of building new and relevant programs for life sciences by developing three new, more focused programs. One of these is the BIMS program.
At the same time, the McMurry Capital Campaign, Shaping the Future, has a focus on supporting spaces for the sciences. These two developments led to a competition on campus this fall where programs were challenged with proposing new spaces to fit their new programs and help make their delivery more effective and efficient. Thought was that an invitation to develop a variety of science building proposals would provide a excellent collection of projects that could be shopped to potential donors to help improve all science programs. Biology submitted two lab renovation proposals, one of which was heavily geared toward improving spaces for BIMS courses.
The BIMS proposal calls for several improvements, including renovating and expanding spaces now used for teaching molecular biology and microbiology courses. The current spaces, S115 and S102, are home to labs (and sometimes lectures) for Genetics, Molecular Biology, Advanced Bioscience Techniques, Unicellular Organisms, Intro to Scientific Research, Microbiology, Immunology, and Senior Capstone Research. Obviously, such heavily used spaces are unusual on any campus and thus pose challenges to effective and efficient delivery, especially in a research-oriented approach to teaching. Renovating these spaces to better meet the needs of all students in these various courses is a challenge worthy of lab renovation.
In the competition, a Physics proposal and the BIMS proposal were chosen for funding. The Trustees meet this weekend and hopes are they will approve expenditure of $2.5M from the Capital Campaign to fund the renovation projects. If so, planningand design will begin immediately and the renovation will start in May to be completed before the Fall 2010 semester.
Here is what the BIMS proposal consists of: more flexible spaces that will support both lecture and lab, anterooms for equipment and incubation and project setup so students can work on their projects outside of their normal hours without interefering with other classes using the teaching spaces, a common equipment area for major pieces of equipment that might be used by students in either lab, special spaces for working with RNA and tissue culture, and possibly additional offices and student space for study, group work, and “hanging out”. Our hope is our students will become citizens of the building and not simply tourists, that thinking and acting like scientists will give all our BIMS graduates a leg up on those who have gone through conventional and impersonal science programs.
This summer the Biomedical Science program was able to purchase several new pieces of equipment to support teaching of genetics and molecular biology courses. Most notable, our aging Bio-Rad MyCycler thermocycler has a new partner-in-crime, a Bio-Rad real-time PCR thermocycler that will add capability for teaching and research. Additionally, a new Bio Tek Ultra Microplate spectrophotometer and Nanodrop microvolume analyzer will help in analysis of samples. We have two additional tissue culture hoods on order which will replace one old biological safety cabinet and add capacity for additional student work. Chemistry was also able to purchase a gel documentation system. Add to those the Hermle centrifuge obtained in May and it is clear the capabilities of our faculty and students has been significantly upgraded over the past six months.
So how was this done during trying economic times by a university that is not wealthy? Several contributing factors made this possible. First, budget decisions are based on assessment results. BIMS faculty have been careful to document the weaknesses of students through the years and make a strong case for expenditures to improve teaching and learning. They also have demonstrated how the purchases have led to gains in student performance, both through gains in Major Field Test scores and also in student involvement in research opportunities. The research-rich curriculum of BIMS courses helps justify funding through departmental budget allocations and capital funds that have to be spent on capital items. Second, the curricular innovation provided by the BIMS major supports President Russell’s Vision 2023 call for enhanced research for students and faculty, relevant programs, and attention to graduating students competitive for jobs of the next 20 years. Also, funds provided by generous donors to the Imagine – Shaping the Future Capital Campaign have helped supply some of the funding not provided by other means. When you are doing exciting things aligned with the vision and goals, and your efforts support the strategic plan, appreciative administrations are more likely to reward you!
Who wins? McMurry’s students! Their success is why we are here!