New science and math center opens at Bridgewater State University

Governor Deval Patrick visited Bridgewater State University this afternoon for the official opening of the school’s new Science and Mathematics Center, a $98.7 million project that was funded by a state bond.

“Everybody who walks into this facility seriously is blown away,” said Arthur Goldstein, dean of the Bartlett College of Math and Science. “It provides just remarkable spaces for students.”

The new center is a sprawling 211,000 square feet and boasts 78 new labs, 90 new faculty offices, and an abundance of common space area, Goldstein said in a telephone interview this morning.

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The center also has a rooftop observatory, botantical garden, and a greenhouse, according to a statement from Governor Patrick’s office.

“Providing access to quality, affordable higher education is about giving all of our students the opportunity to succeed,” Patrick said in the statement. “Education is Massachusetts’ calling card around the world and central to our competitiveness in the global economy. We invest in education, and in projects like this one, because we believe that it is the single most important investment government can make in our collective future.”

Construction on the center began 2 1/2 years ago and was completed in August, he said. The project involved the renovation of some parts of the previous building as well as demolition and new construction, he said.

The previous center was built in 1964 at a time when the entire student body of Bridgewater State was about 800, Goldstein said. The school now has almost 12,000 students.

“It features new teaching spaces that allow us to teach math and science in a modern context,” he said.

Goldstein also pointed out that the center is not exclusively for math and science students and said that other classes will be taught there, including English, business, philosophy, and sociology.

He said the main goal of the center is to prepare undergraduate students for employment and graduate school through an emphasis on advanced research.

A portion of the building budget was used to purchase new lab instruments, he said.

The tools, Goldstein said, are “top-tier research-grade instrumentation that you would normally only find at an institution devoted to graduate students.”

These instruments, paired with the new facility, will give Bridgewater State students a leg up when they go on to graduate school or seek employment, Goldstein said.

“It’s one of the very finest science buildings on any undergraduate campus in the US,” he said.

Designers of the new center considered the fact that the school has a large population of commuters and made sure to add plenty of common areas where students could work in between classes, Goldstein said.

“We need to be aware of who our constituents are,” he said. “The building is stunning, very highly functional, but it is also architecturally impressive.”

Goldstein said Governor Patrick has been strongly supportive of the new center.

“We really feel like we have a strong advocate in the governor,” he said.

Thursday’s ceremony also officially named the university’s college of math and science after Bruce and Pat Bartlett, who gave the school the largest single gift in its history, Goldstein said.

“This new facility, and the investment behind it, represents our confidence in the leadership, faculty and, most importantly, students that make up our public higher education system,” Education Secretary Paul Reville said in the statement. “I want to congratulate BSU on this beautiful new building and look forward to all of the good things that will come out of this campus as a result of it.”