WILKES-BARRE, PA (OCT. 4, 2013) - Wilkes University today dedicated the $35 million Lawrence and Sally Cohen Science Center in a ceremony capped by a confetti-filled thank you delivered by students. Wearing t-shirts heralding “I am the future of science at Wilkes University,” students held up signs thanking the donors who made the building possible through their contributions to the $21 million “Achieving Our Destiny” campaign. Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy was joined by Lawrence and Sally Cohen, donors for whom the building is named, in unveiling the sign for the building that bears their name.
In dedicating the building, Leahy quoted the late British prime minister Winston Churchill. “Churchill once said, ‘We shape our buildings. Thereafter they shape us.’ It is my pleasure today to welcome you to the dedication of such a building – a building that has been shaped by many, through their planning, commitment and support. A building that will shape the future of science education at Wilkes University and the students who will study here. “
More than 300 alumni, elected officials, guests and members of the University community attended the 4 p.m. event at the entrance to the science center on the Fenner Quadrangle in the heart of the Wilkes campus.
In addition to Leahy, speakers included Jack Miller, a 1968 Wilkes graduate and president of the University’s Board of Trustees, and Terese M. Wignot, University interim provost. Elected officials attending and speaking included Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas Leighton, state Sen. John Yudichak and state Rep. Eddie “Day” Pashinski.
The new science center is named for Lawrence Cohen, a graduate of Wilkes’ class of 1957, and his wife Sally. The Cohens contributed $2.5 million to the “Achieving Our Destiny” campaign. The gift is among the largest outright gifts from an individual alumnus in the University’s history and caps decades of strong support from the Cohen family. Cohen is the chairman and chief customer advocate for Benco Dental Supply Co., located in Pittston.
The 72,500-square-foot building houses the University’s award-winning biology and health sciences, chemistry and biochemistry and environmental engineering and earth science departments. Each of the four floors features state-of-the-art equipment and related laboratory space to facilitate student “hands-on,” experiential learning – a hallmark of the University’s mission. The third floor is dedicated to research laboratories for biology, chemistry and environmental research, encouraging interdisciplinary connections and faculty-student interactions on teams. The building was designed by SaylorGregg Architects of Philadelphia. Laboratories were designed by Nalls Architecture.
The University has applied for silver certification for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council for the building. Sustainable practices were used in its construction. A green building design conserves energy, materials and water. Green features include natural lighting; partial green roof; water storage outside the building to prevent stormwater runoff to urban sewers; sustainable polished concrete floors, Forest Stewardship Council-rated wood that is harvested responsibly; and energy-efficient lighting.
Members of the community will have a chance to tour the new science center and take advantage of science activities for youngsters in grades 4 to 12 when Wilkes holds an open house in the new building on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event, “A Passport to Science,” will feature hands-on science activities and demonstrations. Reservations are encouraged and required for groups of 10 or more. To register, visit www.community.wilkes.edu/PassportToScience.