:Chattanooga; :Aug 24, 2009; :Metro/Region; :12

Lee opens math, science complex

By Randall Higgins rhiggins@timesfreepress.com

Online: Hear Lee University President Paul Conn comment on the need for the science building. Read previous stories. Comment.

    CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The first half of a science and mathematics complex has opened for the new semester at Lee University.

    The first half features mostly an array of labs, some classrooms and faculty office suites. The second half of the $14 million project will open in 2010.

    Lee University President Paul Conn said planning for the giant structure began long before Wacker Chemical and Volkswagen announced plans to come to the area.

    “Pre-health sciences is one of those programs that keeps growing, despite all the fear where health care may be going,” Dr. Conn said.

    “There are still so many young men and women who want to become doctors and dentists and so on. We just weren’t able to handle the number of students who want to get into pre-health sciences. We’ve had great success getting them into med school, into the research sciences. We just needed more space,” Dr. Conn said.

    “The second thing is math education. Science and math education at the (kindergarten through 12th-grade) level is becoming a national crisis. There aren’t enough science teachers. I think the concern for a science wing at Cleveland High School is part of the same thing,’’ he said.

    The unnamed science building replaces the now-razed Beach Building, which had been
the campus science building since 1916.

    The science building, which marks the northern boundary of the campus, is the culmination of a $30 million capital campaign that also paid for other buildings in recent years.

    Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland showed the area to business and industrial prospects.

    “They want to see what education services the community has to offer and are always impressed,’’ he said.

    Cole Strong, the university’s liaison to the construction team, said the three-floor, 73,000-square-foots building has seating for 790, including 14 classrooms and 10 laboratories, a lecture hall and seminar room.

    “All classrooms are technology-enhanced,’’ he said.

Staff Photo by Randall Higgins Dr. Paul Conn, Lee University president, stands in a laboratory and talks about the new $14 million science building on the Lee campus.