Wilkes’ $35 million state-of-the-art Lawrence and Sally Cohen Science Center was officially dedicated last Friday in a ceremony that took place during Wilkes’ annual homecoming weekend.
As a rainbow appeared overhead, the dedication started at the entrance to the science center at on the Fenner Quadrangle. The center of the Wilkes campus buzzed with excitement from guests and members of the Wilkes community that included more than 300 alumni and elected officials in attendance.
There were two points reiterated throughout the ceremony: Thanks to Larry and Sally Cohen along with the other donors and participants involved with making the science center a reality and a special emphasis on how this science center will be a great instrument into the making of great strives to be done by students and faculty.
“It is safe to say that the Cohen Science Center will educate students who will literally change the world,” President Patrick Leahy said.
Along with Leahy, the ceremony included remarks from Jack Miller, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, Mike Wood, vice president of advancement, Terese Wignot, interim provost and Ian Foley, Student Government president.
“This day has been over 10 years in the making,” Wood said. “We worked together, dreamed together for this day.”
Elected officials at the event included Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas Leighton, state Sen. John Yudichak and State Rep. Eddie “Day” Pashinski.
“This is a gateway for future doctors, scientist, engineers,” Sen. Yudichak said of the science center. “This is the start of a march of colonels to turn Wilkes University into a premier research institution.”
Lawrence Cohen, a graduate of Wilkes’ class of 1957, and his wife, Sally, contributed $2.5 million to the “Achieving Our Destiny” campaign, one of the largest direct donations in the history of Wilkes.
This donation reflects decades of sound support from the Cohen family.
Construction on the science center began in March 2012. The design is by SaylorGregg Architects of Philadelphia, and the laboratory space designed by Nalls Architecture of Narzerth, Pa.
The 72,500-square-foot building was constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver standard.
“This is the first LEED certified building in the city of Wilkes,” Wignot said.
The construct of the building is environmental sustainability. The building is equipped with “green” features such as natural lighting along with energy-efficient lighting, water storage outside the building to prevent storm water runoff to city sewers and sustainable concrete floors.
The green design of the whole building is a learning tool because it allows students to monitor the building performance in regards to energy and water usage. The building is four floors of laboratories and rooms that house biology and health science, chemistry and biochemistry, earth science and environmental engineering departments.
The rooftop will be used for student learning, too. Rooftop gardens to reduce water runoff from rainstorm. There is a greenhouse, meteorology station and a wet lab kitchen. Throughout the building characteristic of experiential learning and scholarly success is promoted.
Lawrence Cohen said he had three comments regarding the science center. He started by thanking everyone for showing up. Next Cohen commented about the investment he and his family made, referring to it as “the largest investment my wife Sally and I ever made, and without regret.”
Finally Cohen said “dispite the name on the building, this has been a family deal” including the names of their three children, Rick, Chuck and Rebecca.
As the ceremony came to a close, Leahy walked with Larry and Sally Cohen to reveal the name on the science center. The cover was pulled off, and the crowd erupted with cheer as confetti flew out of cannons into the air overhead.