Integrated Sciences Building officially dedicated

By Jennifer Heshion

isb2-1After three years of construction, the Integrated Sciences Building, located on North Pleasant St. at the University of Massachusetts, received its official dedication Monday, Sept.14 with over a hundred well-wishers in attendance.

Among the company of donors, congressmen, senators and educators, Chancellor Robert C. Holub took to the podium in the amphitheater of the Integrated Sciences Building (ISB) at 9 a.m. to offer his congratulations to all the people who had been instrumental in developing the new sciences complex.

“[ISB] will be filled with students enthusiastic about learning, and future technologies will be developed here,” Holub said. “What will happen here will be beyond our imagination. In this building, we will educate the next generation of leaders in science.”

According to University president Jack M. Wilson, the primary mission of developing the ISB was to teach students in the fields of chemistry, biology, biochemistry and molecular biology. The advantages of the ISB, Wilson said, will be to allow students access to scientific instruments currently in use in a professional setting.

With a cost of $114.5 million, the four-story ISB contains state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories with hi-tech scientific demonstration facilities for 4,640 students per semester. It also holds an auditorium capable of seating 300 students.

UMass senior Alysson Gray, a legal studies and microbiology major, said she believes the ISB will certainly benefit students.

“What is really nice about the ISB is how spacious it is,” Gray said. “When you have a large lecture class with 300 students, you are not right on top of one another. I think that it will be nice to have new labs to work in because some other places on campus are not really up to par with what we need to get done in the labs.”

Monday’s dedication ceremony follows nearly three years to the day when the University first broke ground on the sciences building. John W. Olver, congressman of the first congressional district of Massachusetts, was a key supporter of the development of the ISB. He also present at the first ceremony for the ISB on Sept.8, 2006, which is when construction of the building officially began.

“I am very pleased to be here for the opening of the ISB,” Olver said. “Many of us here today were here three years ago for the groundbreaking, and it is very satisfying to see the project come to fruition. I would especially like to congratulate the students who are here now and who will be here in the future. I hope they will take advantage of all the ISB has to offer.”

Another supporter of the ISB was the late Senator Edward Kennedy, who Congressman Olver had said exerted his considerable support in the House of Representatives and in the Senate towards having the ISB built. Olver was not the only one who expressed his gratitude towards the senator. Holub, Wilson, as well as several donors to the ISB all stressed how instrumental Kennedy was to the development of the building.

Kennedy passed away three weeks ago after a long battle with brain cancer, but he was present for the ISB’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2006, where he conveyed his hopes for the new sciences building and spoke about what it will mean for UMass students. During Monday’s dedication ceremony Chancellor Holub read what Kennedy himself had said on that September day back in 2006.

“The ISB will help UMass Amherst reach the next level in its extraordinary effort to lead in the most cutting-edge fields of research in this new century of the life-sciences,” said Kennedy. “This project is a major investment in the region, and it will help attract private investment and high-paying jobs to western Massachusetts.”

In addition to thanking those whose political support had made the building possible, Holub also bestowed recognition on the Mahoney family who had given substantial donations towards the ISB. The Mahoney brothers, Richard, William and Robert, were in attendance with their wives for the dedication of the building in addition to the dedication of the first four floors of the ISB’s atrium which are to be known as The Mahoney Family Atrium.

Each of the Mahoney brothers is UMass alumni and former chemistry majors. They were called to the podium to receive a plaque acknowledging their generous donations to their alma mater. Robert Mahoney graduated from the university in 1970 and was chosen at the ceremony to speak on behalf of his family.

“Our story is the UMass story,” said Mahoney. “We were three guys who walked this campus in the 1950s and 1960s with the anxiety that every freshman feels. I’m sure, like us, this was their first and only choice to receive a higher education and now [with the ISB] we can carry on an amazing tradition when this place was the chemistry capital of the world.”

Mahoney concluded his sentiments, “Let the teaching and the learning and the research begin.”