Knowlton Science Center

Multi-million dollar investment to benefit students and region 

President Dr. James M. Harder announced on Friday, Feb. 19, that The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation of Cincinnati, Ohio, has made the largest single gift in Bluffton University’s history. The $4 million gift spearheads the development of a transformational new science building located at the heart of campus. The university’s goal is to open the building by fall 2019.

“The Austin E. Knowlton Science Center on Bluffton’s campus will be more than a science building. It will be a place that inspires, with programs designed for contemporary learning and faculty that create a meaningful and relevant student learning experience,” said Harder. “The building will transform science education at Bluffton so that the university can prepare leaders equipped to address the pressing science, technology, math and health care needs of the region.”

The news was shared during a special gathering of faculty, staff, students and the media in the Marbeck Student Center during the winter meeting of Bluffton University’s Board of Trustees.

“The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation is delighted to be a catalyst for this new phase of STEM education for Bluffton University and its students,” said Ed Diller, a foundation trustee. “This gift furthers the missions of both the university and the foundation to promote and advance higher education, particularly in the fields of science and math and especially in northwestern Ohio where Austin E. Knowlton was born and raised.”

The $14.5 million, 32,500 square foot Austin E. Knowlton Science Center on Bluffton’s campus will feature 10 energy efficient, high tech learning labs for biology, chemistry, physics and dietetics, all designed for hands-on-experimentation. All labs will be equipped with digital technology and A/V to integrate instruction with experiments. The university’s project architects are SoL Harris/Day (Executive Architects-North Canton, Ohio) and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (Design Architects-Pittsburgh).

The new facility will include three classrooms designed for science instruction plus 15 faculty offices and adjacent learning/study spaces to enhance student-faculty interaction. Public spaces will be designed for students and visitors to experience science in action with views into all labs and an accessible green roof area. The building will also serve as home to academic programs in the natural and applied sciences including biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and dietetics.

“Without question, a new science building is essential for Bluffton to deliver 21st century teaching and learning for academic majors in the sciences, and it will also be an integral part of Bluffton’s liberal arts education for all students,” said Harder.

The leadership and support by the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation helps Bluffton achieve the institution’s priorities including: preparing students for advanced study and careers in math, science, nutrition and health care; strengthening core learning for all students; and seeding innovative teaching, learning and academic programs.

“In recent years, the foundation has also established a significant endowed scholarship to benefit Bluffton students and supported the work of Bluffton faculty through an energy education curriculum development project. Bluffton deeply appreciates the Foundation’s vision and support for private higher education in Ohio including Bluffton,” said Harder.

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