Jan 7th, 2013 @ 10:58 am | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley
As VCSU students return to campus this week for the beginning of the Spring 2013 semester, they will be taking classes and labs in the newly built Rhoades Science Center expansion. Construction on this nearly 28,000 square foot facility began in November 2011 following a $10.3 million appropriation supported by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, Governor Dalrymple, and the 2011 ND Legislature. It is an especially exciting addition to the campus given the fact this is the first new construction of academic space at VCSU in nearly four decades. The last academic building constructed at VCSU was the original Rhoades Science Center that opened in 1973.

This new expansion features state-of-the-art classroom, laboratory, office, and meeting space on three floors. The first floor features aquatic laboratory space that will be used heavily by students in specialized programs such as VCSU's Fisheries & Wildlife major. The first floor will also be home to VCSU's Great Plains STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Education Center and an Engineering lab. The second floor will house students primarily studying biology with several new spacious, cutting-edge laboratories and classrooms. The third floor will feature chemistry labs and classrooms. Faculty offices within various academic disciplines will be spread throughout the three floors.

The new expansion also features advancements in air quality, laboratory design, chemical storage, and general safety improvements representing major upgrades from their previous spaces. These improvements will certainly benefit students and faculty alike. There are also significant energy and efficiency improvements with the building's construction and final design. As such, we are pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the US Green Building Council thereby demonstrating the sustainability and environmental-friendly nature of this building's design, construction, and ongoing operation. Hallways and common areas feature gathering spaces for students to study and collaborate as well as exhibition areas to feature projects, awards, exhibits, and news regarding students and faculty.

During the next six months, the second and third floors of the existing Rhoades Science Center will be completely renovated and will eventually be home to such academic areas as Physics, Math, Geology, the Planetarium, and VCSU's Nursing collaborative students. The first floor of the original Rhoades building was renovated last summer and houses VCSU's Information Technology Center, a large lecture-style classroom, and an IVN (interactive video network) classroom.

The entire project, consisting of the new expansion and the renovated existing space, will be completed by July 2013 and ready when students arrive for the start of the 2013-14 academic year. When complete, this new and renovated space will represent some of the most prestigious science learning spaces throughout North Dakota and beyond. Much of VCSU's enrollment growth the past several years has been in academic areas such as Fisheries and Wildlife, Health Science, and Nursing, and this new and improved space will further allow VCSU to continue growing in these areas and serving the needs of today's and tomorrow's students. The opening of the Rhoades expansion this week is yet another exciting development further enhancing our community and serving the students of Valley City State University!