Murphy Hall gets revamped

Since 1963, science and technology advancements have given humanity a chart of its genes, the discovery of more than a dozen elements and the Internet.

Since 1963, science and technology advancements have given humanity a chart of its genes, the discovery of more than a dozen elements and the Internet.

Dickinson State University's science building, Murphy Hall, erected in 1963, is just barely younger than the polio vaccine.

"Given the focus on science across the United States, and for that matter across the world, it is imperative that we have a state-of-the-art facility for our students," DSU President Dr. Lee Vickers said.

To bring Murphy Hall up to today's science and technology standards, the state spent almost $10 million to construct an updated facility. The university celebrates the four-year project's conclusion during a dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. on Friday.

"The project was funded in phases so that the state could also fund other projects at the same time," Vickers said.


Due to the grand scale of the Murphy Hall addition and renovation, the construction was completed in phases. Starting in April 2003 with construction of an addition to the building, Murphy Hall was fully finished by the time students returned to campus this fall semester.

After construction workers completed the addition, which added 34,000 square feet in April 2005, students returned to Murphy Hall. The construction crew then set about the renovation work.

Dr. Michael Hastings, chair of the natural sciences department, said the faculty is better able to focus on the students' learning, as well as their safety with the project completed.

"The environment in the old Murphy Hall, if we were dissecting cats, everyone knew about it, so it was overpowering in the room," Hastings said. "Now, we have all kinds of good ventilation."

He said other perks of the new building are all classrooms are smart classrooms, fitted with interactive technology.

"You have the room to do hands-on research in hands-on labs," Hastings said. "We didn't have that before."

Hastings and Vickers agree the new building has been met with cheers from those who use the building.

"Faculty, students, parents, visitors, legislators have all indicated how pleased they are we have a new facility and can serve our students in the appropriate manner," Vickers said. "In spite of the fact that our faculty did an outstanding job in the old facility, they'll certainly be able to do a much better job now that they have state-of-the-art equipment."


Hastings said even students who have not been in the building can appreciate the improvements.

Freshman Tyler Neuberger couldn't agree more. He recognized it immediately as a nice building, saying it was "much better" than science labs he used in high school.

Like Neuberger, students Matt Quintus and Ryan Bogner said they haven't had much opportunity this semester to use the laboratory equipment, as classes started about two weeks ago.

Quintus, a sophomore, said he noticed immediately, though, the labs are much bigger.

Bogner, a junior, added with more laboratory space, it means students can keep personal lab equipment and solutions, rather than sharing them among the class.

"There's definitely a lot more room in the auditorium," Bogner said. "You don't have to have early morning classes just to get to use the auditorium."

Vickers said while there may be new programs coming along because of the expansion, they have not yet been identified.

"Now, with the new facility and with the Stroup Scientific Auditorium, which allows us to deliver over interactive television either courses or science modules to selected K-12 schools in western North Dakota, we will be working more closely with them," Vickers said.


Friday's event features speeches from Gov. John Hoeven, North Dakota Sen. Ray Holmberg, North Dakota Rep. Frank Wald, Murphy family spokespeople Carol Murphy-Shortridge, Kent Shortridge, Delise Tomlinson, Blair Johnson and Beth Johnson, as well as DSU student body President Lydia Johnson and Vickers.

Following the dedication ceremony, there is an open house and tours of the facility. Faculty and students are also available to offer a variety of demonstrations, including presentations on photosynthesis, North Dakota vertebrates and biochemistry equipment. The event is free and open to the public.

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