Carpenter Foundation Gives $2 Million for Pearce Renovation

December 12, 2012

A significant contribution from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation will fund a common area on the third floor of Pearce Science Center and propel additional fundraising for the building’s multi-million-dollar renovation.

The foundation’s recent $2 million commitment — representing close to one quarter of the funds remaining to be raised for the overhaul of Pearce Science Center — will help renovate the third floor, which includes academic areas and key communal spaces that are most frequently used by students regardless of their academic major and by the wider community. The 6,500-square-foot space will require the Pearce project’s most extensive demolition and reconstruction and will be named in memory of Leona Carpenter ’35.

“The Carpenter Science Commons will signal a revitalization of scientific learning with research-oriented displays and collections showcasing the vibrant learning environment,” wrote Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dan Layman as part of the proposal to the Carpenter Foundation.

Plans call for the building’s main entrance from campus to open onto the Commons, where students and faculty can meet en route to class, labs, or the new science library. The space will demonstrate that scientific study is integral at Mary Baldwin and position the college to recruit and educate young women who will contribute to medical and scientific discovery in the 21st century, according to the proposal.

“We often say that our students ‘learn by doing,’ and that is facilitated when those students can collaborate with their colleagues and professors … in receptive spaces in the science building,” said Paul Deeble, associate professor of biology.

The first phase of renovations in Pearce — the only major change the building has seen in its 40-year history — was completed in December 2011. A $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation and $775,000 from donors made it possible to create new classroom and lab space on the second floor; update heating and cooling, electrical, and technological systems; painting; replace cabinets, floors, and light fixtures; and install a new water line, modified sewer line, and a new acid neutralization system. Work on the second, and final, phase of the Pearce renovation is scheduled to begin in summer 2014. In addition to the Carpenter Commons, Phase II will address research and classroom areas for supramolecular chemistry and materials science.

Generating approximately $8 million in new donations to ensure the completion of upgrades in Pearce is a critical component of the college’s $80 million comprehensive fundraising effort, Ever Ahead: The Campaign for Mary Baldwin University.

Established in 1975, the Carpenter Foundation is an independent organization whose main interests include the arts, education, theological education and health. Currently led by Leona Carpenter’s daughter Ann Bowman Day ’74, the foundation has generously supported Mary Baldwin for decades; the most recent contribution brings the organization’s total giving to more than $11 million. The foundation’s early gifts included funds for the late-1980s renovation of Carpenter Academic Building and to establish an endowment that supports the college chaplain, the Carpenter Quest Program, and the Preparation for Ministry Program.

The foundation provided generous funding to help establish the Master of Letters/Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare and Performance and underwrite the program for several years. In addition, it was vital in creating and endowing the Healthcare Administration Program, which helps to support student scholarships as well as the Carpenter Lecture series.