Denison Dedicates Samson Talbot Hall of Biological Science
Posted: April 16, 2004
GRANVILLE -- On a warm and breezy spring afternoon (April 16), Denison University dedicated its new Samson Talbot Hall of Biological Science.
At the western edge of Denison's Campus Common, Talbot Hall now houses the functions formerly located in adjacent Higley Hall, a building completed in 1941 when biology, as both a discipline and an academic department at the College, was much smaller.
Talbot Hall is named for Denison's first alumnus-president who served the university after the Civil War and oversaw the introduction of the "natural sciences" into the college's classical liberal arts curriculum. The structure is part of the Denison's recently completed $60-million Campus Common project that includes the Burton D. Morgan Center and an underground parking facility for nearly 400 vehicles.
Denison University's state-of-the-art Samson Talbot Hall of Biological Science anchors the west end of the college's $60-million Campus Common, a four-acre addition to College Hill which was completed last fall.
The new building provides greatly expanded facilities that reflect recent advances, especially in molecular biology. In addition, as Biology Professor Tom Schultz has noted, biology is taught differently at Denison today -- lectures take the form of discussions, small group projects and student presentations, using all forms of media. Faculty members are engaged in original investigative research, and students use laboratories to observe live organisms and investigate biological processes through experimentation and statistical analysis. In addition, faculty often involve students as assistants or collaborators in their work, so that they learn how science is done, one-on-one.
Flexible teaching labs in Talbot Hall make it possible to conduct long-term and short-term experiments, and to foster learning-by-doing. The teaching labs are clustered with faculty research labs to further share resources and equipment efficiently, while classrooms are designed to reflect departmental commitment to small, interactive courses. Lecture and seminar rooms use latest digital media technology, while also fostering peer learning and small-group activities. In addition to social spaces on most floors for students, there is a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled greenhouse on the top floor which is segmented into multiple zones with differing light, temperature and humidity levels.
This building project is part of an overall Campus Master Plan created in 1999 by the firm of Graham Gund Architects of Cambridge, Mass. That plan is the latest revision of campus planning documents dating back to the early 1900s, when Denison first retained Frederick Law Olmsted & Sons, landscape architects and designers of New York City's Central Park.
Denison Board of Trustees Chair Mark F. Dalton '72 and University President Dale T. Knobel presided at Friday's dedication of the five-floor, 60,000-square foot facility that was made possible, in part, by a $15 million gift by alumnus Jim Oelschlager '64 and his wife, Vanita, of Akron. Architect Graham Gund and Denison Provost David R. Anderson also made remarks.
Also participating in the ceremonies were two descendants of Samson Talbot, an 1851 Denison graduate who died in 1873. They were current student Nicole S. Talbot '07, a great-great-great-granddaughter of Talbot of Nevada City, Calif.; as well as his great-great grandson, 1950 Denison alumnus Barton Tecumseh Bawden of El Dorado, Calif., who presented a portrait of the building's namesake for prominent display in the new Talbot Hall.
Ground for the new building was broken during 2001 Homecoming festivities and Talbot Hall has been in use since the start of the 2003-04 academic year. The Oelschlagers were also present at the dedication ceremonies, which were preceded by a number of alumni panels devoted to careers in the biological sciences, as well as tours of Talbot Hall. A reception for dignitaries followed the ceremony.
The Albert M. Higley Co. of Cleveland served as construction manager for the project. The Higley firm has been involved in the construction of 21 buildings or building additions at Denison since 1949. Kurt Heinicke, Denison class of 1973, is vice president of the Higley Company and represented the company at the dedication.
The dedication was preceded with a keynote address on Thursday evening (April 15) by renowned Stanford University biology professor Stephen R. Palumbi. The "principal investigator" for the Palumbi Lab at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, Calif., Palumbi delivered a talk titled "Evolution in Daily Life" in the filled Burton D. Morgan Center Lecture Hall.
Author of "The Evolution Explosion: How humans cause evolutionary change" (Norton, 2001), Palumbi holds a doctorate in marine ecology from the University of Washington. His research group at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station studies the genetics, evolution, conservation, population biology and systematics of a diverse array of marine organisms.
He has published widely in genetics and evolution of sea animals (sea urchins, whales, cone snails, corals, sharks, spiders, shrimps, byrozoans and butterfly fishes), especially related to conservation of species. His book "The Evolution Explosion" shows how rapid evolution is central to emerging problems in modern society and has been lauded by non-scientists for its "easy access."
"Steve Palumbi is a well-respected teacher and educator," noted Denison Biology Department Chair Eric Liebl. "His interdisciplinary approach is very much in keeping with what the new Talbot Hall is all about -- communication between the disciplines -- and he's a dynamic, outgoing speaker who connects with a non-science audience." Liebl also noted that his colleague, Assistant Professor of Biology Kristina Mead, worked with Palumbi at Harvard and was instrumental in bringing him to Denison for the dedication of Talbot Hall.
Denison University, located in Granville, Ohio, was founded in 1831 and is a privately supported, coeducational college of liberal arts and sciences, offering three different bachelor's degrees (B.A., B.S. and B.F.A.) among more than 40 majors and concentrations. Some 2,000 full-time undergraduate students represent 47 states and 34 foreign countries. Denison is fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and is a member of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) and a founding member of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). Denison's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established in 1910. Dale T. Knobel is Denison's 19th president.
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