$68 million center houses Chemistry Dept., federal center of excellence in explosives research. Serves 7,000 students enrolled in chemistry courses each year
KINGSTON, R.I. – September 6, 2016 – State and university officials, donors to the project and business leaders participated in a ceremonial ribbon cutting today for the $68 million, 134,623-square-foot Richard E. Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences Center.
While faculty and staff members have been moving into the new facility throughout the spring and summer, the four-story structure will welcome its first students Wednesday, Sept. 7 when the new academic year begins.
Funded in large part by a $61 million bond issue approved by Rhode Island voters in the 2010 election, the facility bears the name of Richard E. Beaupre, an alumnus and longtime supporter of the University who made a major gift to support the project. He is the founder and chief executive officer of Lincoln-based ChemArt. The Cumberland resident graduated from URI in 1962 and received an honorary doctorate in 2003. His nearly $4 million in gifts to URI, including his recent $2.5 million donation, over the past decade have helped scores of students, including those with financial need and those interested in the arts.
The center replaces Pastore Hall, which was built in 1953 to accommodate 800 students. Today, more than 7,000 students enroll in chemistry classes each year.
The Beaupre Center, which houses the URI Department of Chemistry, including its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs, as well a federal Center of Excellence for Explosives Detection, Mitigation and Response, triples the amount of space for teaching labs and nearly doubles the space for research laboratories, with 14 teaching laboratories and 18 faculty research labs.
The main level of the Beaupre Center also features the 240-seat Victor J. Baxt Lecture Hall and a 95-seat lecture hall, each equipped with demonstration hoods. A camera is mounted inside each hood, which allows professors to project their laboratory lessons to large screens for viewing by students. The Beaupre Center also has a 30-seat classroom and the Teknor Apex Instrumentation Lab.
The building features tall walls of glass, which provide natural lighting and offers views of the surrounding academic buildings, as well as four exterior wall types: stone, brick, phenolic resin and aluminum panel.
The center is home to leading faculty who conduct research in such areas as developing advanced batteries to fuel energy efficient automobiles, improving resolution in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and creating new clinical methods for early disease detection.
The architect was Wilson Architects Inc. of Boston, and the contractor was Bacon Construction of Rumford R.I. Keogh Construction Management of East Providence, R.I. was the project manager.
“Fostering research, innovation, and discovery is critical to Rhode Island’s future as a center of advanced industries,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “This facility, along with other recent projects, positions the University to attract businesses, entrepreneurs, and inventors to our state and grow our economy. I want to commend the University and its leadership for delivering yet another spectacular facility that will provide longstanding benefits to its students and Rhode Island as a whole. This is a proud day for our state.”
The building is expected to achieve Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design (LEED) Silver status. It is expected to use 49 percent less energy than comparable existing buildings, and is projected to save 20 percent over the minimum Rhode Island energy code.
“URI is extremely grateful to Rhode Islanders for their strong support of URI’s major building initiatives over the last several years, which have positioned the University as an international leader in health, life and natural sciences,” said URI President David M. Dooley.
He also emphasized the role of chemistry in nearly all branches of science.
“Science is at the heart of innovation and discovery, and chemistry is the foundation for numerous scientific disciplines,” said Dooley, who is also an active research chemist. “Now that the Beaupre Center is complete, we have a start-of-the-art, energy efficient complement to our College of Nursing and the other two new facilities in the Health and Life Science District in the northern sector of campus–the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences and the College of Pharmacy Building.
“It is in this sector where our faculty are discovering new ways to fight terrorism, disease, environmental degradation and threats to public health,” the president said. “Chemistry is the building block and the bedrock for the health sciences, biotechnology, energy, pharmacy, nursing and high technology. And now with the opening of this building, we provide our faculty and students with the very best teaching and learning tools.”
“On behalf of our students, faculty and staff, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Richard Beaupre, the late Victor Baxt, ’38, Hon. 2011, and his wife Gussie Baxt, who is here today, Katsuaki Kaito, president of Shimadzu Scientific Instruments Inc.; Jonathon Fain, chairman and CEO of Teknor Apex and URI Cheimstry Professor Louis Kirschenbaum and Dr. Susan Kirschenbaum for their generous support of this project,” said Winifred Brownell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Because of their philanthropic investment and support of their companies, we now have a leading chemistry center for our students, faculty and staff. Thanks to the engagement of alumni and friends like these, our University is able to provide outstanding programs of teaching and research with the equipment and facilities they need to face the challenges of the 21st century.”
“Since our department began moving into the new center, faculty members, staff and graduate students have been impressed with the design, technological tools and laboratory spaces that will help our students learn the latest techniques, make their own discoveries and prepare them for careers in chemistry and a wide range of other scientific disciplines,” said Professor William Euler, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “Everyone is excited about getting to work in this advanced facility.”
During the ceremonies today, Beaupre expressed his gratitude for the honor and issued a challenge to current URI students.
“I am most grateful for the incredible honor that has been bestowed on me. I never thought that I’d receive an honor like this in my lifetime, and I accept it with a sincere sense of humility and gratitude,” Beaupre said.
“Gov. Raimondo recently suggested that we need to keep our Rhode Island graduates in in the state, and that is what I have done with more than 150 full-time employees at my business in Lincoln. I am proud to be a Rhode Islander and a supporter of economic development.”
Beaupre credited URI with helping him pay for his college expenses following his service in the Navy and as he and his wife began raising their children.
“I would like to talk to those students who have received financial help from URI,” Beaupre said. “I believe that you have a moral obligation to give back to URI when you are in a position to do so. In my lifetime, I have given millions of dollars to URI as my way of saying thank you for the support I received when I needed it most. I invite you to join me and others to help future generations of students.”
URI photo by Nora Lewis