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A small step for party planning, a giant leap for integrating the sciences

  • Lofty atrium:
    Lofty atrium:  Eric Bradley, chair of the Department of Biology and emergency and planning coordinator for Arts & Sciences, looks around the spacious atrium of the new Phase 3 of William & Mary’s Integrated Science Center.  Photo by Joseph McClain
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Chairs of the academic departments populating the third phase of William & Mary’s Integrated Science Center have decided that one way of integrating science is to integrate homecoming.

 “We are going to have a combined homecoming celebration with all four departments participating in this ground floor for homecoming,” Eric Bradley said. “That has never happened before.”

There is plenty to do before Homecoming —or even planning for Homecoming. Moving people and instruments from applied science, biology, chemistry, high performance computing and psychology into a newly constructed building is not a trivial task. Even though settling-in will continue for some time, ISC 3 will be open for science for the fall semester when classes begin Aug. 24.

 The only exception will be ISC 1221, the large lecture hall that fills the rounded section of the building nudging out toward Landrum. University Registrar Sallie Marchello says classes scheduled to meet in 1221 have been temporarily reassigned.

“ISC 1221 is not going to be ready until approximately Labor Day,” Marchello said. “So for the first two weeks of the semester, we have simply reassigned everything scheduled for 1221 over to Millington 150.”

Bradley has a dual role in the ISC. He is chair of the Department of Biology and also emergency and planning coordinator for Arts & Sciences. He expects finishing touches throughout the 113,000-square-foot building to be in progress for a time. “You’ll see ladders up and boxes around,” he said.

The new occupants of the ISC 3 began moving in during first weeks of August, coming from Millington, McGlothlin-Street Hall, Jones Hall and other William & Mary buildings, including the first two phases of the Integrated Science Center.

Homecoming weekend this year is set for Oct. 14-16. It’s traditional for the gathering to include events for special segments of alumni, in addition to the all-alumni attractions such as the parade and football game. In addition to anniversary classes, there are reunion events for special groups such as band alumni, Young Guarde, Olde Guarde, black alumni, LGBTQ alumni, etc.

And the academic departments of William & Mary traditionally hold gatherings welcoming back their own alumni. As Bradley said, this year the ISC 3 departments of applied science, biology, chemistry and psychology will combine their homecoming activities into a single event in the spacious atrium of the new ISC 3 building.

The collaborative celebration makes sense on several counts. Homecoming is the perfect occasion for the departments to show off their new “machine for science” — plus, one party is easier to plan than four.

Another reason for the single party is that the integration of sciences has resulted in alumni whose William & Mary experience has worked across traditional departmental boundaries. Bradley noted that the undergraduate neuroscience program, for example, has axons connected to all four ISC departments.

The ISC 3 atrium is an excellent party venue, designed to be a public space. Even when there’s not a party going on, Bradley expects the atrium to naturally attract a great deal of traffic because the space is adjacent to two of William & Mary’s largest lecture halls, the long-serving Rogers/ISC 1127 space and the newly constructed 1221 facility that’s part of ISC 3.

“We’ll have these two auditoria — which are right next door to each other — one seating almost 300, the other almost 200,” Bradley explained. “So we’ll have almost 500 seated, with another 500 queuing, waiting for their class to start. So there will be plenty of traffic.”

The building design places 1221 just down a corridor from the 180-seat 1127 room, both steps away from the atrium. Marchello notes that ISC 1221, with capacity at 294-plus, will be the largest lecture space on campus, half again bigger than the next-largest, Andrews 101, which seats 200. Together, the two auditoria will be the venue for more than 50 class sections, scheduled throughout each Monday-Friday class day.

Bradley noted that the normal comings and goings of students and faculty who work in the ISC, coupled with the auditoria traffic, create an opportunity to develop the atrium into a social space. So there will be a coffee shop, he said. Four “display labs” with large windows facing the atrium will let visitors look in and see science in action. Bradley said large digital monitors will be installed to showcase additional work.

“This will be a center for coffee,” he said. “It will be a center for interdisciplinary discussion. And then just seeing what’s going on.”