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Benedictine College today announced a year-long celebration of a “Century of Science” at its Atchison, Kan., campus. In 1916, the college offered its first science degrees. Today, the college is looking to the next century of science with a planned new Science and Engineering building.
From the beginning, the Catholic college aimed for the highest possible standards in the sciences, sending monks to the best universities to offer students the best opportunities. Fifty years later, in the mid-1960s, a new state-of-the-art Science Hall put the sciences front and center on campus once again. One of the first Biology graduates who took classes in the new building was Wangari Maathai ’64, who would go on to win the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Century of Science comes at a crucial time for the Church. Pope Francis has made science education a priority for colleges worldwide.
In his encyclical Laudato Sí, he called for vigorous science programs at liberal arts schools, saying: “A science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics; but this is a difficult habit to acquire today.”
Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis sees advancement in STEM disciplines as central to the college’s faith-based mission.
“At Benedictine College, we believe faith, morality and ethics are just as important in the sciences as in every other part of our lives. They cannot be separated,” he said. “That is why it is so important to train future doctors, engineers and scientists at a place like Benedictine College that understands the essential role of faith, morality and ethics in the sciences.”
The college launched a prayer campaign in support of the new science and engineering capital project, called the Memorare Army for Benedictine Science Advancement (click here for more information).
The $25 million Benedictine science and engineering building project will be the college’s largest capital project
ever. The college worked with one of the nation’s leading science and technology architects to design the best science facilities possible for the needs of the college’s engineering, biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy departments.
Physics professor Dr. Doug Brothers, who has taught at Benedictine College since 1968, is in a position to know a good deal about the history of science at the institution. He is a past winner of the Educator of Year Award, has received numerous National Science Foundation grants, served as department chair and even served as Interim Dean of the College for 18 months.
He said the future of Benedictine College science will be shaped by the new science and engineering building.
“Our greatest needs revolve around having modern laboratory space and facilities and maintaining and upgrading our laboratory equipment to provide essential experiences for our students to pursue their research interests, to remain active in their fields, and to mentor new generations of scientists,” said Dr. Brothers.
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.