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A Gift funds new science building

A Gift Funds New Science Building 

Earlier this year, Westminster received the largest gift in its history—$10 million from Ginger and John Giovale of Flagstaff, Arizona. The gift will go toward helping Westminster construct a new $30 million, 60,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art science center and endow a faculty chair in science.
The announcement of the gift was greeted with excitement and gratitude throughout the entire Westminster community, especially members of the science faculty and their students. News of the gift was reported in the Wall Street Journal in its “Gift of the Week” column, as well as by every one of Utah’s major newspapers and television stations.

In reference to the gift, Ginger Giovale remarked, “I have always believed that a good education can not only have a positive influence in transforming an individual’s life, but also the country and, indeed, the world. This gift is only made possible by the creative work of W. L. Gore associates worldwide, many of whom have received just such an education.”

At a press conference announcing the gift, Westminster President Michael Bassis noted, “This generous gift will support Westminster’s growing science programs. We seek to prepare science majors for important careers and to promote scientific literacy among all Westminster graduates. The science curriculum our faculty has developed includes a variety of active, experiential, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary learning designs and provides students with abundant opportunities to engage in undergraduate research. The new facility will enhance our ability to foster interdisciplinary learning.”

Also speaking at the press conference, Peter Meldrum, the President and a CEO of Myriad Genetics and member of Westminster’s Board of Trustees, discussed the challenges facing the state of Utah as it moves toward a leadership position in the field of genetics and biotechnology. He remarked, “The students at Westminster are eager to tackle these challenges and continue the advancement of Utah’s life science industry.”

Ginger and John Giovale both attended Westminster and have been long-time, generous supporters of the college. They met at Westminster as undergraduate students during the 1960s. Ginger was a math major and John studied science. Ginger has maintained that their mutual interest in math and physics was what brought them together.

Ginger currently serves as the chair of Westminster’s Board of Trustees. She is the daughter of Bill and Vieve Gore, who also met at Westminster, at a May pole celebration during the 1930s. Ginger’s grandmother Dora Gore attended Westminster in the first decade of the 1900s. In addition, the Giovale’s son Danny became the third generation in the Gore family to study—and meet his wife—while studying at Westminster. During the press conference, President Bassis quipped, “I suppose their gift can be seen as a contribution to ensuring the continuation of the family line.”

The Gore and Giovale families have supported the college over the years because of their belief in the importance of an independent, liberal arts college like Westminster in the Intermountain region. Their support is based on Westminster’s focus on student learning; its educational environment, one that is both challenging and supportive; and the college’s commitment to preparing every student for success.

The new science center will support technologies such as wireless computing, image-capturing microscopes, modeling and miniaturization capabilities, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance capability. The college will build the facility using LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified techniques, modeling the college’s commitment to environmental responsibility. The center will also employ an open architecture with multiple shared and integrated spaces to provide high-performance classrooms and 14 laboratories that can easily be reconfigured as the curriculum changes over time.

Dr. Paul Hooker, associate professor of chemistry, remarked, “This will not be a building with six floors of research labs where professors can hide from students in their ivory towers, with some teaching rooms strategically placed in the basement. The boundary between research space, laboratory space, and classrooms has been purposefully blurred so that new and effective teaching techniques can be employed.”

Mary Jane Chase, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, remarked, “This gift will allow us to teach science in the most interdisciplinary way imaginable. There is not a single thing we could do at Westminster that would make a bigger difference in transforming the college and the education we offer than this new science building.”

Hooker added, “With this new facility, we will be able to teach and inspire the next generation of science students in the United States. With increased global competition, the time for this building could not be more appropriate. For science education in Utah, this is, indeed, the place.”

Westminster science student, Michael Accord (’06), who has been accepted into a number of prestigious medical schools for next fall, concluded, “Westminster will continue to do great research, make important advancements in science, and build invaluable relationships with its students. The building will provide a wonderful space to continue the Westminster tradition in excellence. On behalf of all the students, I would like to personally thank Ginger and John Giovale for their very generous gift.”