A Celebration of the Future of the Sciences at St. Olaf
October 3-4, 2008
In many ways, the dedication of St. Olaf College’s new science complex was a yearlong celebration. The faculty of the college selected “Science and the Liberal Arts” as the theme for the 2008-2009 academic year. Guest speakers, special events, exhibitions, and performances were presented on the theme during the entire course of the academic year.
Dedication Weekend, timed to coincide with the college’s annual Homecoming and Family Weekend, offered a wide array of activities celebrating the sciences at St. Olaf and the official opening of Regents Hall.
Among the highlights of the events leading up to and culminating in Dedication Weekend were
- The Phi Beta Kappa lecture on Thursday, September 25 by noted science historian and evolutionary biologist Betty Smocovitis, who spoke on advancements in evolution theory since Darwin. That evening, Dr. Smocovitis presented a more light-hearted look at the relationship between science and American popular culture, in a talk titled “‘Singing His Praises’: Darwin and His Theory in Song and Musical Production.” A Charles Darwin birthday party followed.
- “Science, Art, and the Imagination,” a science themed art exhibition was on display at the Flaten Art Musuem from September 12 to October 26.
- The theater department put on a production of The Aerodynamics of Accident. A comedy by playwright Deborah Stein, set in 1897, about an ambitious young girl who crashes to her death in an experimental flying machine and returns to haunt the house of a reclusive widow and upstart professor. Directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Karen Peterson Wilson, the play ran from October 1 to October 5.
- The Plenary Dedication Address was given by University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III. A nationally recognized advocate for improvements in science and math education, with a special emphasis on minority participation and performance, Dr. Hrabowski graduated at 19 from Hampton Institute with highest honors in mathematics. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he received his M.A. (mathematics) and four years later his Ph.D. (higher education administration/statistics) at age 24.
- The traveling exhibit the “NASA Vision for Space Exploration Experience” was available to the public in the Mellby parking lot on October 2, 3, and 4. The Exploration Experience began with a simulated visit to the moon where young explorers could build a lunar outpost and touch an actual moon rock. Visitors also explored a virtual model of the moon, interacting with the lunar surface to learn about NASA’s research and future plans for exploration. The second section of the exhibit featured a hexagonal, interactive theater that introduced visitors to NASA’s plan of returning to the moon in new vehicles currently being developed to create a working environment that will help ensure safer, more effective future exploration into the solar system.