President talks future of Franklin’s STEM programs
With the expansion of the Franklin College Science Center edging closer to completion, President Thomas Minar sat down with The Franklin to discuss what this new addition means for the college.
“It’s not a building just for science students; it’s a building for the whole college,” Minar said. “We see people hanging out in the funniest little corners of this building. You see them grabbing the couch on the first floor or something upstairs. The Science Center will have really explicit, uber-cool hangout spaces, for learning and teaching.”
The $17 million project was inspired by an experience Minar had touring the expanded science facility at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.
“My favorite part about [Dickinson’s facility] is that outside of a faculty member’s office, there’s a little round table and a couple chairs and a black board,” Minar said. “Students will come and study there or spend casual time there, and they have more interaction with faculty.”
Minar said Franklin’s model will not mimic Dickinson’s facility entirely, but it will similarly drive students to the building for a range of purposes.
While the building will place emphasis on the science curriculum and cater to the needs of Franklin’s science students, Minar stressed that it does not mean science is abandoning the college’s liberal arts values.
“STEM and liberal arts are not exclusive of each other,” Minar said. “We do a lot of STEM education here. In fact, we do everything that is embedded in this code word ‘STEM,’ which doesn’t really mean anything except ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.’”
STEM isn’t a new concept for liberal arts colleges like Franklin, he said. Instead, it’s more of a continuation of the college’s core values.
“The opening of the building doesn’t signal a turn of the college. It signals an advancement,” he said. “It signals an investment in curriculum that had been important to us for a hundred years or more.”
Through the new 51,000-square-foot center, the college is also fostering new relationships with companies such as Eli Lilly, B2S Life Sciences and Roche Diagnostics.
“The project is an extension of our commitment to those companies and those industries because we want to train people to be ready to go make great things happen at those places and for the economy of Indiana, the Midwest and beyond.”