Stephen F. Austin State University

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Public invited to groundbreaking of Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building

October 27, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Members of the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents will host a public groundbreaking of the Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. The new facility, seen in this architect's rendering, will house various science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments and a new SFA planetarium with a 52-foot dome.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Members of the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents will host a public groundbreaking of the Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7.

The ceremony will follow a regular meeting of the board.

"Construction of the state-of-the-art Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building will improve the academic and professional lives of SFA students and faculty members for decades to come," said Regent Barry Nelson, chair of the buildings and grounds committee. "The facility will be yet another educational bridge between the university and the East Texas community and will help SFA continue to produce top-ranking scholars within the STEM fields."

The SFA Board of Regents approved naming the building in April 2016 for Ed Cole and his wife, the late Gwen Cole, who have supported a number of SFA programs in fine arts, audiology, nursing and athletics, as well as student scholarships.

"Through all their giving, and most recently through a gift dedicated to the STEM initiative, the Coles have shown their pure passion for student success," said Jill Still, SFA vice president for advancement.

In addition to serving as a showcase for STEM learning and teaching anywhere in the United States, Nelson said the very unique and stunning architecture of the building makes a statement that will serve as an icon for the university.

"Wherever it appears, the building's likeness will be widely recognized as a landmark of the SFA campus and a beacon attracting students to pursue our various STEM degree courses in a learning environment second to none," Nelson said.

The 84th Texas Legislature granted SFA approximately $46.4 million in tuition revenue bond funding in 2015 to construct the new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building, which will house the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Computer Science, a new SFA planetarium with a 52-foot dome, and makerspaces - areas that allow students to collaborate and create prototypes or other manufactured works.

The facility also will feature a machine shop, research laboratories, multipurpose labs, computer labs, collaborative classrooms and a terrace equipped with telescopes.