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VIDEO: University of Mississippi Marks Topping Out of New Science, Technology Building

Tue July 05, 2022 - Southeast Edition
University of Mississippi News



Workers secure the last steel beam, covered with signatures by UM students, faculty, staff and alumni, as part of a topping out ceremony for the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation. (Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services photo) Chancellor Glenn Boyce (C) and other university officials gather with construction workers to celebrate the topping out of the Jim and Thomas (Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services photo)

Officials from the University of Mississippi, along with their guests, celebrated a milestone in the construction of the highly anticipated Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation facility during a topping-out ceremony June 23 on the Oxford campus.

Touting the economic and academic implications of the 202,000-sq.-ft. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) building, Chancellor Glenn Boyce was among some 100 attendees who watched as a construction crane hoisted a structural beam to the top of the building, signifying that it has reached its maximum height.

The $175 million facility is on pace to open in fall 2024, the university's campus news service reported.

"At the University of Mississippi, we're committed to advancing teaching and research along with the service and innovation we bring to the state and world," Boyce told the gathering.

"The Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation is a vital part of that commitment. We are excited to reach this significant milestone and look forward to its completion when it will be a crown jewel of our university as one of the nation's leading student-centered learning environments for STEM education."

Chet Nadolski, chief operating officer at Yates Construction in Jackson, joined Boyce and other UM administrators, faculty, staff and students in putting their signatures on the beam before it was lifted into place, hewing to a construction tradition also meant to express appreciation to the building contractor and crew.

"On behalf of Yates Construction, I wish to thank the University of Mississippi, the Duffs and all those responsible for creating this opportunity," the contractor said. "I also wish to thank the trade partners and suppliers building this project. Yates is focused on maintaining a safe working environment while partnering with the university to ensure delivery of a world-class, state-of-the-art facility."

Workers secure the last steel beam, covered with signatures by UM students, faculty, staff and alumni, as part of a topping out ceremony for the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation. (Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services photo)

Facility to House Latest in Learning Space Design

With a focus on increasing job opportunities and boosting the economy, the Duff brothers are Hattiesburg leaders who themselves have committed $26 million to the construction of the UM facility. Its total project cost includes roughly $135 million in construction expenses.

Charlotte Parks, UM's vice chancellor for development, said the university is "very excited to see the Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation take form."

"Jim and Tommy Duff and the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation's wonderful generosity make this incredible center possible," she explained. "There are still naming opportunities inside the building as we build out state-of-the art labs. Our goal is to provide significant innovations in teaching through new technology, scientific instrumentation and materials."

The STEM center will house lecture halls as well as chemistry, biology, physics, engineering and computer science labs. Lower student-instructor ratios will be put in place, and various disciplines will be spread throughout the building to promote interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

Other highlights of the new facility include technology-enabled active learning for students to enjoy, and a 3D visualization lab, like a small IMAX theater, the university's news service noted. In addition, engineering students will have access to dedicated lab spaces, including fabrication and testing equipment, for their senior design projects.

Several communal areas also will give students space to study individually and in small groups, and a STEM tutoring center will provide added support.

Chancellor Glenn Boyce (C) and other university officials gather with construction workers to celebrate the topping out of the Jim and Thomas (Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services photo)




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