When Ross Hartley was taking mathematics and science classes at Baker University, he never dreamed his name one day would be associated with a campus building.
Hartley, a 1970 Baker University graduate and longtime benefactor of the university, on Friday was among those attending the dedication of the $10.3 million Ivan L. Boyd Center for Collaborative Science Education, the largest capital project in the history of the university.
The Boyd Center consists of the renovated Mulvane Hall, the 9,000-square-foot Ross and Christine Hartley Hall, and a relocated greenhouse. The center contains classrooms and laboratories for biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and information technology.
“I was a math major and chemistry and physics minor and spent hour after hour in (Mulvane Hall),” said Hartley, who had a successful career working with his father in the family’s independent insurance company and co-founded NIC Inc., a leading provider of electronic government services in the United States.
So, when Baker officials came up with a feasible plan for the new science education center, Hartley and his wife decided to donate $1.6 million toward the project.
In addition to their donation, Baker University received an anonymous $3.5 million gift that became the keystone contribution to the project. The donor issued $2.5 million as a challenge gift and requested the complex be named after Boyd.
The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation also contributed a $750,000 challenge grant, the largest gift Baker has received from a foundation.
The Hartleys saw the new science education center for the first time Thursday night.
“The old staircase was there. I thought, ‘This is Mulvane,’ ” Hartley said. “As we progressed through the old and the new, Hartley Hall blended right into Mulvane Hall.”
Ivan L. Boyd, who taught at Baker University from 1941 to 1982, served as chairman of the biology department until 1972. His son, Roger Boyd, a 1969 Baker University graduate, is director of natural areas and professor emeritus of biology at Baker University.
Roger Boyd said the old math and science building handicapped students because there was no room for research or space for new equipment. The new science education center will have more and larger labs that will double as classrooms and have ample research area.
Boyd said the new center also will be a successful tool in attracting science students to the campus.
“This is a phenomenal thing that’s happened,” he said.
Pat Long, president of Baker University, said the university will be making an announcement in the not-too-distant future about another transformation project.
“We are excited about the energy and excitement generated for this building and for people to see what private funds can do for a university and for future projects,” she said.