With fall term underway, Converse College students are studying the natural sciences in a new $10.6 million technology-packed science building.
The 36,000 square foot Phifer Science Hall, which was officially dedicated Sept. 14, houses eight major lecture rooms that double as fully functional laboratories, smaller research laboratories and prep rooms, a custom-designed green house, and a fully equipped computer laboratory. Each room is equipped with the latest in computer and audio-visual technology.
Converse constructed the facility in order to be more competitive in the niche market that women’s colleges have created for the traditionally male-dominated field of science. Studies show that students at women’s colleges major in science, continue toward doctorates in science, and pursue careers in science at nearly twice the rate of women at coeducational institutions. “Women’s colleges provide an environment where women naturally develop into leaders, in part because they are able to be uninhibited in academic settings,” said Converse president Nancy Oliver Gray. “Women learn that they can be and do anything they aspire to do.”
Phifer Science Hall gives them tools for educational training that puts them on the forefront of science careers in today’s competitive job market.” Phifer Science Hall is named for Converse alumna and board of trustee member Susan “Susu” Phifer Johnson, and was constructed with funds from the college’s $82.5 million capital campaign. The campaign was launched in 1998 with a $15 million challenge gift from Johnson and her husband, George Dean.
“George and I believe that the sciences are central to the future of Converse College and we want Converse students to have a contemporary building in which to learn and prepare for careers in these fields,” said Johnson.
Course offerings in Phifer Science Hall include general biology, general chemistry, zoology, cellular and molecular biology, ecology, botany, organic and biochemistry. All Converse students are required to complete general education science requirements. Students seeking natural science degrees take 41-66 hours of science courses.
“In addition to the new technology, one of the greatest benefits of the building is the fact that the laboratories are designed to be used for lectures,” said Dr. Douglas Jensen, assistant professor and chair of the biology department.