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impACT Today, Transform Tomorrow
Rocky Mountain College formally launched the public phase of its impACT Today, Transform Tomorrow capital campaign on November 14, 2015. This $19 million capital campaign includes $15 million to build a new science building and renovate the existing science building, $2 million for an operations and maintenance endowment for the science building, and $2 million for enhancements to the Herb Klindt Field.
Construction on the initial phase of this capital project began in September 2016, and includes building a new $8.9 million, three-story, 32,972 square-foot science building. The completion of this first phase is estimated for fall 2017. This first phase also included $2 million in enhancements to RMC’s Herb Klindt Field, which began in April 2016 and were completed in August 2016.
New Science Laboratory Building - Time lapse video of new science building construction.
Football Stadium Enhancements - Time lapse video of RMC's Football Stadium Enhancements.
Click here to see the timeline for cost and key dates.
As the first institution of higher education in Montana, Rocky Mountain College prides itself on its rich tradition of educating students to be leaders and professionals through programs focused on cultivating critical thinking, creative expression, ethical decision making, informed citizenship, and professional excellence.
With origins dating back to 1878, this institution was started by territorial settlers who wanted more for their children – they wanted a better life for future generations. Through this school of higher learning and the “School of the Open Door,” any student who was ambitious and willing to work could attend this four-year program. These students, many of whom were nearly penniless, could pay for their education by remunerative labor – they worked in pastures, gardens, and orchards during the summer in exchange for funds to pay their way through school.
Over the past 138 years, the College has grown stronger and gained momentum. Early struggles have given way to financial stability. Though RMC's scope of influence has expanded, the need for leaders is still relevant. To fulfill the vision set forth by RMC’s founders, the institution must continue to build on its history of success.
If Rocky Mountain College is to stay true to the vision of its founders, of a college that offers an excellent education for anyone who has the ability and determination to earn a degree, then the College must be diligent in providing the support and facilities that these students need and deserve.
One key to a traditional liberal arts education is a strong science program within the curricular framework. The fields of technology and healthcare, in particular, are experiencing continuous and rapid growth. As RMC has continued to attract students with strong academic credentials, the demands for expanding academic programs in the sciences, along with the need for state-of-the-art laboratory space and equipment, have increased. Not only is it important, but imperative that the College provides students and faculty with the best tools, equipment, and facilities available to continue to attract and retain students.
When RMC’s Bair Science Center opened in 1981, enrollment at the College was 371 students. Over the past 35 years, enrollment has grown by 60%. The number of RMC students majoring in the natural sciences has increased by 9.5% in the last five years.
Approximately one in four students at RMC is a science major. This means that when a prospective student comes to visit the campus, the Bair Science Center is a highlighted area of interest. However, with the current out-of-date indoor aesthetics, it is discouraging for prospective students who tour the building.
In an effort to develop well-rounded civic-minded students, Rocky Mountain College requires all students to complete a minimum of two science classes. In any given academic year, more than half of RMC’s students will be sitting in at least one science course.
Unfortunately, the out-of-date facilities and equipment is discouraging for prospective students, which creates added difficulty in recruiting students interested in pursuing scientific careers. Higher quality facilities will not only attract more students, but will make RMC a destination for top-notch faculty.
The College’s growth in recent years and increased student interest in scientific fields have constricted RMC’s resources in the sciences, resulting in a lack of sufficient laboratory space to properly teach the necessary classes.
As a top priority, the new science facility will boost the rapidly growing excitement surrounding the sciences and build a learning environment that will add to RMC’s proud liberal arts tradition. RMC will better be able to encourage students’ profound curiosity in the natural world through practical laboratory and field experience, quality classroom instruction, and innovative research opportunities. In short, the Bair Science Center needs to transition from being a liability to a highlight of campus tours – a place that fosters excitement about the sciences. There is no doubt that quality recruits quality. The new and renovated science facility will improve the quality of the students and the faculty.
The plans include updated commons areas, state-of-the-art classrooms, and an improved floor plan. In aiding with RMC’s continued efforts to promote energy conservation, the building design team included a chilled beam HVAC system within the building infrastructure. A building energy modeling (BEM) exercise has been completed, achieving an Energy Use Index (EUI) of 72; comparable lab buildings are scoring 100+ EUI.
In addition, having dedicated teaching spaces will create learning environments that meet the needs of a growing student body, and also help accelerate lab-based science instruction to a new level. The new teaching spaces will include upgraded mechanical systems that will accommodate the increased student volume, maximize the efficiency of floor plans, and boost technology that offers the best practices in instruction.
The new science facility will help encourage interdisciplinary interactions between the natural sciences and the liberal arts. There have been very few non-science classes taught in the current science building due to a lack of space. However, the new science center will help open those doors to the presence of the liberal arts by sharing similar spaces.
The project will establish research spaces in every discipline of the natural sciences, while concurrently re-energizing recruiting efforts. Once phase two of the project is completed, RMC’s Physician Assistant program will move from the one-room it currently occupies in the Fortin Education Center to more space in the new science facility. This will also help further expansion of the program that could potentially grow as large as 48 students.
This additional space also allows RMC to expand its Health and Human Performance (HHP) program, which is one of the College’s three largest disciplines. Total healthcare employment is projected to increase 19% over the next decade, much faster than the average for all other occupations, adding approximately 2.3 million new jobs. RMC’s vision includes meeting these growing needs head on with competent graduates ready to enter this ever-expanding work field. Rocky Mountain College has already begun receiving grants and funding to help build the most comprehensive research laboratory in the state – a project that is designed to improve the health and well-being of low-income patients and their families, while bridging a gap between basic human resources and a healthy community using student advocates. To help create this “Culture of Health,” RMC must lay the groundwork of higher standards, better research methods, increased internships, community outreach, and collaboration with the highly productive Physician Assistant program and science departments.
Every student at RMC studies the natural sciences and will benefit from these new and updated facilities. Every student, regardless of major, will have the opportunity to utilize these new, up-to-date learning environments.
The Bair Science Center has served RMC well since its opening in 1981. However, the time has come to give the building a much-needed update and expansion with an eye toward continued student service in the tradition of the original Bair Science Center.