By Kärin Raddock
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced several grants it recently awarded, including one for $3 million to FSU for the completion of the Hemenway Science Building renovations, on Tuesday in the Henry Whittemore Library.
The MLSC is an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development and commercialization.
According to http://www.masslifesciences.com, “MLSC is an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development and commercialization. The MLSC is charged with implementing a 10-year, $1-billion, state-funded investment initiative. ”President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Susan Windham-Bannister said a major priority for the Life Sciences Center is to invest in the training of the next generation of life sciences talent, and that grants like the one awarded to FSU “will support and expand the workforce-development-training capacity here in MetroWest.”
FSU Interim President Robert Martin said the grant is “really a shot in the arm to the university.” He explained that FSU has worked to generate the funds needed for the science building expansion and renovation, and that the state has also provided for the project, but “despite our best efforts, as we got to the design phase, the project seemed to shrink and shrink and shrink as we had to take account of the reality of escalating costs.”
Executive Vice President of Administration, Finance and Information Technology Dale Hamel explained in an email that there was a $12.3 million funding gap for the approximately $84 million project.
According to Hamel, the original cost estimates of the project didn’t fully account for “significant costs” later realized after the general contractor began work, and additionally, construction costs have escalated since the original estimates were made.
Because of the $3 million from the MLSC and an additional $9.3 million provided by the state in December, that gap is covered.
“Without that $12.3 million, we could not have been able to undertake the planned renovations in Hemenway Hall and Annex,” said Hamel.
Martin said the support from the MLSC allows FSU to fulfill “what initially had been envisioned for the project.”
The University is now able to complete the science building expansion and also retrofit a “substantial number” of Hemenway Hall’s original labs and classrooms, thanks to the funds provided by the MLSC, according to Martin.
Martin said, “2014 marks the 175th anniversary of Framingham State University, which was founded as thefi]rst public institution in the country for the preparation of teachers. ... I can’t think of a better present to start the year than a $3 million grant.”
In addition to the $3 million grant awarded to FSU, MassBay Community College was awarded a $50,000 planning grant to develop a strategic action plan for its Applied Life Sciences and Technology Center, which will be built as part of the school’s new downtown Framingham campus.
Three MetroWest high schools were also authorized to receive equipment and supply grants from the MLSC. They include Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, which received $40,000, Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School and Waltham High School, which received $100,000 each.
These schools plan to use the funds to strengthen their science and engineering programs in order to prepare students for jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.