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Officials praise science facility for its functional design

ribbon cutting at Chemistry and Physics Building
A ribbon-cutting ceremony in March marked the opening of the Chemistry and Physics Building.


Robert A. Estrada, a member of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, played two roles at the March 3 dedication of the Chemistry and Physics Building.

Estrada, who sat on the platform as a representative of the system, is also a proud Maverick parent. Daughter Marissa is a UT Arlington junior psychology major who had a chemistry class in the new facility. Before he even toured the building, he knew from Marissa’s reports that the new labs were “awesome.”

The 128,000-square-foot structure is indeed visually commanding. President James D. Spaniolo calls the building a symbol of the growth of UT Arlington as a research university and said its opening will draw attention to the chemistry and physics departments, both of which have gained international prominence. It will also be a place where many of the next generation of scientists are educated, he said.

State Sen. Chris Harris, a 21-year veteran of the Legislature who grew up near the campus, noted at the dedication that last year the state’s public universities fell short of their goal of graduating science majors by 80 percent. UT Arlington, however, exceeded its goal.

UT System Vice Chancellor for External Relations Randa S. Safady said the building is “even big by Texas standards” and a milestone that solidifies UT Arlington’s position as one of the state’s premier research universities.

UT Arlington alumnus, astronaut and retired Brig. Gen. Robert L. Stewart, the dedication’s keynote speaker, praised the building for bringing physics and chemistry research together and said he’s dismayed when people fail to see the link between disparate disciplines.

“It’s easy to accept that physics is intimately intertwined with the Math Department or the Chemistry Department, but I believe the future will see physics merging with biology and medicine to a degree envisioned only by science fiction writers in the past,” he said. “This is a university. The very word carries with it the idea of free exchange of ideas between all its departments and faculty, who thrive on finding the connections.”

The building also houses the Planetarium at UT Arlington, one of the largest and most technologically advanced planetariums in the country.

— Sue Stevens

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