STEAM complex named for benefactor breaks new ground.
Ground will break in May on the newly named Schoenecker Center, St. Thomas‘ long-planned STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) complex. Named in honor of Guy and Barbara Schoenecker, the five-level center will open its doors in 2024.
The 130,000-plus square foot Schoenecker Center will house dedicated spaces for the arts, engineering and sciences and several open spaces meant to facilitate collaboration and creative collisions. There will be engineering high bays and science labs, as well as musical performance and rehearsal spaces and an art gallery. It will also include an emerging media newsroom, St. Thomas’ Centers for Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Water Justice, and robotics labs.
“What research is telling us, what our industry partners are telling us, is that they need graduates who have broad knowledge, who are flexible thinkers, and who are used to working with different fields and different ideas,“ President Julie Sullivan told donors at November‘s annual Archbishop John Ireland Dinner, where the center‘s new name was announced.
“The Schoenecker Center is truly new and innovative,” she added. “It is where higher education is going – where it needs to go – and we are so excited to be on the leading edge.”
The $100 million state-of-the-art complex will also redefine the university’s look along Summit Avenue, where it will adjoin the O‘Shaughnessy Science Hall, home to several engineering, math and science departments. Designed with input from various corporate industry partners, the center will foster more collaboration among students who otherwise may not have worked together in a typical university setting. It will also provide learning, meeting and performance spaces for local K-12 schools and community organizations.
Lisa Anderson of the Schoeneckers Foundation is the daughter of the late Barbara and Guy Schoenecker. Her father was the founder of BI Worldwide and graduated from St. Thomas in 1949 with a philosophy and political science degree. Anderson, who followed in her dad‘s footsteps to serve on the St. Thomas Board of Trustees, said, “The integration of the arts and STEM education will be a game-changer by infusing a new level of creativity and a deep sense of the aesthetic in all that we do.“
Fundraising continues for the Schoenecker Center, which will be the university‘s first new academic building since McNeely Hall in 2006. Several signature naming opportunities are available throughout the building.