Montana State University

MSU breaks ground for Gaines Hall renovations

May 21, 2008 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

MSU Provost David Dooley, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, and MSU President Geoff Gamble, from left, prepare to break the ground for Gaines Hall renovations at Montana State University. (MSU photo by Kelly Gorham).   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
Rain moved the speeches indoors, but it couldn't dampen the enthusiasm Wednesday at a groundbreaking ceremony for upcoming renovations to Gaines Hall at Montana State University.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, MSU President Geoff Gamble and MSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dave Dooley each said the extensively-remodeled building will help prepare current and future students to change the world. Gamble and Dooley thanked Schweitzer and the Montana Legislature for making the renovations possible. The renovation was allocated $28.5 million in 2007 and is expected to be completed in May 2010. The officials then moved briefly outdoors, donning hard hats and carrying shovels, to overturn dirt in front of the building along Grant Street.

"It's the first step to realizing a dream that a lot of you shared for a long time," Gamble said.

Schweitzer said the project is an investment in the future and upcoming scientists and engineers in Generation Y.

"If we invest in them, they will be the greatest generation in the history of this country," Schweitzer said.

Dooley said he heard about the need to do something about Gaines Hall even before coming to MSU in 1993. When he interviewed for head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, students and faculty alike told him about its shortcomings.

Gaines Hall, built in 1961, was named after P.C. Gaines who worked 43 years in the chemistry department, was a master teacher and served four times as acting president of MSU.

"We are terrifically honored to be standing in his shadow," Dooley said.

Since its construction, Gaines Hall has been home to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and "thousands upon thousands of students," Gamble continued. It's one of the most intensely-used buildings on campus and will continue to be. The renovated building will provide a modern instructional environment, address past maintenance issues and greatly increase energy efficiency, Gamble said.

David Singel, current head of the department and chair of the Gaines Hall renovation committee, said previously that workers will take Gaines Hall down to the floors and vertical columns. Over the next two years, they will rebuild Gaines to house instructional labs for undergraduate students in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, earth sciences, and physics. The building will also hold the modern language department with its language laboratories, the Center for Student Success, and seven new classrooms, including a new 270-person lecture theatre.

Chemistry laboratory courses given in Gaines Hall will continue to be offered in various locations on campus during the renovation, Singel said. Organic chemistry labs are being held in the new Chemistry and Biochemistry Building. General chemistry labs are held in new modular buildings near the Chemistry and Biochemistry Building. All of these labs will move back to Gaines when the renovations are completed.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or