Prominent speakers, events mark Integrated Science Facility's opening

GENESEO, N.Y. - On Thursday Nov. 9 and Friday Nov. 10, Geneseo's newest building, the Integrated Science Facility (ISF) had its official opening ceremonies.

The events included speeches and tours to show the importance of science and the benefits of integration across science disciplines. The commencement culminated on Friday with the keynote speaker Dr. John H. Marburger, President Bush's science advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Marburger's speech had an unexpectedly high turnout and was moved from Newton 204 to Newton 202, a larger lecture room. Even so, many people were forced to stand for the duration of the speech. Though they were not prominent, signs quietly protesting Marburger's speech could be seen along one side of the room. The signs displayed phrases such as "Stop Global Warming" and "Scientists Agree: Take Action Now."

A more vocal protest took place outside of Newton Hall during Marburger's speech. According to eyewitness accounts, the protesters started a good distance from Newton, but slowly made their way toward the building until they were directly outside the door. Due to the overcrowding in Newton's hallways, the doors were left open. At times, the protesters yelled so loudly that they drowned out Marburger's speech for those just inside the doors, but not in the lecture hall. The protesters included students of the College and members of the Geneseo community.

Geneseo President Christopher Dahl introduced Marburger. Dahl noted that although Marburger specializes in non-linear optic physics, he "supports all sciences and believes strongly in the teaching of conducting of science."

Marburger began his speech by thanking Dahl and noting Geneseo as "a paradigm of high quality education for undergraduate work." He continued to compliment the new building and the institution's goal to "broaden the concept of what interdisciplinary work means." Marburger emphasized that "It is a mistake to label people away as 'not scientists.' There are many different styles within science."

Marburger's speech continued with several anecdotes based on stories of personal experience. He kept the speech very nonpolitical, but did mention, "The United States Constitution does not give the federal government a role for education. Change must occur at the state level."

Marburger complimented the ISF as "cleverly designed to get people in the right mood to study science."

Following his speech, Marburger spoke with several Geneseo administrators and shook the hands of many Geneseo students that approached him.

Originally from Staten Island, Marburger studied physics and applied physics at both Princeton and Stanford. He was the third president of SUNY Stony Brook from 1980-1994, and in 1998 served as director of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

In addition to Marburger's role as a keynote speaker, Linda Rayor, an assistant professor of entomology and senior research associate at Cornell University, spoke on Thursday. Her speech, "A Romance with Spiders," which fascinated many Geneseo students and faculty members, dealt with the mating and reproductive habits of spiders. Said sophomore biology student Aspen Ainsworth, "I would give her speech a 9.5 out on 10 - I loved it even though I'm not really into spiders. I never realized how many spider species there are. I couldn't believe that there are more jumping spider species than mammal species."

Rayor's speech was followed by guided tours of the ISF. Later that day speaker Eugenie C. Scott from the National Center for Science Education spoke about evolution as a controversial piece of scholastic curriculum in a speech entitled "Evolution Across the Science Curriculum" in the Geneseo Union Ballroom.

During Thursday's speeches and tours, the Lockhart Gallery at the McClellan House held an exhibition entitled "The Art of Science: Artists whose Inspiration is the Sciences."