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Autumn 2004 | Volume 27, Number 4 | Campus

Otto Miller Hall: Renovation Creates Sophisticated New Home for SPU Scientists

AT THE SEPTEMBER 22 dedication of Otto Miller Hall at Seattle Pacific University, the printed program posed the question, “Who said the sciences are dry?” alongside a playful photo of a bicycle-riding Albert Einstein. After all, SPU’s celebration — a fun-filled street fair with live jazz and a heavy helping of Seattle rain — was anything but dry.

The event marked the end of a yearlong, $5.4-million renovation of the former Miller Science Learning Center (MSLC), transforming the building into a state-of-the-art facility with new classrooms and research labs dedicated to the “dry sciences”: the disciplines of physics, electrical engineering, mathematics, and computer science.

Once a repair “barn” for the Seattle trolley system in the 1930s, the structure was acquired by Seattle Pacific years later and turned into an award-winning facility for science education in 1975. By the outset of the 21st century, however, it clearly needed an overhaul. “We were beginning to burst at the seams in the old building,” explains Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Bruce Congdon.

In a significant commitment to the sciences, Seattle Pacific constructed a new building for the “wet sciences” of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and psychology, then turned its attention to renovating the MSLC. “We renovated this facility with a vision for student learning, so that it could become a new place of discovery and inquiry,” says Congdon. “That’s the legacy we want to continue.”

Along with a fresh interior and state-of-the-art technology, the facility also received a new name: Otto Miller Hall, which again honors the late Professor of Physics Otto Miller, whose moniker has become synonymous with excellence in the sciences at Seattle Pacific. As SPU President Philip Eaton spoke at the dedication ceremony, several of Miller’s descendants, including his daughter, looked on. “I am thankful to Otto Miller’s family as we rededicate this facility in his name,” said Eaton.

“Dr. Miller really cared about young people and the vision of this institution,” said Leonard Root ’50, a past SPC student body president who attended the dedication ceremony with his wife, Edith Root ’49.

It was a day that honored both the past and the future, Eaton emphasizes. “We are grounded by a vision for excellence in the sciences,” he says. “This kind of investment in our facilities will allow our programs and our students to flourish.”

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From the President
In 2000, Seattle Pacific intensified its commitment to racial reconciliation. Is it possible, asks Philip Eaton, for SPU to discover ways to tear down walls that divide?

In Trust for the Future
Charitable trusts are benefiting students and donors. One couple, in fact, has seen their trust provide income for them, while supporting student scholarships. [Campaign]

A Fabulous Time to Be Alive
Astronomy is revealing never-before-seen wonders. “We are in the process of discovering a God far greater than we’ve ever imagined,” says Professor Emeritus Karl Krienke. [Faculty]

Putting a Face on Homelessness
Two young alums are at Seattle’s Bread of Life Mission, helping to restore lives — by replacing hopelessness with hope. [Alumni]

Life Stories
A filmmaker talks about his visits with SPU students and his project to share the internment stories of Japanese Americans during World War II. [Books & Film]

Mutual Inspiration
Falcon men’s and women’s soccer teams cheered each other on to success in 2004, as both teams continued the University’s tradition of being a national force in soccer. [Athletics]

My Response
For Sharon Hartnett, assistant professor of education, diversity reflects a piece of heaven on earth. “After all, heaven is a multicultural place,” she says.