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Observatory dome tops Herty Hall

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October 19, 2010

It looks like the top of a grain silo and weighs as much as a pickup.

It rotates 360 degrees and opens to the heavens. And it offers identity.  

It’s a 15-foot-high, corrugated aluminum dome lifted by crane to the top of a new observatory, three stories up as part of the $3.4 million, 17,000-square-foot expansion of Herty Hall, the science facility at Georgia College.

“There’s no mistaking now where the science building is located,” said Dr. Ken McGill, chair of the
chemistry, physics and astronomy department. “This building and observatory should help get people excited about science.”

Amid the cheers and applause of President Dorothy Leland and faculty, staff and students, workers positioned the dome Thursday at the top of the circular, silo-look-alike observatory anchoring the southeast corner of the addition.

The observatory required independent footings unmarried to the building to house a telescope for astronomy students.

“The observatory will be an asset both for our students and for the community,” said Dr. Leland. “In addition to its use in teaching and research, the observatory will offer times for the public to observe the planets and stars through our

The Herty Hall addition will house science laboratories, classrooms and offices for biology and environmental science, as well as chemistry, physics and astronomy.

“We want to give our students the best education and experiences in science that we can,” said Ken Procter, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Biology tops the College of Arts and Sciences as the most popular major with about 540 students, and
chemistry has grown to 160 majors at Georgia College.

“Biology is a large contributor to the basic science requirement in our core curriculum that serves all our students,” Procter said, with chemistry and environmental science also contributing classes for non-science majors.

Georgia College recruited 17 freshman physics majors this semester, doubling the previous year’s total for the new program. An additional 20 freshman physics majors are anticipated to enroll next fall.

The opportunities the addition and renovation offers to potential students will help with recruiting efforts,
McGill said.  

“It’s an impressive sight and exemplifies the university’s commitment to educating students in the sciences,” he said.

Georgia College broke ground on the Herty Hall expansion in November 2009. Completion is expected by February 2011.

Plans are to join the addition to the existing building in December while students are on break between
semesters, said Georgia College Project Manager Donnie Beasley.

Dublin Construction Company is building the project designed by Scott Barber of Lott Barber Architects of Savannah.

“This is a very unique structure,” said company project manager Byron Waters. “It’s a good project — one I’m happy to be a part of. It’s not something we get to build every day.”

Built in 1954 as The Science Hall, the building became the Charles H. Herty Science Hall in 1956 to memorialize the inventor best known for developing a method to collect tree resin using a metal cap and sparing the tree’s life.

Born in a house located on what is now Georgia College front campus in 1867, Herty also headed a Savannah laboratory that focused on the conversion of pine pulp to newsprint. In March 1933, the first newspaper to use paper created with the Herty process was printed.

Herty Hall previously underwent a renovation in the 1970s and was rededicated in 2002 after a $5
million renovation to enhance the science programs.

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ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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