Vice president for finance Daryl Bert '97 was caught by a photographer one July afternoon, wearing a hard hat and jeans as he personally checked out the progress of contruction at the Suter Science Center. The crane is adjacent to Suter's former "head room." Photo by Michael Sheeler

Extra innings needed to fix Suter Center for all purposes

When editor-in-chief Bonnie Price Lofton invited me to comment on the status of the Suter Science Campaign exactly one year ago, I opted for the venerable baseball metaphor – “we are rounding third base and heading for home!”

At that time, we needed to raise $1.6 million in new commitments to reach our goal of $7 million. Thanks to 465 wonderful EMU “diehard fans” comprised of alumni, donor friends and foundations, the goal was surpassed by this past December 31 – one year earlier than planned. This allowed for intensive renovations of our science labs (occupying the east section of Suter) to begin this spring. These will continue in three stages through August 2015.

With over $500,000 committed beyond the original campaign goal, it didn’t take long for our campaign steering committee, board members, and key donors to encourage us to “hit the ball out of the park” and plan for a second phase of fundraising so that the entire Suter Science Center would be upgraded to 21st century standards.

Thus, here we are, in “extra innings” or phase II of a $3.3 million fundraising campaign to transform the west section of Suter. Thankfully, nearly $800,000 of this goal has already been given or committed by EMU fans! Our goal now, and it’s ambitious, is to secure gifts and multi-year commitments for the balance of this project by June 30, 2015, so that renovation of Suter West can proceed seamlessly in the fall/winter of 2015.

As donors to the first phase know well, one of the major costs of the lab upgrade was the complete overhaul of Suter’s HVAC system, which had been limping along for a number of years. The renovation plan for Suter West (both lower and upper levels) naturally calls for the complete upgrade of HVAC; new sprinkler system; expansion of the Park Road entrance; and improvements to the D. Ralph Hostetter Museum of Natural Science, the Discovery Room (former planetarium), classrooms and offices.

Significant improvements are also planned for the iconic lecture hall SC106, including new seating, lighting and upgraded technology. Thanks to the energetic efforts of the Student Government Association, students hosted a live auction this past April featuring a variety of donated items from alumni and artifacts from the science center. The auction generated $21,000 to support the eventual renovation of SC106.

While our campaign “team” remains upbeat about the prospects for achieving a successful outcome to phase II of the Suter Science Campaign, we are mindful that in fundraising, as in baseball, “extra innings” can drag on and take a toll on the players involved.

To that end we are inviting EMU alumni and friends to “step up to the plate” – as they have so faithfully done in the past – and contribute their share of “singles,” “doubles,” “triples” and a home run here and there. If there’s a “grand slam” contribution waiting to be launched, that would be fine too!

For more information about the phase II renovation plans for the Suter Science Center, including naming opportunities, please visit or contact me, Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement at or at 540-432-4499.