A&M Breaks Ground on Physics Buildings
by JOSH BAUGH
COLLEGE STATION — Texas A&M broke ground Wednesday for two “signature buildings” that will be the first structures built in the university’s $300 million campus construction plan.
The $57 million George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy and the George P. Mitchell ’40 Physics Building will help A&M recruit some of the top scientists in the world, officials said at the on-site celebration attended by several dozen people.
“The construction of these buildings is another example of the commitment to excellence in all that we do here at Texas A&M University,” President Robert Gates said.
The main benefactors for the complex off Ireland Street just west of the Jack E. Brown Building are its namesakes. George Mitchell, a 1940 graduate of A&M, is known as one of the university’s “most fervent supporters.” Before the $35 million gift from the Mitchells to build the physics and astronomy complex, the couple provided major funding for the A&M outdoor tennis center, also named after Mitchell, and they donated 135 acres on Pelican Island to the university’s Galveston campus.
The Mitchells’ donations also have made it possible for A&M to join the Giant Magellan Telescope Consortium, which will allow scientists to see deeper into space than ever before.
Mitchell said at the celebration that he wanted to give back to the university that educated him. The 150,000-square-foot complex will house laboratories, classrooms, offices and an auditorium.
“Dr. Gates, your theories of what you’re trying to do for A&M is very important,” Mitchell said. “We’re proud to be a part of it.”
Gates said the ceremony marked a “momentous occasion” for Texas A&M University.
“When [the buildings] are completed, they will be a testament not only to the enormous generosity of the Mitchells, they will be a testament to the caliber and vision of our faculty here at Texas A&M,” he said.
Gates and Chancellor Bob McTeer both said they were committed to seeing through to completion many of the university’s construction projects now on the drawing board.
Joe Newton, dean of the College of Science, said that A&M and the system’s board of regents, have “drastically changed the process by which buildings at A&M are built.”
“Now, hopefully, not too much more than a year from now, the institute building will be right here where we are sitting,” Newton said.
On Friday, A&M will break ground on a $95 million life sciences building.
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