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UT Celebrates Opening of Communication, Science Building

Published: October 13, 2008

The Cass Building, UT’s newest academic facility, will be celebrated with a grand opening on Friday, Oct. 17, at 3 p.m. on the University of Tampa campus. The Cass Building houses science, communication and art classrooms, offices and laboratories, as well as a gymnasium.

There will be a short program in the Cass courtyard, refreshments will be served, and live science, communication and art demonstrations will be held throughout the building.

In 2002, UT took over the 50,000-square-foot building from Tampa Preparatory School and has spent the last six years, and more than $13 million, transforming the building into essentially a new structure.

Today it will serve as the academic home to more than 1,000 students majoring or minoring in the sciences, communication or art.

The science wing, completed in 2007, encompasses 30,000 square feet and houses chemistry, biology, biochemistry, forensic science and environmental and marine sciences.

More than $1.5 million in scientific equipment and instrumentation has been invested in the 20 scientific laboratories, including a liquid chromatograph tandem mass spectrometer for biochemical and forensics research and a nuclear magnetic resonance instrument for chemistry research. In a unique move, the teaching labs were set adjacent to research labs to facilitate faculty-student research opportunities.

Steve Kucera, interim dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences, said that since faculty participated in the design of our laboratories, their functionality was maximized.

“These outstanding spaces and associated instrumentation and equipment provide exceptional laboratory-based learning environments for our students,” Kucera said.

Renovation of the approximately 20,000-square-foot communication wing, which includes an annex building, was completed in August for fall communication and art classes. It includes two screening rooms, six computer labs (writing, graphic design, advanced edit suite, production, open and media), a film equipment cage, black box theater for film and video productions, a production studio, sound edit suite and TV control room that ties into the production studio. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of new equipment was integrated into the space.

Don Morrill, interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said the space and the technology puts UT in a league with other communication departments at larger universities.

“Our communication and arts curricula have always been very strong,” Morrill said. “Now that we have the ‘wow’ technology and facilities, our teaching opportunities are practically limitless.”

All classrooms and laboratories include smart technology, and the entire building is wireless. Energy saving features incorporated in the building include chilled water air conditioning, energy efficient lighting systems and two-phase switching.

The Cass Building also includes a gymnasium that is used primarily for the UT intramural program.