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Ursuline Dedicates the French Family Science, Math, and Technology Center 5/7/10

More than 1,000 students, faculty, staff, volunteer leaders, donors and other friends of Ursuline Academy of Dallas gathered today at the school to celebrate the dedication of The French Family Science, Math, and Technology Center – a state-of-the-art learning environment designed to inspire creativity, collaboration, and motivation as the school prepares young women for careers in the sciences, math and world languages.

The new French Family Center demonstrates a strong commitment to both innovation and the environment on the Ursuline campus. The facility is the first classroom building in the Southwest to be certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council. This rating distinguishes the new Center as one of the most environmentally sustainable secondary educational facilities in the U.S. Read more about LEED Gold.
Design and construction of the new facility were made possible in part by a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Inc. in 2006 – the largest single contribution received in the history of the Academy – followed by a second grant of $2 million in 2007 for science, math, and technology education as part of the Academy’s strategic plan for campus renewal and growth.
Guests at the dedication ceremony heard remarks from Melinda French Gates, a graduate of the Ursuline Academy Class of 1982 and co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ms. Gates has been a major supporter of Ursuline Academy as both advisor and donor for many years, with a particular focus on the integration of technology in education.
“Since I graduated from Ursuline, I have been passionate about getting girls and women involved in science, math and technology,” said Melinda French Gates. “My vision is for this building to be an equalizer in the sciences. That is what my Ursuline education was for me.”
Attending the ceremony were Ms. Gates’ parents, Elaine and Ray French, her sister Susan French Burkhardsmeier ’81, and brothers Raymond French and Steven French. Other speakers included Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas, Sister Margaret Ann Moser O.S.U., Ursuline Academy president, Elizabeth Bourgeois, principal, and Natalie Riemer, student body president.
“The French Family Center provides our young women students with tremendous new tools for learning in the 21st century,” said Sister Margaret Ann Moser. “As we grow in knowledge, understanding, and the practice of environmental sustainability campus wide, we want to be a model and a resource for other educators in our community and around the world.”
The French Family Science, Math, and Technology Center
The 70,000-square-foot Center, designed by SmithGroup/F&S Partners of Dallas, includes 10 science laboratories, double the Academy’s previous number; 9 math classrooms and a math lab; 9 world language classrooms; and three computer science classrooms.
Space for meetings and student gatherings is much expanded, including a new KIVA assembly area that can hold over 200.The two-story atrium includes a Heritage Gallery and the restored stained glass window from the Old Ursuline Chapel, a gift from the Alumnae to the Academy in 1899. The new Faculty Center provides much-needed office space for teachers in a setting that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration. A Sustainable Science Courtyard serves as an outdoor "classroom" for students learning to be good stewards of natural resources.
The infrastructure of the new Center accommodates the Academy's current laptop technology and wireless connectivity and anticipates advances to support future curriculum needs. Launched in 1996 with support from the Gates Foundation, the Academy’s Anywhere, Anytime Learning program uses technology as a tool to enhance and accelerate the learning process. Laptop technology encourages self-directed and collaborative learning through idea and information sharing. A wireless local area network makes it possible for students to access Ursuline resources, the library, and the Internet from anywhere on campus.
Ursuline Academy
Founded in 1874, Ursuline Academy of Dallas is an independent Catholic college preparatory school for young women sponsored by the Ursuline Sisters. Total enrollment for 2009-2010 is 800 students in grades 9-12. The mission of Ursuline Academy is the total development of the individual student through spiritual formation, intellectual growth, service to others, and building of community. Ursuline Academy educates young women for leadership in a global society.