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Couple's gift will improve Wilson's science center

February 27, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A $10 million gift from longtime Wilson College supporters will, in large part, make an overhaul of the school's science center possible, college officials said Monday.

Wilson College President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson announced the gift from Harold F. "Gerry" and Marguerite Lenfest during the board of trustees' semiannual meeting this weekend, said John Scarffe, Wilson's communications director.

The contribution - which matches a donation made in 2000 as the largest single gift in the school's history - will be used to renovate the Havens Science Center and build a 25,000-square-foot, two-story addition to it, according to a press release.

The addition will create new classrooms and laboratories as well as a greenhouse and central atrium.

Wireless Internet access, a natural history museum and environmentally friendly building methods bring the complex's price tag to $25 million.

The current plan is to "support the programs and majors we do have with the facility," Scarffe said.

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"Plans are for ground to be broken around August of 2007," Scarffe said of the 15-month project.

Marguerite Lenfest, a 1955 psychology alumna, was quoted in the press release as saying that "science education for women has never been more important."

"Gerry and I are pleased that we were able to step forward for this wonderful opportunity and hope that ours is just the first of many more gifts," she said.

Wilson has 350 students in its College for Women and more than 400 participants in its coed continuing education program for adults 24 years old and older, Scarffe said.

Nearly every student takes a science course through curriculum requirements, school officials said.

The sciences complex was first planned in the 2003-04 academic year, Scarffe said. Known donors are being identified and contacted about raising the balance of the project, he said.

Edmundson called the Lenfests "valuable donors at crucial times during the recent history of the college." The Huntingdon Valley, Pa., couple are the namesake of the school's Lenfest Commons, a gathering and studying facility in the heart of the campus.

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