WINONA, Minn. — It was a beautiful day to kick off a new era of science excellence.

On Oct. 9 Saint Mary’s University broke ground on an innovative $19 million Science and Learning Center on the Winona Campus.

During the sunny fall afternoon, as he addressed a crowd of about 200, Brother William Mann, president of Saint Mary’s, said he couldn’t help but be reminded of the John Denver song lyrics, “I’ve got sunshine on my shoulders.”

“It’s a special honor and privilege not just to break ground for a new building, but to break ground for a new academic building on this campus; academics is the heart and core of what a university is all about,” he said, noting that many successful Saint Mary’s science alumni have gone on to make significant contributions for the betterment of society, work that is deeply embedded in the Lasallian Catholic heritage.

“It’s entirely possible that today’s students will make tomorrow’s headlines,” added Audrey Kintzi, vice president for development and alumni relations. “So it makes me incredibly happy that we are now able to house such very important study and work in a new facility. Saint Mary’s students deserve an education that prepares them to address the needs of tomorrow, and they deserve an environment that meets their expectations, as well as their drive and determination.”

Phil Emmerich, a senior biology and biochemistry student, hopes one day to make headlines by helping find cures to the cancers that affect so many.

Emmerich served as the Saint Mary’s University Fellow at Gundersen Medical Foundation’s Kabara Cancer Research Institute in La Crosse, Wis., this past summer.

“I’m thankful for the many hands-on learning opportunities I’ve been provided,” he told the crowd. “To work in labs is absolutely vital to a science student, because science today doesn’t need people who memorize from a book. They need people who can think independently and come up with new solutions.”

Brother William said he was also reminded of the song verse by the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends,” and he expressed the university’s deep gratitude to the former students, families, friends, trustees, and benefactors who have donated $13 million in Phase I of this project.

In addition to the new building, Saint Mary’s continues to move toward a new level of academic excellence and achievement in the sciences  in other ways. This summer it acquired Cascade Meadow Wetlands and Environmental Science Center in Rochester. Most recently, a new position has been created—a new dean of sciences and health professions, overseeing both the graduate and professional schools and the undergraduate college.

The groundbreaking ceremony marked the perfect opportunity for Brother William to announce that Dr. Todd Reinhart has accepted this dean position.

Dr. Reinhart comes to Saint Mary’s from the University of Pittsburgh, where he has served multiple roles including professor of infectious diseases and microbiology, director of the Graduate School of Public Health Center for Lymphatic Immunobiology, and associate dean for faculty affairs.

“One of the things that drew me to Saint Mary’s is this administration’s desire to meet the challenges and needs of ever-evolving science programs,” Dr. Reinhart said. “Saint Mary’s is already accomplishing this by forging partnerships within the world-class health services corridor of this area; and by taking full advantage of the vast and diverse natural environment here—from these beautiful bluffs, to the Mississippi River, to the creek that flows through campus—in providing meaningful experiential educational opportunities.

“But there’s always potential to do more. I plan to examine ways to expand opportunities for students and faculty at both the graduate and undergraduate levels to engage in basic and applied research, both in the sciences and the health professions,” he said.

Housing these new experiential opportunities, the new 50,000 square-foot contemporary Science and Learning Center will attach to the existing Adducci Science Center.

Science Building

Highlights of the building include:

  • State-of-the-art classrooms and labs that will serve as optimal learning environments and provide a platform for increased research opportunities.
  • A layout specially designed to promote hands-on learning opportunities.
  • An interior atrium that will visually connect all three floors and welcome sunlight from the building’s skylights, creating ideal spaces for study and student interactions outside of the classroom.
  • A 120-seat tiered auditorium that will accommodate special events, guest speakers, and student presentations.

Wight & Company of Chicago is serving as the architect and general contractor. Construction will begin immediately after the groundbreaking, and the building is estimated to be completed by June 2017.

Breaking ground were:

  • Pat Cermak, president and COO, Wight & Company
  • Mary Burrichter, member, Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees; chair, Finance and Facilities Committee
  • Eric Doyle ’15, president, Saint Mary’s Student Senate
  • Mary Ann (Wera) Remick CST ’64, chair, Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees
  • Brother William Mann, president, Saint Mary’s
  • Sandra (Kaiser) Simon CST ’72, member, steering committee and Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees
  • Todd Reinhart, dean, Sciences and Health Professions
  • Maetzin Cruz-Reyes ’15, Biochemistry major, Saint Mary’s
  • Michael Gostomski ’62, immediate past chair, Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees
  • Jim Nagle, vice president and project executive, Wight & Company

To see more photos from the day, go to

To see a video recap of the day, go to

To watch live coverage of the construction progress, go to


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