UMSL science complex

UMSL's science complex comprises five buildings, including Benton Hall and Stadler Hall. A Peabody Energy gift announced Sept. 11 will enhance two existing labs – one in Benton and the other in Stadler. (Photo by August Jennewein)

A modern work force needs a modern learning environment. That environment is exactly what the University of Missouri–St. Louis strives to offer its students, said Chancellor Tom George.

Thanks to a $750,000 gift from St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, two existing UMSL science labs will be renovated and equipped with up-to-date technology. One of the labs is in Benton Hall, and the other is in Stadler Hall. The financial infusion will create the Peabody Environmental Engineering Laboratory and the Peabody Physics Laboratory.

The company’s gift was announced Sept. 11, and the gift was the last one booked toward UMSL’s Gateway for Greatness Campaign – a seven-year effort that attracted more than $154 million in private funding. The campaign ended June 30.

“Nothing beats hands-on lab experience for students, particularly those majoring in the science, technology, engineering and math areas important to Missouri’s life sciences industry,” George said. “The labs are heavily used by students, and the need to renovate them is dire.”

With a combined age of nearly 100 years, Benton and Stadler halls are among the oldest structures on campus, built in 1964 and 1967 respectively. They’re central to the education of all UMSL students, but the buildings are of particular importance to the 1,500 students who study in the STEM disciplines, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Peabody invests in the education of the next generation because we believe an educated society is key to building stronger, safer and healthier communities,” said Greg Boyce, chairman and chief executive officer of Peabody Energy. “Our investment in UMSL recognizes the university as one of our region’s most valuable assets in delivering quality STEM education at a reasonable cost. The renovations of these laboratories are important for our region, and they’re important for our future work force.”

The Peabody Environmental Engineering Laboratory will accommodate next-generation technology, giving students and faculty members a leg up in the field.

And the Peabody labs will complement UMSL’s overall effort to upgrade Benton and Stadler, which are part of the university’s main science complex on North Campus. University officials are considering a plan to issue more than $30 million in bonds to build a 75,000-square-foot addition to the complex and renovate 17,000 square feet of existing space.

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez