Opinions, Editorials

Schiller Institute Will Advance Academics and Jesuit Mission

Boston College released new details about its plans to build the new Institute for Integrated Science and Society on Friday. The Heights first reported on the project in April.

The institute will be named for Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing and BC ’82, and his wife, Kim Gassett-Schiller. The couple have pledged a $25 million multi-year contribution to the project.

The goal of the Schiller Institute, which has been described as “BC’s Moonshot” by Vice Provost for Research and Academic Planning Tom Chiles, is to establish a cross-disciplinary, collaborative approach at the University to solving many of the world’s most complex problems, including rises in terrorism, mass migration, revolutionary and social movements, threats to cybersecurity, and pandemics.

The building will be aptly located adjacent to the Merkert Chemistry Center and Higgins Hall, likely in the current location of Cushing Hall, and will feature a 150,000 square foot facility containing new classroom, lab, and office spaces. The construction is projected to cost $150 million, and over $100 million has already been raised, according to a University press release. The total investment in the sciences is $300 million.

The Schiller Institute represents an important and exciting addition to the University. STEM majors will have the opportunity to explore a variety of new academic subjects such as integrated and applied science, global health, and design thinking, and benefit from collaboration with other departments at the intersection of technology, engineering, and entrepreneurship. The University plans to hire engineering faculty and establish an engineering department, according to bc.edu.

In the addition of new courses in the sciences, students will likely have more options in fulfilling their Natural Science core requirements, contributing to BC’s mission as a liberal arts university to produce well-rounded students. New courses brought by the Schiller Institute will also be a part of BC’s Complex Problems and Enduring Questions program, which offers interdisciplinary courses for freshmen that also fulfill core requirements.

The Schiller Institute will house the University’s computer science department, and will provide additional resources for the program. Computer science is the fastest-growing field of study at the University, and has been recently seeking faculty and resources in order to expand.

Not only will the Schiller Institute academically enrich the University, but it will also serve as a way for BC to rise in national school rankings. This should also help in BC’s recruiting efforts for science-minded students. The Schiller Institute will create new research opportunities at BC and help the University attract high-caliber faculty in the sciences, important factors that contribute to the University’s rank. The institute will likely also help attract students interested in studying applied and integrated sciences, and how these fields can be used in solving some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Finally, the Schiller Institute represents a commitment to the University’s Jesuit mission of educating students in the importance of serving others. The institute will focus on research related to finding solutions to worldwide challenges, such as alleviating poverty, preventing the spread of disease, and global water supply. By expanding the sciences at the University in a way that is directed toward addressing important issues facing mankind, the Schiller Institute will improve BC’s academic quality and also further its stated mission.

Featured Image by Meg Dolan / Heights Editor

November 5, 2017

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