There is a $3 million gift to help fund the construction of a new STEM building for the University of North Georgia: the facility, planned for UNG’s campus in Dahlonega, gets the donation from the alums Stewart and Carol Swanson, who graduated in the mid-1980s from what would become the University of North Georgia. The new building will replace one that has been on the campus in Lumpkin County since 1948.
From Denise Ray, UNG…
The University of North Georgia has officially received its first major gift for the new STEM building at the Dahlonega Campus from alumni Stewart Swanson, ‘85, and Carol Barnette Swanson, ‘86. The Swansons’ $3 million gift marks a major step toward UNG’s vision for a state-of-the-art STEM facility, also known as the STEM Excellence Center.
“In today’s rapidly growing economy, our region and state need college graduates who have a strong foundation in science, who can integrate information across disciplines, and who are critical thinkers and problem-solvers,” President Michael P. Shannon said. “This new facility is a top priority to serve future STEM students, and we are deeply grateful to Stewart and Carol Swanson for supporting our mission.”
The new STEM Excellence Center will replace Rogers Hall, which was built in 1948 and currently houses the physics and chemistry departments. The STEM Excellence Center will deliver the highest quality active-learning environment possible, which is essential to UNG’s plans to fully implement an innovative transdisciplinary STEM curriculum that allows all STEM students to work collaboratively across scientific disciplines in new flexible classrooms, laboratories and research areas.
A computer science graduate, previous ROTC cadet and now a recently retired technology sales executive, Stewart Swanson chairs the STEM Advisory Board for UNG’s College of Science & Mathematics and serves on the Board of Trustees for the UNG Foundation.
“UNG President Owen handed me a sheepskin baton in 1985, and I used it to successfully run 37 laps around the sun for my sole benefit. With the UNG relay race now on its 150th trip around the sun, Carol and I proudly hand off our golden batons back to UNG President Shannon as he and his team run Bold Forward to hand sheepskin batons to 18,500 deserving UNG students solely for their benefit and their future success. We are pleased to give back to UNG that which they gave to us first,” Swanson said.
More than a quarter of entering UNG freshmen are STEM majors, and the new facility will be designed to anchor UNG’s program delivering transdisciplinary teaching and intentional communities of STEM majors, according to Dr. John Leyba, dean of the College of Science & Mathematics.
“We strongly feel UNG’s student-first approach, interdisciplinary learning vision, and the focus on STEM aligns well with the university’s stellar reputation for cost-effectively preparing students for their chosen professional careers or graduate education. We believe all these future graduates will enter a world now dependent on science, data and technology-related knowledge and skill sets,” Swanson said. “Additionally, UNG will now be able to ensure that future military, Georgia National Guard, civic leaders, and medical professionals — upon whom our safety and livelihood depends — are also well prepared for the advanced science and technology dependencies. I encourage corporate and individual donors to join UNG, Carol and myself with this awesome endeavor, and together let’s make this happen.”
Thanks in part to the Swansons’ gift and those of other donors, the Board of Regents included design funds for UNG’s STEM Excellence Center on its capital project request list for consideration by the legislature this year.
“Stewart Swanson has dedicated many years to the UNG STEM Advisory Board, and through his efforts, we have been able to move forward at a pace that I thought was not possible,” Leyba said. “The University of North Georgia and the College of Science & Mathematics are extremely grateful for this very generous gift, and we look forward to working with Stewart and Carol Swanson on the project.”
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