By James DeGooyer, major gifts officer, College of Science
University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins and College of Science Dean Henry S. White, along with Gary and Ann Crocker, will celebrate the opening of the new Gary and Ann Crocker Science Center on Presidents Circle. The dedication will be held on April 20, 2018, at 2 p.m. and is open to all members of the U community, the public and the media.
Housed in the historic and newly renovated George Thomas Building, the Crocker Science Center will be the new home to the Henry Eyring Center for Cell and Genome Science, the Center for Science and Math Education, modern classrooms and laboratories for interdisciplinary science and math education, and a technology incubator space.
Gary and Ann Crocker provided a personal lead gift of $10 million toward the renovation and expansion of the George Thomas Building.
“Ann and I are confident that this science center will be an engine of creativity that will bless and enrich the lives of Utahans for generations to come,” Gary Crocker said. “It isn’t often that a facility is created that will have such a tremendous impact on the entire university community, with interdisciplinary instruction, research and commercialization focus areas throughout this historic building. We applaud the University of Utah for its leadership and vision in establishing this national center of STEM excellence.”
The project also received $34 million from the state of Utah, as well as generous donations from additional benefactors, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, Kirk Ririe and Mary Jane O’Connor-Ririe, Harris Simmons and Amanda Pahnke Simmons, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Lawrence T. & Janet T. Dee Foundation, The Semnani Family Foundation, Dinesh and Kalpana Patel, Grandeur Peak Global Advisors and numerous other friends of the College of Science.
The Crocker Science Center will have three main purposes: research, education and commerce. The research component will draw on faculty and students from all four departments in the college — biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics and astronomy — to study the basic machinery of living cells. The educational component will provide undergraduate students with abundant laboratory opportunities, smaller classrooms and regular interaction with faculty. A commercial “incubator” will bring scientists in the College together with people in local industry to develop ideas with commercial potential.
“This modern science hub is ready to serve new generations of students, faculty, and staff at the University of Utah,” says Henry S. White, dean of the College of Science. “We are extremely grateful for Gary and Ann’s pioneering support for this building to become a world-class science education and research center on campus.”
University classes started in the Crocker Science Center on Jan. 8, 2018, for spring semester. The building now contains 10 flexible classrooms, including two large teaching spaces in the historic Great Hall. Each of the Great Hall classrooms can accommodate more than 100 students. In addition, a total of seven new teaching laboratories are available to students.
Observational research requires a wide range of specialized devices, precision instruments, and controlled spaces. The Crocker Science Center features state-of-the-art microscopes and observation rooms, supporting many research initiatives at the U.
These core facilities will address the diverse needs of research faculty across the University campus. Scientists in physical science, life science, medicine and engineering will find use for these important tools.
A newly acquired $5.9 million high-resolution cryo-transmission electron microscope (cryo-TEM) was installed in December 2017 and is one focal point of research instrumentation in the building. The cryo-TEM will allow researchers to observe and construct images of three-dimensional structures of important biomolecules with atomic resolution, providing insights into their biological functions in humans.
“This technology will provide unprecedented views into the workings of cellular nano-machines, which is essential to understand the architecture and function of cells,” says Markus Babst, interim director of the Henry Eyring Center for Cell and Genome Science.
Gary and Ann Crocker
Gary Crocker has been recognized locally and nationally for his successful business pursuits in life science companies over a career that spans more than four decades. The Crockers’ donation stems from proceeds of four science-based companies in which Gary Crocker has either been a founder and operator or early investor and principal, including heart surgery device firm Research Medical which was sold to Edwards Life Sciences.
Gary Crocker’s career extends to all areas of the life science industry, including developing groundbreaking medical devices, diagnostics and pharmaceuticals. He currently serves as president of the life science investment firm he founded, Crocker Ventures, and as chairman of Boston-based cancer research firm Merrimack Pharmaceuticals and Utah-based medical implant developer Nexus Spine. Gary Crocker is a member of the College of Science Hall of Fame and has a long history of service to the university as a member of the University Hospital Board and University of Utah Research Foundation Board, as well as co-chair of the University of Utah Board of Trustees. His previous donations include funding the Crocker Science House on Officers Circle in Fort Douglas and the Crocker Science Internship Scholarship. He has twice been named Utah Entrepreneur of the Year.
Ann Crocker, a graduate of the University of Utah, serves as a board member of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and is a long-time supporter and donor to the Utah Youth Village.