College of Science to Celebrate Champions, Naming New Building

Published: June 21, 2013 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Since its dedication in the fall of 2011, SUU’s Center for Health and Molecular Sciences has stood without a namesake. But now, in honor of its benefactors and in appreciation of their generous support, the center will take a new name on June 27, when it is officially recognized as the L.S. and Aline W. Skaggs Center for Health and Molecular Sciences.

Beginning at 3 p.m. at the corner of 300 West and 200 South, the center will be named in a special ceremony, hosted by Dean Robert Eves of the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science and Engineering.

Funded in part by a generous gift of $2 million from The ALSAM Foundation, created by and named after L.S. and Aline W. Skaggs, the center houses SUU’s acclaimed nursing program and the Frehner Natural History Museum.

“This gift has transformed the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science and Engineering and will further help our students to excel here and in their post graduate pursuits,” said SUU President Michael T. Benson.

Since its completion, the L.S. and Aline Skaggs Center for Health and Molecular Sciences has greatly enhanced opportunities for students engaged in the sciences at SUU. The state-of-the-art facility has not only accommodated outstanding experiential learning opportunities but has also served to bolster undergraduate research output—both key elements in the success of students as they pursue post-baccalaureate education or careers in the sciences.

A 42,385 square foot addition to SUU’s Science Center, the Skaggs facility contains three interactive classrooms, 10 research and teaching labs, 24 faculty offices, two undergraduate research labs, an animal care facility and an energy efficient rooftop greenhouse.

The Center’s nursing facilities, which replicate a hospital environment, are particularly outstanding and have helped to make the program one of the state’s best.  

In addition to funding support for the center’s construction, the Skaggs endowment provides for student scholarships in pre-pharmacy studies and a consistent funding stream for undergraduate research.

Enduring supporters of SUU and of the higher education community at large, the Skaggs are among the nation’s most philanthropic families.

Their most recent gift is an important component of SUU’s The Future is Rising campaign, which aims to ensure a first-class education for students of the present day and far into the future by securing partnerships and funding that are vital to the success of accomplishing the university’s mission.

Natives of southern Idaho, the Skaggs family established a legacy throughout the 20th Century with their chain of retail operations, Payless Drug Stores.

In 1950, L.S. “Sam” became the President and CEO of the 11-store enterprise, following the death of his father who conceived and developed the most significant retailing concept in the last half of the 20th century—the food/pharmacy combination store. L.S. would soon grow the family business into a retail giant—American Stores Company—which earned more than $20 billion in annual sales and employed 280,000 workers by the time of Skaggs’ retirement in 1993.

A tremendous loss felt by many, Sam passed away in March of 2013. He is survived by his wife, Aline Wilmot Skaggs, their four children, 15 grandchildren and many great grandchildren.

The contribution of the Skaggs family to modern-day, American retailing is legendary, as is their contribution to higher education. Buildings on campuses throughout the West bear the Skaggs name and countless students have benefited from their generous scholarship support.

“Thanks to these generous gifts, we will have significantly greater resources to apply to our most pressing needs,” said Dean Robert Eves. “They will bless the academic lives of students in the College for generations into the future.”

A welcome message by Dean Eves will open the naming ceremony, followed by remarks by Keziah Brown, alumna of SUU’s College of Science and Engineering. Dr. Nathan Werner, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at SUU, will speak on behalf of faculty who have so greatly benefited from the improved learning space that the Skaggs Center provides.

Special guest Susie Balukoff of the ALSAM Foundation will speak on behalf of the organization. SUU President, Michael T. Benson will also speak. Immediately following the ceremony, a reception will be held in Bradshaw Grove on the building’s north side.

Both events are open to the public. The University invites participation in this important event in SUU’s history.

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