Fondren-Jones Science Center

The center for STEM on campus has had many different lives as a building, which parallels to the evolving role of scientific education at a Methodist-affiliated university

Southwestern University prides itself on being one of the oldest universities in Texas, and with such a longstanding history the school has evolved and reshaped itself (both physically and in regards to ideology) to meet the needs and challenges called upon them. One of the places where you can feel this the most is in the Fondren Jones Science Center (FJS). In this excerpt I will detail the timeline of the different renovations to FJS as well as relate it to other places where science was taught over the years, including the first floor of Cullen Building (which has not housed science departments for many years) and the Williamson County Science Building (which no longer exists–it used to be near where the Chapel is now).

Science as a discipline on the campus of Southwestern today is widely accepted as being of high standard for a school of our size, with SU students having many opportunities to work with state of the art equipment and collaborate with peers and mentors alike in order to further expand and challenge current ideas in the field. An example of such equipment includes the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging Instrument, which is used for identifying chemical structures. How did the University reach the current point of acclaim? To answer this question we will have to look back by looking around, meaning that we need to make sense of how FJS is both new and old at the same time.

Anyone walking through Fondren-Jones today will sense that it has sections that were built at different times. I will outline those in a moment, but first I want to remind people that before Fondren Jones, there was the Williamson County Science Building, which was located near where Lois Perkins Chapel currently sits. And before that, science classrooms, offices, and labs were located on the first floor of the Cullen Building (then called the Main Building, or the Administration Building). Please see associated Placing Memory entries at those locations.

In 1951 the campus began preparations for a new science building, Fondren Science Hall. By 1954, construction of Fondren Science Hall was completed and ready for classes.

Further renovation of FJS (Fondren-Jones Science Hall) was not mentioned again until an announcement in the January 1995 issue of The Megaphone, which stated that refurbishment of FJS would be included in the campus wide renovations for the Vision 2000 plan (the same plan that resulted in the Olin Building and Lords Apartments). Completion of the expansion was unveiled in April 1999.

The last round of renovations done on FJS began in 2016 with ‘Phase 1,” which expanded the science center by 25,000 sq. ft. and brought in valuable equipment such as the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center. The completion of ‘Phase ll’ was unveiled in fall of 2019 and further pushed the bounds of learning, bringing it into the form that students know today. Along with ‘Phase ll’ came various and diverse settings for students to learn such as outdoor classrooms, multiple lecture rooms and laboratories, and conference rooms.

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Lainey Gutierrez '25, “Fondren-Jones Science Center,” Placing Memory, accessed July 24, 2024, https://placingmemory.southwestern.edu/items/show/65.