ASMSA holds groundbreaking ceremony for new academic building

1 year ago

The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts held a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 25 for the Creativity and Innovation Complex, the first academic building to be constructed on campus since the school opened in 1993.

The Creativity and Innovation Complex will offer space for computer science, music, innovation and digital arts classrooms. Construction on the $4.7 million project is expected to being in September. Friday’s ceremony also honored donors who have made significant gifts toward the CIC and the school.

The first floor of the CIC will be named in honor of Dan Fredinburg, an alumnus from the Class of 1999. The Dan Fredinburg Technology Center will offer space for computer science classrooms, a digital arts lab, networks infrastructure and the admissions office. It will also house the Dan Lab, which will include a maker space and computer science laboratory.

The Fredinburg Technology Center and innovation lab are possible through combined gifts of more than $175,000 from The Dan Fredinburg Foundation, Fredinburg family members and friends, and friends of the school. Fredinburg was the head of privacy for Google X, the research and development arm for Google, at the time of his death while climbing Mt. Everest in April 2015.

The second floor will include a community meeting space that will be able to hold the entire school population. It will be the first time there will be a meeting space large enough to hold the entire school population on campus.

The Community Center will be named in honor of the Oaklawn Foundation. The foundation uses funds it receives from Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs to fund programs and scholarships that benefit Garland County students and senior citizens. The foundation pledged ASMSA a $300,000 grant toward the construction of the CIC in December 2016. It is the largest single gift in ASMSA’s history.

The second floor also will include a classroom and rehearsal space for ASMSA’s band and choir programs.

ASMSA also received a $500,000 General Improvement Fund grant from Gov. Asa Hutchinson during the 90th General Assembly in 2015. The majority of those funds were designated for the architect and engineering fees for the formal plans and renderings of the CIC. The remaining funds will be used toward construction.

ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice recognized the efforts of several individuals and groups who made the CIC project possible. He lauded the work of the campus planning group that has spent the last year making decisions about the facility’s needs and design.

“Together we’ve developed a building that meets ASMSA’s needs and ensures the school is a beacon of excellence for curriculum, technology and student opportunity for many years to come,” Alderdice said.

He also recognized the efforts of the ASMSA Foundation Board of Ambassadors. The board is comprised of friends of the school who serve as ambassadors statewide, informing legislators, business leaders and others about the school.

“Their advocacy, enthusiasm and financial support are how ASMSA is able to provide extraordianary opportunities to our students, explore new programs and achieve our expanded mission of improving learning for all Arkansas students,” Alderdice said.

Several special guests were invited to speak about the importance of ASMSA as well as what a new academic building means for the community and the state. During his introduction of state Sen. Bill Sample of Hot Springs, Alderdice praised the legislator for his ability to focus on finding solutions rather than focus on problems. Sample was instrumental in gaining the governor’s initial support for the $500,000 GIF grant.

Sample said the CIC will be a testimony to how well ASMSA students can represent the state of Arkansas.

“This project is something we can put money into but it will return to the community, the state and the nation — more money than we could ever think about giving them,” Sample said.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman said it makes him proud to be able to tell his fellow congressmen in Washington, D.C., about the students at ASMSA and their accomplishments. He said ASMSA does a tremendous job in preparing people for success in many fields. He added that he was glad to see many of the building’s resources dedicated to innovation.

“We know we need more innovation in our country,” Westerman said. “If we want to be on the cutting edge, the leaders in technology, the leaders in science, it’s going to take more than just brain power. It’s going to take creativity and innovation.”

During his introduction of state Rep. Les Warren, Alderdice said the legislator has been one of ASMSA’s most vocal and ardent supporters both before and during his time in the General Assembly. Alderdice said Warren shares that same enthusiasm for each school and student in Garland County.

Warren said he has long admired the education ASMSA provides students from across Arkansas and the value the school brings to the community.

“It’s no secret that I love ASMSA,” Warren said. “This school is a great asset to Hot Springs and a great asset to Arkansas. I’m thankful that we have a school that brings the best and the brightest from across Arkansas together where iron sharpens iron.”

Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, also attended the event. Alderdice said that Bobbitt understands ASMSA has a unique and special role among the system’s 20 campuses and divisions.

Bobbitt praised Alderdice’s vision for the campus. During the interview process in 2012 for the director position, Bobbitt said he asked each candidate about their vision for the school. Some candidates spoke about the next year or two. Alderdice spoke about the school’s potential over decade, Bobbitt said.

It is the work he and his staff that has made a project like the CIC possible, Bobbit said. ASMSA is in a unique funding situation as it receives all of its funding directly from the General Assembly and not from millage taxes. That limits fundraising options for capital projects.

“There were many times when I thought this was not going to be possible. I would say through his perseverance and vision [Alderdice] simply wouldn’t let go of the idea. I applaud him for that. In the end, it was really through a judicious management of funds he already had and the generosity of so many—including the members of the community who are here today—that made this building a reality,” Bobbitt said.

The Oaklawn Foundation and members of Dan Fredinburg’s family were recognized during the event. Dennis Smith, chair of the Oaklawn Foundation, announced that on Sept. 1 that the Arkansas Community Foundation will issue a check for the $300,000 the organization pledged in December.

Vicki Hinz, director of ASMSA’s Office of Institutional Advancement, recognized members of Fredinburg’s family as one of the first members of the ASMSA Founder’s Society. Donors who make a combined gift of at least $50,000 to ASMSA are inducted into the Founder’s Society and given a limited edition hog sculpture in recognition of their contributions. The sculpture, titled “Razorback Scratch,” is by renowned wildlife sculptor and ASMSA biology instructor Dr. Jon Ruehle.

Hinz also recognized former Hot Springs Mayor Helen Selig and her family as the other initial inductee into the Founder’s Society. Selig was instrumental in the drive to bring ASMSA to Hot Springs in 1992. She continued her avid support of the school after being elected as mayor in 1994 and following decades. Members of her family recently established the Helen Selig Promise Kept Endowment in her honor. The $40,000 gift was the single largest gift to establish an endowment in the school’s history.

The groundbreaking ceremony closed out the event. The group included Alderdice, Bobbitt, Smith, Sample, Warren, Westerman, Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe, ASMSA Foundation Board member Ed Copeland, ASMSA Board of Visitor member Steve Faris, senior student Jessica Nunn, Fredinburg’s mother Debbi Willis and father and stepmother Paul and Cathy Fredinburg, Rico Harris of Harris Architecture, and Irwin Seale of Seale Construction Co.

Harris Architecture of Hot Springs produced the architecture and engineer plans for the CIC project. Seale Construction Co. of Sparkman will oversee the construction of the building.

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