Photo of Maureen Wilkens courtesy of 4Cs

By Maheen Ahmed

On  January 8, 2019, President John Cox emailed the faculty of Cape Cod Community College (4Cs), informing them that Mrs. Maureen Wilkens had donated a total sum of $5 million dollars out of the estimated $38 million needed to go towards the construction of a new Science and Engineering building on campus.

Cox called this gift transformational as it opens up a new chapter in a campaign that has been four years in the making.

“It is such a transformational gift because through her commitment, through her generosity, it has enabled this institution to do things that we would not have been able to do otherwise,” said Cox.

The architecture firm Payette is on the Construction Governing Board for Massachusetts along with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM).

Payette told the Dean of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) department, Donald Crampton, a notable phrase that will likely be defining the new building for years to come.

“They want to build the first of something, but not the last of something,” Crampton said, “So let’s not build the last dungeonness Science building, let’s build a science building that will engage with students, has flexibility as technology and careers change and with the community.”

The current Science building is “functionally obsolete” as Crampton said in an interview. He compares the building to the Sagamore and Bourne bridge. They work, but no one would build a bridge like that today.

It’s important to consider the aesthetic and functionality of the new building compared to the rest of the campus. As of now, the campus buildings form a ring.

“Do we want to break the ring? Do we want to create new spaces on campus? How will it interact with other buildings on campus? Which building will it interact with?” These are just a few of the questions that were raised by Crampton.

The new building’s location is hard to pinpoint at such an early stage and cannot be determined until the geography is completely understood.

“They drill all over campus to find things,” Crampton said, “We don’t want to hit something that cannot be removed, and they also look at the topography; where are things, where does the water go, and where does the water drain.”

Before construction can begin, these unknown areas must be discovered.

Crampton explains how the plan is to have an environment that “supports student’s curiosity in science” and can be “more open, sort of like science on display,” in anticipation that students would be more excited about enrolling in a STEM major.

President John Cox went on to say that the next step would be to apply for funding. Last year, the state passed a bond bill that allocated $950 million to all of Massachusetts public higher education. Out of twenty-eight proposals, only six were funded. 4Cs’ proposal was one of those six.

Three years ago, the study and conceptual design phase for the building was completed, but due to state budget challenges the project was abandoned. However, last year on July 10, 2018, Governor Charlie Baker committed $25 million dollars of capital construction bond funds to 4Cs.

4Cs plans to supply $3 million and The Educational Foundation’s capital campaign will work to raise the remaining $5 million needed. Once construction starts, it’s estimated to take about 18 to 24 months to complete. Construction will not interfere with the current campus lifestyle, according to an article featured on the 4Cs website.

The current building is being used, classes are being held and students are filling its classrooms, but there is potential for a much better building. When something has the potential to be better and the resources to do so are possible to obtain, then it is vital to do whatever possible to achieve innovation.

By donating the $5 million gift to the campaign, Wilkens jump-started the process to its halfway mark.

According to Cox, Mrs. Wilkens’s gifts and commitment to this campus will “impact so many future generations of our students and graduates. It is a great point in the history of this institution and Cape Cod.”