A $10 million gift will help Augsburg College fund a new building that will give students more room to move around.

The donation, the second of its kind in three years, brings total fundraising for the building to more than $40 million. The college hopes to reach its target of $50 million by spring 2016. This will be 10 times more than the school has ever raised to fund a new academic facility, said Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow.

The Center for Science, Business and Religion will expand opportunities for students pursuing degrees in biology, business and psychology — among the most popular majors. “Every student who comes to Augsburg will use this building at some point,” Pribbenow said.

Occupying 135,000 square feet, the massive center will ease overcrowding in classrooms and provide lab space for students and faculty to conduct research more efficiently.

“Having a new building will make students more confident in the work they’re doing,” said Ben Stottrup, associate professor of physics.

The current science building opened in 1948, when there was a different understanding of science and technology, Pribbenow explained. “In the 21st century, science and technology, business and commerce, religion and values are at the core of a lot of the challenges we face in our world.”

Augsburg officials estimate the center will cost about $70 million. In addition to the $50 million in fundraising, the school is seeking state funds.

Interest in business and science majors is growing nationally. USA Today reported that biology and business administration were among the most popular college majors last fall.

The campus currently houses 18 major buildings for nearly 3,500 students. The school hopes the science center will be open in 2019, just in time for its 150th anniversary.

Pribbenow and Stottrup are grateful to the donor, who will be identified this spring.

“This is really going to give us the opportunity to better serve our students,” Stottrup said.

 

Tina Munnell is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.