“Solving today’s problems involves policy, communication, and science,” said Peter Starr, then-dean of American University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and now acting provost. “We have the policy, we have the communication, we have the people, the students to do the science.” Thanks to visionary giving, an inspiring space is now available to foster groundbreaking collaboration and communication across scientific disciplines.
In October 2020, during a pandemic, on time, and under budget, AU’s new Hall of Science opened its doors, providing our faculty and staff with the innovative spaces needed to support their groundbreaking work.
Philanthropic support is essential to supporting the Hall of Science and furthering the important work that takes place within its walls. University trustee Gary Abramson, SPA/BA ’68, and his wife, Pennie, have played a significant role in advancing AU for decades. They have a vision for the role of science in AU’s future and their $5 million gift to the Hall of Science helped launch construction on the 125,000 sq. ft., state of the art facility. In recognition of the Abramson’s commitment to creating spaces to foster discovery through community, the Hall of Science’s auditorium is named the Gary and Pennie Abramson Discovery Hall.
Home to AU’s biology, environmental science, chemistry, and neuroscience departments, the collaborative space is the concrete-and-glass evidence of AU’s commitment to a renaissance in the sciences. “The opening of the Hall of Science is the single most important step helping us recruit outstanding students and outstanding world class faculty,” said Starr. “This group of STEM scholars are tackling today’s biggest problems.”
- $5 million
Hall of Science
- Gary Abramson, SPA/BA '68, and Pennie Abramson
“We are proud to be a part of making the Hall of Science a reality,” the Abramsons said. “In an ever-changing world, science is essential to how society approaches its greatest opportunities and challenges. AU students and faculty deserve a space that matches their ambition and affords them every opportunity to advance scientific discovery.”
Science is the fastest-growing area of undergraduate study at the university. With the support from the Abramsons and others, AU will continue its commitment to further scientific research to address some of the world’s most pressing problems, from environmental degradation to disease and health disparities. Over the past several years, CAS faculty have grown their research funding by more than 100 percent, securing more than 50 unique awards from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.
With 52 dedicated faculty and staff, the Hall of Science space is outfitted with 12 teaching labs used by a STEM focused group of student researchers and scientists pursuing 16 undergraduate degrees and 16 graduate degrees. Women make up 60 percent of undergraduate STEM majors.
The Hall of Science serves as a catalyst for discovery and a groundbreaking space for the university's community of award-winning scientists and students to address key issues such as climate change, cancer, obesity, and dementia. Looking ahead, AU’s critical concentration on the sciences and collaborations with the world's most influential scientific organizations will afford AU students and faculty every opportunity to advance science discovery for the world.
Continued philanthropy is imperative for AU to become a key player in all aspects of the sciences, from research, to recruiting high-talent students and faculty, to developing strategic partnerships that aim to solve complex, global challenges.