This Saturday marked an important day for the Colgate campus and community with the dedication of the Robert H. N. Ho Science Center. The building’s two-story atrium was filled with Colgate faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the college, all of whom were present to honor and celebrate the opening of the building, as well as pay tribute to Robert Ho ’57 himself.
The Ho Center and its donor were celebrated for providing the best possible facilities to students and faculty. Its key role in preparing students for the increasingly technology-oriented and interdisciplinary world was repeatedly emphasized throughout the ceremony.
President of the University and Professor of Philosophy and Religion Rebecca Chopp made the welcoming remarks and spoke highly of Ho’s dedication to Colgate and what he was providing by acting as the lead donor on the project.
“Mr. Ho has the aspiration that Colgate will now be even more prepared to educate citizens for the whole world,” Chopp said. “The world needs leaders who can analyze and communicate and Mr. Ho wanted this building erected around those ideas. This building is truly a celebration of the sciences in the context of the liberal arts.”
Following Chopp, Provost and Dean of Faculty Lyle Roelofs spoke. He recognized and thanked the individuals on campus that helped design, plan and oversee the new building. He followed with a preview and description of the facilities of the center and how it is being fully utilized to expand the sciences at Colgate. Roelofs was confident that the forty new laboratories and research spaces, five-chamber greenhouse and common areas that foster student and faculty interaction would spark the interest of any and every student at Colgate, no matter what their major.
“Not only are we a great school with a great football team,” said Roelofs to resounding applause for the 31-28 win over Dartmouth, “But now we can be known as a great institution with a superb science program.”
Board of Trustees member, alumnus and Colgate parent Denis Cronin was the next speaker. He discussed the schism between the scientific and literary communities and how he hoped the new science center would eliminate that disparity on the Colgate campus.
“Knowledge is an entirety,” Cronin said. “It should not be segmented. Even a fugitive of the sciences like me can’t help but be in awe and celebrate over this new cathedral of science.”
After Mr. Cronin sat down, the guest of honor was introduced and welcomed with a standing ovation from the audience.
Ho began his address with a Chinese proverb that translated to “Drink the water, but always remember the source.” Ho said that Colgate had always provided him with an abundance of water, and he wanted to continue to remember and thank his school, which he hoped to do with his donation. However, he strongly emphasized that the center was and always would be only a building.
“It is something that can easily become obsolete in this fast-moving world,” he said. “The real gift is the use the students and faculty will put to this center.”
Ho was very thankful to everyone who made the opening happen a year ahead of schedule.
“This place was simply an idea in 2002, and it is extremely pleasing to see what a grand construction it is now after such a short time.”
Ho’s speech was short and concise: he thanked all those who needed to be thanked but mainly focused on his hope that Colgate students would utilize the center to its full potential in order to further their studies in science.
Ho emphasized the need for people to be schooled in the sciences in order to succeed in the globalized twenty-first century and his hope that his gifts would allow for that opportunity as well as make Colgate a leader in the field of sciences.
After Ho’s speech, Chopp again stood up and gave Mr. Ho a personal thank-you for his advice and friendship to her as well as his “wisdom on leading a college and building this center.”
Then she, Roelofs and Cronin presented Ho with a painting of the new building. Following this presentation all of Ho’s family and friends who were present came up to join him in the cutting of the ribbon signifying the official dedication and opening of the building. The ceremony concluded with a performance of the Alma Mater by the Colgate Chamber Choir.