Students will now attend science classes in the newly christened Betty Irene Moore Natural Sciences Building, thanks to a multi-million dollar pledge by the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation.
According to Virginia Rivera, vice president for Institutional Advancement, the Moores donated $4 million to cover construction costs of the building because they wanted to name it.
“We want to support the best in the world. That’s why we chose Mills. I’m happy to be on board,” Betty Moore said in a Mills College press release dated Feb. 20.
As well as a new name, the building recently earned city-wide recognition for its platinum LEED status. The platinum rating is the highest level of achievement attainable in Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED).
To honor the building as the first structure in Oakland to attain this superior rating, Mayor Ron Dellums declared Feb. 25-29 of this year “Mills College Week.”
“We are proud to have Mills as an institution of higher learning and a leader in green building in
our community,” Dellums stated in another Mills press release posted on Feb. 25. “This accomplishment is a remarkable example of what can be achieved through pioneering collaboration and genuine commitment to high architectural and environmental standards.”
The platinum rating was given in honor of the building’s many green features, said professor John Brabson, head of the Chemistry department, who worked with campus architects and construction crew throughout the building’s creation.
Brabson said that these green features include photovoltaic panels on the roof that produce electricity, and the water catchment system which supplies water for flushing toilets.
“We are extremely proud of achieving the platinum LEED rating and owe thanks to many groups for this success,” Brabson said, crediting campus architect Karen Fiene and the Mills College Board of Trustees, among others.
“This truly is an institutional achievement and highlights what can be achieved when all constituencies work together,” he added.
Rivera said that the platinum rating was a large factor in the Moores’ decision to pledge their gift.
“Science and environment are top priorities for the Moores,” she said. “They were really pleased by the LEED features and platinum rating; normally they don’t give to buildings.”
Moore attended summer school classes at Mills College in the 1940s, but due to gas rationing and the high cost of transportation post-World War II, was unable to afford a career as a full-time student.
Rivera said that the Moores have supported many science and higher education programs in the Bay Area, including the Mills pre-nursing program.
She added that the Moores’ gift will allow the College to receive more funding from the Kresge Foundation. “They said that they would give us more if we raised more money,” Rivera said. “They wanted us to raise $3 million, and now that we have surpassed that, they are going to give us $1 million.”
In the meantime, other fundraising efforts are being implemented. Rivera said that the Office of Institutional Advancement will soon raise money for other areas of the science department, including programmatic support, additional scholarships for science students and funds for endowed chairs and professorships.
“It’ll take us awhile, but we’ve been fortunate to receive support from alums who have gone on to careers in the sciences,” Rivera said.