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Eastern names Science Building in honor of former President David Carter

Published on December 08, 2021

Eastern names Science Building in honor of former President David Carter

Dr. David G. Carter Science Building
Dr. David G. Carter Science Building

On Dec. 7, Eastern Connecticut State University honored one of its most notable champions when it named the Science Building after David G. Carter Sr., the University’s fifth president. More than 100 guests joined Eastern President Elsa Núñez in the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center to recognize Carter’s leadership and contributions to Eastern. Hundreds more watched the event via a live YouTube stream.

Serving as Eastern’s president from 1988 to 2006, Carter was the first African American to lead a four-year institution of higher education in Connecticut when he was appointed president. Carter retired in 2011 as chancellor of the Connecticut State University System and passed away in March 2018.

During Carter’s 18-year tenure, Eastern’s degree offerings grew, its enrollments increased by 40 percent, and the campus footprint doubled. Carter was most proud of the day in 1998 when the Connecticut State University Board of Trustees designated Eastern as “Connecticut's Public Liberal Arts University.”

Event dignitaries stand for the unveiling of the signage of the Dr. David G. Carter Science Building. Left to right: Theresa Hopkins-Staten, naming committee co-chair; Lorraine McDevitt, community resident and long-time friend; Justice Lubbie Harper Jr., long-time friend; Jessica Carter, daughter; Martin Levin, emeritus biology professor; Elsa Núñez, Eastern president; and Chris Abayasinghe, class of 2002 graduate.

Carter was also instrumental in gaining state funding to develop Eastern’s facilities. In addition to the state-of-the-art Science Building, other modern facilities constructed during Carter’s tenure as president and chancellor included the J. Eugene Smith Library, the Child Family Development Resource Center, Gelsi-Young Hall, a new Public Safety Building, the South Residential Village, and the Mansfield Sports Complex, among others.

In 2006, Carter became the chancellor of the Connecticut State University System, a position he held until his retirement in 2011.  During his five years as chancellor, Carter led the four-university system through an expansion of academic offerings, student services, and campus development. In his final year as chancellor in 2011, CSUS reached an all-time high of 36,629 students at its universities, while his successful advocacy of the CSUS among legislators resulted in a $950 million commitment to upgrade the four state university campuses over a 10-year period.

Elsa Núñez, Eastern president

Chris Abayasinghe, class of 2002 graduate

Justice Lubbie Harper Jr., long-time friend

Theresa Hopkins-Staten, naming committee co-chair

Jessica Carter, daughter

Martin Levin, emeritus biology professor

Lorraine McDevitt, community resident and long-time friend

Eastern President Núñez called Carter “a genius” at the naming ceremony, citing Eastern’s Institute of Sustainable Energy as an example of an idea ahead of its time. “The Science Building is the cornerstone of his legacy” and “a testament to his strength of will.”

“One of the special moments Dr. Carter enjoyed — and there were many of these — was when he got out his own trowel and laid a brick as part of each new building’s construction,” continued Núñez. “He was a mason tender as a young man and loved knowing he was part of every building that was constructed during his presidency.”

Núñez added:“All of us have heard stories about him playing pool with students, visiting classes, sharing his wisdom one-on-one with students needing counsel. He was absolutely committed to giving each student on this campus an outstanding education.”

United Voice of Praise, a student gospel choir, perform at the ceremony.

Jessica Carter gives the ceremony's invocation.

Eastern President Núñez addresses the Betty Tipton Room audience.

Applauding his “innovative vision and inspirational spirit,” Theresa Hopkin-Staten, co-chair of the citizen’s committee that advocated for the Science Building naming, said Carter “saw the intrinsic value in every person . . . he led with empathy and perspective, with authentic consideration and care for everyone in his charge.”

Local resident Lorraine McDevitt, a friend of Carter’s since 1977, called him “the students’ president” and reminded the audience of one of Carter’s many skills — “he could remember the first name of every student he met.”

Retired Biology professor Martin Levin recalled that when Carter came to Eastern in 1988, the University had endured more than a decade of legislative pressure to close the campus and merge it with the University of Connecticut. “He was a man on a mission with a strong and persuasive voice. He was committed to transforming Eastern into a world-class liberal arts university.”

Levin said the Science Building’s original scale didn’t suit Carter and he lobbied for a larger facility. “In 2008, we got our dream building.”

Lubbie Harper Jr., retired Connecticut Supreme Court Justice and a lifetime friend of Carter’s, said, “David Carter had a passion for science and wanted Eastern to play a leading role” in the realm of science . . . The tribute we pay him today is a tangible expression of remembrance . . . a monument to a man who literally transformed this campus.”

Other speakers included Chris Abayasinghe ’02, a native of Sri Lanka and now associate vice president of business services at Northeastern University; and LaMar Coleman, vice president for equity and diversity, who served as master of ceremonies.

Giving the invocation at the event, Carter’s daughter Jessica shared details of his early years growing up in Dayton, OH, and said, “We are so proud of you, Dad. We only wish you could have been here to see it.”

A display in the the Betty R. Tipton Room.

A display in the Dr. David G. Carter Science Building lobby.

About the Dr. David G. Carter Science Building

Opening in fall 2008, the 174,000-square-foot Science Building is the largest facility on campus. Its five stories include general-purpose classrooms, laboratories and lecture halls to support the Biology, Environmental Earth Science, Physical Science, Mathematical Science, Health Sciences and Computer Sciences departments. The building consolidates all science disciplines and classes from seven buildings into one facility.

At a cost of $64 million, the building features state-of-the-art instructional spaces, specialized equipment, a glass-encased atrium, and an array of environmental features in its construction. The 132-seat lecture hall includes a high-end audio/visual system, and special facilities within the building range from an Imaging Center with a confocal microscope to a virtual dissection table in the Health Sciences and dedicated computer labs.

The building has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its use of green construction materials, grey-water recycling, lighting controls and other energy efficiencies.

Enrollment in science majors increased more than 50 percent in the first two years of the building’s existence and continue to be strong. In addition to students enrolled in science majors, the building offers classes to all Eastern students; as part of the University’s liberal arts core curriculum, each student must take science and mathematics courses.

Written by Ed Osborn