BY EMILY CHAPMAN
Nicole Ordway likes a challenge. As a student at Mount Mary University, she chose to study science because she said it was an unusual major for a woman.
“I knew it’d be challenging and offer a rewarding future,” Ordway said. She graduated in 2014 with a biology health sciences major and a chemistry minor.
Ordway is currently working as a production and distribution supervisor at Sigma-Aldrich, a St. Louis-based science technology company. She is also working on a master’s degree in public health and a doctorate in chemistry.
Ordway said that the science classes at Mount Mary provided her with the skills needed for a career in science.
“At Mount Mary, I was able to have hands-on experience and dedicated one-on-one time with my professors in the laboratory,” Ordway said. “In certain classes, we were treated as colleagues working with our professors, allowing us to foster our own ideas and experiments.”
Science is not new at Mount Mary, but has been a part of the school since it opened in Milwaukee in 1929.
In the 1939 edition of “The Autobiography of the College,” Edward Fitzpatrick, president of Mount Mary from 1929 to 1954, explained the importance of having a science curriculum.
“Science … is consequently an essential part of a liberal education,” Fitzpatrick said. “It should be a part of the intellectual and spiritual inheritance of every student at Mount Mary College. Its object with us is not to make scientists but to make educated human beings.”
Originally, chemistry and biology were the only science majors offered. Now, the science department has become part of the School of Natural and Health Sciences, and several majors have been added, such as radiologic technology, added in 2008.
The science department was originally located on the third floor of Notre Dame Hall. In 2002, construction was started on the Gerhardinger Center, a new building for science-related fields. The building cost approximately $7 million. Funding was provided through a $20 million capital fundraising campaign that funded multiple projects on campus and a contribution of at least $500,000 from the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the right to name the building after the order’s founder, Mother Theresa Gerhardinger.
Construction was completed in 2004, and the science department relocated in the fall of that year.
It has been almost 11 years since the science department moved, but its goal is the same. On its page on the Mount Mary website, Cheryl Bailey, dean of the School of Natural and Health Sciences, said the goal of the department is “to help students be able to improve themselves and their communities to make the world a better place.”
Lynn Diener, chair of the science department, said that it is very important to develop people who are scientifically literate.
“So many people have fear of science, and we need people who are comfortable with the science that you see in the news,” Diener said. “You’re [Arches is] doing a whole issue about science. We need people to be able to read that and not be afraid.”