Bowdoin College plans to build a new center for studying the environment, made possible by a $10 million gift from a college trustee and his wife, the parents of a recent graduate.

Teachers and students from various disciplines will come together at the center, which will be at the corner of Harpswell Road and College Street on the Brunswick campus, according to a press release from the college.

Construction of the building, tentatively named the Roux Center for the Environment for donors David and Barbara Roux, is scheduled to begin in May of 2017, pending regulatory approvals, and be completed by the fall of 2018.

The building will house classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices and an auditorium. Students from the science, social science and humanities fields will collaborate to study policy and research local and worldwide environmental problems.

David Roux, a trustee of the college, said the project came about through conversations he had with the college’s new president, Clayton Rose.

“We saw an opportunity to help out with one of his, the college’s and society’s most important challenges, which is to better understand and respond to environmental challenges,” Roux said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Roux, who grew up in Lewiston and Yarmouth, is vice chairman of the board of directors for the National Audubon Society and a former member of the board of the Environmental Defense Fund. He is also chairman of the trustees at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.

Roux has been an executive at several technology companies and is a co-founder and former chief executive officer of the Silver Lake Group, a private equity firm.

Although he attended Harvard College, he has several relatives who went to Bowdoin, including his father and siblings, as well as the couple’s daughter, who graduated in 2014.

“I just think it’s one of the great institutions in our state, and I thought they were very well situated to work on this important problem,” said Roux, who lives in Upperville, Virginia, with his wife.

Bowdoin students now study environmental issues through the college’s Environmental Studies Program, the Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science and the Arctic Studies Program, and in other fields, from economics to chemistry.

Research is conducted on the Brunswick campus, and at the college’s Coastal Studies Center on Orr’s Island in Harpswell and the Bowdoin Scientific Station in the Bay of Fundy.

Environmental studies and other science programs are also likely to have dedicated space within the 250 acres at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station that are being acquired by the college.

Despite the amount of study of the environment at the college, Roux said, “there wasn’t a central location for collaboration.”

College spokesman Doug Cook said there are no plans now to add faculty positions or develop a new major in response to the donation.

“The Roux Center will represent a statement by Bowdoin that the study of the environment is a priority for the college,” he said.

The center will be built at the site of a fraternity house that was torn down in 2013 and will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

“This act of great generosity by Barb and Dave Roux will be transformative for Bowdoin, and we are deeply grateful for their support,” said Rose, the college president.

 


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