Curie Hall Dedication Marks a Major Milestone in Soka's Growth

December 07, 2021
Dignitaries in front of the Marie Curie statue at Curie Hall

Erica Koyama ’23 was in awe when she first set foot inside Marie and Pierre Curie Hall on the first day of class.

However, studying there this semester has taught her that the new Life Sciences building is much more than steel, concrete, and glass. “Soka’s interdisciplinary curriculum creates scientists of compassion, not competition,” Koyama said. “This hall is a representation of Dr. Marie and Pierre Curie’s legacy of tenacity and intellectual curiosity.”

Koyama was one of two students who addressed the 200 virtual and 50 in-person guests at the Curie Hall Dedication Ceremony on November 18. After launching the Life Sciences concentration in 2020, Curie Hall remained empty during the school year due to SUA’s decision to adopt virtual learning in response to the pandemic. Students’ return to campus for the 2021 Fall semester thus saw Curie Hall utilized by students and faculty for the first time in person.

In his opening remarks, SUA President Edward Feasel said, “We have come full circle in the 20th anniversary celebration with today’s dedication event for our new science hall, marking a major milestone in our campus’ growth.”

He thanked donors worldwide who made the 90,000-square-foot science hall’s construction possible, as well as SUA alumni who advocated for a Life Sciences concentration to support students interested in pursuing graduate studies or a career in health or science.

Pres. Feasel noted that those students, including Isamu Yoshioka ’05, the first SUA alumnus to pursue a career in medicine and who attended the ceremony, didn’t have the options today’s students do.

“As a student, Isamu had to take science courses during his summer break, like many of our students before this Life Sciences concentration, at local colleges like UC Irvine, just to prepare for their post-baccalaureate medical program,” Pres. Feasel said. “The contribution and trailblazing efforts of alumni like Isamu led to the establishment of the Life Sciences concentration and this new, incredible science building at SUA.”

After Pres. Feasel’s welcome, Soka Student Union president Yuka Hombo ’22 expressed appreciation for the faculty, staff, and donors whose efforts and contributions impact Soka students’ education. Hombo was followed by a series of SUA faculty members and students who shared their excitement and vision for the new facilities and curriculum that will allow students to prepare for careers in health and science.

Sergio Prince, representing Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, presented Pres. Feasel with a Certificate of Recognition for the Dedication of Marie and Pierre Curie Hall and shared a quote from Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

As Koyama’s remarks suggest, the new Life Sciences courses are part of Soka’s expansive liberal arts offerings and informed by its focus on encouraging global citizenship. Life Sciences students are trained to develop a humanistic perspective that doesn’t lose sight of the moral and ethical dimensions of their scientific practice.

In her remarks, Susan Walsh, director of the Life Sciences concentration and associate professor of molecular/cell biology, said it is common for people to think first about laboratories, fancy equipment, and glassware when imagining a science building. Walsh believes such concrete objects only tell part of the story, however, as “it is the interaction of the students and faculty within these laboratory and study spaces that truly creates the spirit of a science building.”