LSSU hosted the grand opening of the new Richard and Theresa Barch Center for Freshwater Research and Education Facility. The state-of-the-art laboratories for campus constituents to conduct freshwater research, hands-on exhibits for community members to learn ways to protect natural resources, and wall-to-wall windows for uninterrupted views of the St. Marys River.
The grand opening tour stops include a cutting-edge mesocosm laboratory, an experimental system in which to perform a broad range of scientific investigation spanning aquaculture to contaminants to invasive species. There also is a Great Lakes Discovery Center, free and open to the public, with real-world interactive displays on the ecology of the Great Lakes, and a Discovery Lab that will host K-12 and undergraduate classes in the near future, including a Career and Technical Education program in natural resources for high schoolers. The complex additionally contains office space for key external partners, such as Michigan Sea Grant, an initiative of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the mandate to enhance sustainable use of the Great Lakes; and the upcoming U.S. Coast Guard National Center of Expertise for the Great Lakes that will focus on oil spills in freshwater environments.
“The Richard and Theresa Barch Center for Freshwater Research and Education expands our footprint deeper into the Soo and extends our trailblazing environmentalism. Barch CFRE immediately has become the crown jewel of our campus buildings and an important hub for the region,” said LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley. “Because Lake State is surrounded by three Great Lakes and the five comprise the largest freshwater system in the world, we’ve made their stewardship a priority for faculty and an opportunity for students since our beginnings in 1946. Due to the generosity of lead donors Richard and Theresa Barch, Lake State now has a top-notch repository that equips our graduates with the knowledge and skills to craft a life of meaningful employment while augmenting the quality of life of the Great Lakes region, per our mission. Put simply, Barch CFRE is innovative and transformative, reflecting ecological sustainability, student learning, operational excellence, and community alliance, which are pillars of our strategic plan.”