Apr 28 2008
The Auburn Plainsman
By Mallory Boykin
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., his wife Annette Shelby, Auburn University President Jay Gogue, Board of Trustee Member Samuel Ginn and Dean of College of Engineering Larry Benefield spoke at the dedication ceremony for the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology Friday, April 18.
“Congratulations to Auburn,” Shelby said. “This is a great day for Auburn.”
He said they are looking forward to the completion of phase two in the future and everything the center will do for our economy.
Shelby said he set out on a mission about 10 or 12 years ago to revitalize and build state-of-the-art facilities for engineering that would change the opportunities and economy of this state, and phase one of the Shelby Center is evidence of this.
“I’m proud of this facility,” Shelby said. “I’m proud of Auburn University, and I am proud to know that this is our largest engineering facilities that we have in the state.”
Shelby said while he was honored the center was named after he and his wife, it was more about what will come after the naming, the research and students that will allow Auburn to compete on a global level and will help change our state and nation.
Annette Shelby said Auburn had a historic commitment to technical education.
She said she hopes the center will create a teaching environment, train engineers for the 21st century and share its resources and knowledge with Alabama, the nation and all of humanity.
Gogue said engineering has played a vital role in the life of our country.
“It’s just a great day and a great facility,,” Gogue said. “What will happen as a result of this facility is what is really great.”
Ginn said the building that used to be in the space that is now filled by the Shelby Center was Magnolia Hall. He said he lived in the hall as a freshman and described it as cinderblock and metal.
“There was a federal judge ruling some years later that set the minimum standards for prisoners in the state of Alabama, they had to have so much light, so much heat and so much space, and Magnolia Hall did not meet those standards,” Ginn said.
Ginn said he was thankful the hall came down and was replaced by the Shelby Center for many reasons.
“We understand, and the Board of Trustees understands that now that we have this wonderful facility, we have to make it work,” Ginn said. “We all have great confidence in Larry Benefield and his staff to make sure that we turn out the kind of engineers that will help us compete in the global economy.”
Ginn said he feels the senator is in the same place and if we cannot technically innovate, then we cannot compete in a global economy.
“Senator and Annette, you’ve given us a fabulous opportunity, and we will not disappoint,” Ginn said.
Benefield said reputations are determined by students and faculty, and they are attracted to schools that possess incredible facilities.
He said the buildings the College of Engineering used in the past were not the best at attracting students and faculty, but the completion of phase one of the Shelby Center was a huge step toward satisfying that vision.
“All you have to do is to look around at this magnificent building, and you understand what it means and what it will mean to our recruiting efforts,” Benefield said.