"We looked at it five years ago, looked at the path to, hopefully, achieving university status, and one of the things that certainly came to the top was looking back to that signature academic building," said Benjamin Rusiloski, dean of the School of Life and Physical Sciences.
The college has just under 2,000 students, including about 300 graduate students. The new building is intended as a place for students to work and relax.
"The students find it to be phenomenal," Rusiloski said. "The building is equipped with a lot of student space that is usable not only for teaching, but for students to meet in small groups, to work on projects together, and to relax between classes."
The facilities "are really for everyone, and it's really a gathering place for the whole campus community," he said. "In fact, it not only brings the campus community together, it really serves as a bridge to bring the campus community together with the local community."
Among the classes offered in the building are chemistry, biology, conservation, wildlife management and zoo science.
Johnathan Alvarez, 21, a senior studying biology, said students like to both study and just hang out in the building.
"Just the look of it is really nice," he said.
Construction finished almost seven months ahead of schedule, Rusiloski said. The building had not been expected to be open and operational until at least the summer, and many expected a fall semester opening.
To pay for the building, Delaware Valley issued bonds, looked to the state, and received gifts. About two-thirds of the funding came from private bonds, and a sixth from the state.
"I've been involved in the process of getting the funding, getting the approvals, getting through all of the different challenges with architects and builders and all the rest. So it's so great to see the building up and operational," said Delaware Valley president Joseph S. Brosnan. "I live on campus, so I had the chance to see the building growing up day by day. Seeing all this, watching it all come together through the years, to being there on the opening day of school, to watch the students and the faculty, it was an incredible moment."
Rusiloski said the new building highlights the school's evolution. "It really speaks to where we've been and where we're heading, which is really exciting," he said.