Approximately 50 faculty, staff, and friends gathered on October 8 in the University’s Armacost Library for the unveiling and dedication of the Fletcher Jones Foundation Innovation Center. Made possible through the Foundation’s generous grant of nearly $1 million, the Center’s expansion includes an upgraded makerspace, collaborative work areas, and configurable teaching and learning spaces.
University of Redlands President Krista Newkirk welcomed guests, noting the “digital transformation across campus that addresses the diverse learning needs of our students.” Newkirk also recognized the 40 years of partnership the University has had with the Fletcher Jones Foundation, as well as its collaboration with Garner Holt Productions, a manufacturer of animatronics and animatronic figures, special effects, and show action, to bring the Center to life.
U of R Chief Information Officer Steve Garcia credited emeriti faculty Larry Harvill, Bob Engel, and Dave Bragg with creating the first Fletcher Jones Foundation Computer Center in 1984. “We stand on the shoulders of these visionaries,” says Garcia. “They were responsible for bringing personal computers onto our campus, well before everyone had their own devices.”
Garcia also thanked members of the University’s Information Technology Services, Facilities, and Advancement teams for their collaboration in making the innovation center a reality. “I am eager to see what we can do next,” said Garcia, who noted that virtual reality and the first-ever sponsored e-sports team are among future innovation plans.
Bill Tynan is the director of secondary education and workforce development at Garner Holt Education Through Imagination, which supports students in discovering interests, talents, and passions through STEAM [science, technology, engineering, art, and math] learning and career exploration. Tynan expressed his gratitude to the University for “believing in us and the value we can bring to students by providing a creative platform to tell their stories.”
Vice President for Advancement Tamara Michel Josserand also thanked the Fletcher Jones Foundation and the colleagues who contributed to the grant. Josserand introduced a video message from Mary Spellman, the Foundation’s executive director and treasurer. “Fletcher Jones was a man who believed in the transformative power of technology,” said Spellman. “Today, his foundation supports private colleges and universities in California by making transformative grants that advance an institution’s progress.”
Spellman recalled standing in front of the Center’s doors two years earlier with the U of R team “who had a dream for how technology could enhance the lives of students and faculty at the University. It is exciting to celebrate the culmination of that dream with the opening of the Innovation Center.”
Following the ribbon cutting (which featured talking animatronic robots that ended their remarks with the U of R’s signature phrase “Och Tamale”), guests enjoyed tours of the Center. The tour included a demonstration of 3-D printing in the makerspace with Computer Lab Supervisor Iyan Barrera-Sandri ’08, ’15, ’22, who shared ways that different academic areas can use the Center, such as printing models of molecules for a chemistry class.