11/27/05 — Winston-Salem science building dedicated to Goldsboro native

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Winston-Salem science building dedicated to Goldsboro native

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Published in News on November 27, 2005 2:07 AM

WINSTON-SALEM -- Winston-Salem State Uni-versity recently dedicated a new $12.1 million science building in honor of Dr. Wilveria Bass Atkinson, a longtime WSSU faculty member, science education advocate and multi-million dollar research grant recipient, and namesake of an endowed chair.

A native of Goldsboro, Atkinson served the university for more than 30 years in its Life Sciences Department. She established the Project Strengthen program in biomedical research at WSSU in 1970, which saw her students visit five continents while involved in biomedical research in an effort to increase the number of minority biomedical professionals.

In 2000, an endowed faculty position was established in her honor in WSSU's Life Sciences Department. The university raised an initial amount of $233,000 to establish the chair. Additional matching funds from the C.D. Spangler Foundation and the State of North Carolina completed the endowment of $500,000.

"I am deeply moved that the university is honoring me in such a magnificent manor," she said. "This truly is a special moment, one that will always cherish."

Through Atkinson's efforts, Winston-Salem State developed collaborations with the Meharry Medical College, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine and University of Florida-Gainesville School of Medicine. In addition, she has led the initiative to enhance the molecular biology specialization, resulting in WSSU becoming the first campus in the University of North Carolina system to award the bachelor of science degree in molecular biology.

"We are grateful for and proud of the many contributions that Dr. Atkinson has made to our institution, to higher education in general, and to biomedical education specifically. The naming of our new science building in her honor recognizes her long-standing devotion to WSSU and to young people in the field of biomedical research," WSSU Chancellor Harold L. Martin said.

Atkinson is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. degree in zoology, continuing her studies at the Universidad de Madrid. She received her Ph.D. in biology with specialty in immunology from New York University.

Construction of the Atkinson Science Building began in May 2003. The new structure provides approximately 51,000 square feet for classroom and laboratory space, 3,000 square feet for a lecture hall and 1,600 square feet for a cafe. Dedicated laboratories include chemistry, anatomy, physiology immunology, biotechnique, chromatography, physics and organic chemistry. The facility opened in the spring.