Ground Broken on Mitchell Physics Buildings

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For science studies alone, Aggie alum George P. Mitchell has donated nearly $45 million to Texas A&M. Some $35 million of that is going towards a pair of physics and astronomy buildings which will bear his name.

Ground was ceremonially broken Wednesday on $57 million worth of construction. The two joined physics and astronomy buildings will be named for George and Cynthia Mitchell, called the most financially supportive benefactors of the modern A&M era.

"I'm very fascinated," said Mitchell of the subject matters. "I learned a lot about the science of deep space, the mysteries of space. I've always had an interest, so this is an interesting program to be behind."

With 150,000 square feet of classrooms and laboratories, the university believes this will put them in the upper echelon of physics and astronomy research.

"The construction of these two world class physics buildings will enable that meeting of knowledge with opportunity, both for our faculty and our students," A&M President Robert Gates said.

"These buildings will have a dramatic effect on our research program," said Edward Fry, the head of the department of physics. "They will enable us to bring some of the top scientist throughout the world to A&M for visits and collaborations."

Mitchell's name is already seen and heard across campus, everything from academic chairs to tennis courts.

"It's where I got my degree and education," he said. "Therefore, if I had success in life, I think it's important that I put something back."

A&M officials call the Mitchell buildings the centerpiece of $300 million worth of construction on campus. It's not the only groundbreaking this week for them. The life sciences building will have a similar ceremony on Friday.

Among the other projects Mitchell has supported is the Giant Magellan telescope, one which will produce images 10 times sharper than the famed-Hubble Telescope.