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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Biosphere 2 takes over UA Flandreau Science Center and Planetarium

Economic woes are forcing college mergers all over campus, but several UA centers are uniting for scholastic as well as financial reasons.

The UA College of Science announced it will be refitting and reopening the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, with Biosphere 2 taking over operations. This shake-up comes as a result of the College of Science’s desire to create a more integrated and coherent set of campus science programs and resources.

The Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium closed its doors in June due to state budget constraints. Before closing, the center had been planning to move to a new downtown facility, plans that are now indefinitely on hold.

Flandrau plans to resume a full-week operating schedule sometime in the next four to five weeks.

“”You’re going to see a lot of activity here soon,”” said Jennifer Fields, associate director of education at Flandrau. “”This change will take time, and we know that, but we plan on getting bigger and better as we go along.””

Some changes will include updated equipment and exhibits and an expansion of the UA Mineral Museum, which is located in the center. Flandrau’s planetarium will also be reopened to the public.

“”The planetarium is something the community has really missed since Flandrau closed,”” Fields said. “”We still get some people walking up to it and asking ‘Is the planetarium open yet?'””

The process of transferring control of Flandrau to the Biosphere has already begun and will be completed by the end of the semester.

“”We really want to create strong integration between Flandrau and the Biosphere,”” said Travis Huxman, director of Biosphere 2. “”We have a lot of great programs that we want to highlight at both Flandrau and the Biosphere and we think that this move will allow us to do that more effectively.””

Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the UA College of Science, put the move into motion.

“”The Biosphere is the largest outreach program in the college of science and maybe the whole university,”” Ruiz said. “”They have all the structure and mechanisms in place to help Flandrau.””

Ruiz stressed his belief that, although Flandrau will now report to the Biosphere, the move is more about unification of common services and goals than it is about control.

“”Our goal is for Flandrau to become a portal for all the University of Arizona,”” Ruiz said. “”Right now, anyone interested in programs has to go to a couple different places to find out information about them. What we want to do is have it be that they can go into Flandrau and find those details out.””

Fields is excited for Flandrau to assume the role Ruiz envisions.

“”We are really happy about this change in role in our scientific community,”” Fields said. “”We know people really want to see the full science center back in action and soon they will.””

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