The Fletcher Jones Foundation has awarded a $750,000 grant to Westmont College toward the renovation of the college’s biology and chemistry labs. The grant will improve classroom and lab spaces inside the Whittier Science Building, which opened in 1985.

“Westmont has built a strong science program that offers students the ability to do significant research with professors and gain admission to top graduate schools,” said Eileen McMahon McQuade, associate professor and chair of the biology department. “This grant will help the college maintain its commitment to creating the best possible science programs with equally outstanding facilities and equipment.”

The project will transform the science building from floor to ceiling, redesigning lab spaces to better accommodate research projects and encourage interaction between faculty and students. With county approval, Westmont hopes to complete a first phase of upgrades by summer 2015.

“We’re thankful for the Fletcher Jones Foundation’s generous support,” Westmont President Gayle Beebe said. “The foundation has made a critical impact on the college’s success and mission through the years. Our students and faculty have greatly benefited from their investment in new science research equipment and in our first rotating endowed chair, The Fletcher Jones Foundation Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences.”

The foundation also provided the lead grant to Westmont’s liberal arts program that has helped sustain the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts.

“One of our top priorities is providing young men and women with the best possible opportunities to succeed in graduate or medical schools and flourish in their science careers,” said Michael Everest, professor of chemistry and chair of the department.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.