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For nearly five decades, Piez Hall hosted many science departments on the east side of campus. Currently, Piez Hall is closed for major renovations which will come to fruition with the new Science and Engineering Innovation Corridor.
Opened in 1962, this academic building is named for former faculty member Richard K. Piez who taught industrial arts, drawing, psychology and history of education at Oswego Normal School, as the institution was known during his time. His pioneering industrial arts innovations earned his name's attachment to the mathematics and science building. At this time, Oswego was evolving from a teacher-training collect to a multipurpose institution offering degree programs in the arts and sciences.
Contribution to manual arts
Richard Piez was hired to teach manual training at Oswego Normal School. He was selected by then-principal Edward Austin Sheldon to lead the manual training program, which eventually developed a national reputation. The purpose of the manual training course, one of only three tracks available through the school at the time, was "to train teachers to use tools readily in the construction of such simple apparatus as may be required in science work for the lower grades," Sheldon wrote in his autobiography. A well-equipped shop was available for students undertaking this course which was supervised by the "remarkably competent" and "invaluable" Dr. Richard Keller Piez, Sheldon wrote.
As an instructor, Piez was mainly concerned with the development of expert skills for construction and Sheldon encouraged him to develop activities for his students that would produce a useful end project. Oswego established among the first manual training courses in the country led by Piez until 1902 when he moved from the manual arts department to the psychology department in the normal school. Joseph Park then took his place as the new head of the manual arts department.
When Isaac B. Poucher, who took over the institution from Sheldon in the 1890s, announced his retirement in 1913, Piez was considered as a potential successor along with the director of instrutction, James G. Riggs. Local papers posited their opinions, noting that while Riggs said he was promised the position by the state education department, Piez "was no ordinary professor," earning wide recognition for his innovative writings in advancements in manual training. However dazzling Piez's accomplishments, Riggs was appointed the position and led the college for two decades.
Reinvention and renovation
Current renovation plans seek to reinvent the home for mathematics and science studies. A large addition will raise a new science complex which will include Piez Hall in its 230,000-square-foot facility. A groundbreaking on September 17, 2010, was the first step in creating the reality of the Science and Engineering Innovation Corridor to be completed within the next few years. This complex will be ideal for academic collaboration, making the most of learning opportunities for students. The $170 million in renovations also include changes to Park, Wilber, Sheldon and Piez halls. This project also will include inventive environmentally friendly features as part of a greater vision for Oswego to go green for the benefit of the campus and the greater community.
-- Kathleen Davis, Class of 2012