Mary Baldwin University will mark the start of renovations to Jesse Cleveland Pearce Science Center — and a new beginning for science education on the Staunton campus — at 4:30 p.m. Thursday during a symbolic groundbreaking.

Pearce Science Center

Held on the lawn in front of the third-floor entrance of Pearce, the ceremony will include remarks by Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox and Board of Trustees Chairwoman Lyn McDermid ’95, tours of the four-story building, and a reception. On the guest list are U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Del. Richard P. “Dickie” Bell, and Staunton Mayor Lacy B. King, Jr.

Construction on Phase I of the multi-phase project will begin in early June and will include upgrades on the first and second floors of Pearce. Improvements to the second-floor classroom and adjoining lab are scheduled for completion by the time students will return to class in the fall. Project planners aim to have the renovated space ready for occupancy by early January 2012.

Funding for Phase I comes from a >$1.2 million National Science Foundation grant