Ed Bass names new lecture hall for Yale’s O.C. Marsh

Edward P. Bass ’67 has made a major contribution toward a state-of-the-art, 500-seat lecture hall that will be a premier part of the new Yale Science Building, now under construction on Science Hill. The building and its lecture hall are part of an ambitious series of projects designed to transform Science Hill and make it a more integral part of the Yale campus.

Bass has requested that in recognition of his $10 million leadership gift, the lecture hall be named the O.C. Marsh Lecture Hall in honor of Othniel Charles (O.C.) Marsh, a pioneering professor of vertebrate paleontology at Yale — the first in the United States — and one of the founding figures of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. Marsh received a Bachelor of Arts from Yale College in 1860 and subsequently pursued graduate studies at Yale and several German universities.

“O.C. Marsh is widely remembered for his spectacular dinosaur discoveries in the 19th century, including many fossils on display at the Peabody, and his name is inextricably linked with the museum,” Bass said. “The O.C. Marsh Lecture Hall will be located a stone’s throw from the Peabody and, among other functions, it will be an important resource for the museum, hosting Peabody programs, events, teaching, and outreach. There will be Peabody displays and interpretative materials in the lobby. I want, through the O.C. Marsh name, for people to recognize the connection between the lecture hall and the Peabody.”

The lecture hall will be the largest on campus, include generous, multifunctional lobby space, and be adjacent to a spacious pavilion that is expected to be a magnet for students and faculty engaged in study and informal interactions. The hall will provide a new venue for some of Yale’s most popular and largest classes and special lectures. It comes at a time when the university has begun to expand the undergraduate student body and develop significant new facilities in the precincts of the campus north of Woolsey Hall. Featuring state-of-the-art technology, the hall will be used to host classes in the humanities and social sciences as well as science.

Portrait of O.C. Marsh by Rudolph Zallinger (Courtesy of Yale Peabody Museum)

“Not only will the O.C. Marsh lecture hall serve the Peabody and Science Hill, it will be a premier venue for departments from across the Yale Campus,” said Bass. “The multifaceted transformation of Science Hill now under way, together with the opening of the new colleges, will rebalance the center of gravity of the entire campus. No longer will undergraduates think of any particular part as remote and difficult to get to. It will become a more integrated whole.”

“Ed Bass has been a longtime benefactor and trusted adviser to the university. Through his bold and insightful leadership and extraordinary generosity, he has strengthened Yale in numerous ways,” said President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D. “I am deeply grateful that he has stepped forward once again with a gift that provides new momentum to this landmark project.”

Among the university’s most generous donors, Bass has directed much of his giving to the strategic development of Yale’s campus. He was a leading donor toward the construction of nearby Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges, which will open in August. On Science Hill, he was a major contributor to the Class of 1954 Environmental Science Center and to Kroon Hall. In addition to numerous other gifts supporting initiatives and programs across the university, he has advised extensively over two decades on campus planning efforts.

In addition, Bass has been an active volunteer, serving on the Yale Development Council, the Architecture Dean’s Council, the Peabody Leadership Council, and the FES Leadership Council, and as the founding chair of the External Advisory Board of the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies. He is a former Senior Fellow of the Yale Corporation and former chair of its Building and Grounds Committee, on which he still serves as an advisory member. 

A new hub for scientific innovation and collaboration

The Yale Science Building, conceived as an important new hub for the biological and physical sciences and now under construction on the site formerly occupied by J.W. Gibbs Laboratory, will advance the university’s continuing efforts to attract the world’s best talent while contributing to the larger science community. Work to demolish Gibbs Laboratory has been in progress since fall 2016, and excavation for the new, larger building is slated to begin this month. The facility will open in late fall 2019.

Building on the university’s strength in cross-disciplinary study, the Yale Science Building will advance research and discovery in areas that will have immediate and longer-term impacts on human health and wellbeing. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the seven-level structure will house the entire Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and part of the Department of Molecular Biophysics, and Biochemistry, offering laboratories and ample support space for staff and equipment. On the lower level, the Department of Physics will have specialized labs for vibration-free experiments.

Plans include the O.C. Marsh Lecture Hall and a two-story pavilion linking the Yale Science Building and Kline Biology Tower. The lower levels of the building will extend beneath the Kline Biology Tower plaza, with below-ground passageways to the other facilities on Science Hill, facilitating collaborative work among science departments.

“We have planned a building that combines modern laboratories with abundant spaces for interaction,” said Steven Girvin, deputy provost for research. “In an era when multidisciplinary teams tackle the most fundamental challenges in science, such a building will give Yale a distinctive edge in recruiting the best researchers and students.”

Other Science Hill facilities recently completed or under construction include the expansion and renovation of Sterling Chemistry Laboratory as a hub for undergraduate science teaching; the renovation of Wright Laboratory for research on neutrinos and dark matter; the expansion of the Center for Science and Social Science Information; and the renovation of Kline Biology Tower plaza.

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