The Prophet Aquatic Research and Outreach Center is being built north of Emporia State, next to King Lake and campus woods. PAROC will have more than just a few classrooms and laboratory spaces for students.
PAROC is named after Carl Prophet, an alumni and retired professor in the biology department. Prophet, retired in 1996, taught many science courses during his 40-year career. Three and a half years ago, the PAROC project began.
“It’s exciting,” Prophet said. “I would never would have thought anything like that would have happened for me.”
Prophet used a double-wide trailer mobile home near the Art Annex as the laboratory space for aquatic biology, said Brent Thomas, Dean of the Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The mobile home eventually began to deteriorate, with the floors rotting out. ESU removed the mobile home about five years ago.
“But that kind of left a big hole,” Thomas said. “All of our faculty that were here at that time, now they have instead of a poor laboratory space, they have no laboratory space.”
Tim Clark, ESU’s architect, designed the building. He has been in the industry for 35 years and has been practicing for decades. PAROC’s design was different than what Clark is used to.
With PAROC located in a flood-plane, Clark designed the building to be elevated seven and a half feet up in the air.
“I’ve never had to run across that, then finding a case study or an example of anything like that was not available for me,” Clark said. “I kind of had to make things up for how we’re going to design that.”
PAROC will be a one-story building, with loose structures in the building to adapt to any event held. Any event from conferences, classrooms, weddings and graduation parties could be hosted at PAROC.
“This will really open the doors to a lot of experimental possibilities that just weren’t possible in the past,” Thomas said.
In addition to having no laboratory space, the biology department started an ESU Biology Camp for third through sixth graders about nine years ago. All of the money is donor funded from ESU alumni, said Thomas.
The aquatic research emphasizes the need for the students and faculty at ESU to conduct research. The outreach center goes further to be a multi-purpose center for anyone in the region, community and ESU. The Art and Music Departments have also shown interest in photography and drawing lessons during certain units and an outdoor concert on the deck.
“We may have classes like some of our biology labs,” Thomas said. “They may want to schedule a classroom for one week.”
PAROC will have a wall in the middle of the building that holds an aquarium, a deck, a chair-lift accessible elevator from the ground to the deck level and an accessible parking lot, attributed Clark. Prophet hopes that PAROC will also bring an expansive interest in aquatic life too.
“I can’t begin to describe why it’s so exciting to me,” Prophet said. “When they think of aquatic life, they’re thinking of frogs and fish. That’s just a very tiny part of the critters that live there.”
PAROC’s completion depends on the weather. If the weather cooperates, PAROC could be completed Summer 2020 and be in operation by Fall 2020, attributed Thomas.
Thanks to ESU’s alumni, students will have a laboratory space plus more to accommodate more people in the community.