HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN, Brattleboro Reformer

PUTNEY -- Landmark College has received a $2 million gift, the largest single gift in the school’s history, and the college hopes to begin construction on a new $10 million science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, center in the spring.

The 28,500-square-foot STEM center will be the first new academic building added to the Landmark College campus since the school opened in 1985.

"There is a huge untapped pool of very bright young learners eager to help society in high tech fields, but due to learning disability challenges they do not often find the right college environment," said Landmark College President Peter Eden. "This building will be the epicenter for teaching, learning, research and inquiry on the Landmark campus."

Landmark College is a two- and four-year college that specializes in teaching students with learning disabilities.

The college hopes to begin construction in the spring, and expects to open the new research center in August 2015, before the start of the academic year.

The new STEM research center will be built at the head of the college’s quad and will include life science labs, classrooms, state-of-the-art computer science and gaming stations.

The two-story building will also include a conference room and offices and resources for the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training, which provides professional development for educators working with students who have learning disabilities.

Landmark College has been working on its $10 million capital campaign to build the new science center and Eden said the $2 million gift allowed the school to move ahead with the plan this year.

Landmark is still raising money for the project, but will borrow the capital it needs to move the plans forward.

The $2 million grant came from the Tambour Foundation.

Landmark alumna Nicole Goodner MacFarlane, who attended the Putney college from 1996 to 1998, helped secure the foundation grant.

Trustees of the MacFarlane family’s foundation approached the Tambour Foundation, a small, private charitable foundation that focuses on educational institutions.

The new science center will be named for MacFarlane, who now lives with her husband and two children in Dallas.

"The (science, technology and innovation) center will solidify Landmark’s position as the leader in education and research for the benefit of students with learning disabilities and other academic challenges and will afford them the same wonderful opportunities that I experienced as a student," MacFarlane said in a press release. "Establishing the (science, technology and innovation) center will establish a new era of growth for Landmark."

"Receiving this grant has been great for Landmark on many levels," Eden said. "Having this grant come from a former student demonstrates the lasting transcendent power of Landmark College."

Eden said the new science center will fit in with the other buildings designed by Edward Durell Stone on the former Windham College campus.

Landmark College has been trying to raise the capital for a new science center for a number of years, Eden said. After he was hired as Landmark’s president in May 2011 he revisited the project, had new drawings done and renewed the school’s push to raise money for the building.

Every Landmark student is required to take science and math classes and the STEM research center will be used by just about every student who attends Landmark.

"This will be an important building for the whole community," Eden said. "It is going to be beautiful and functional, and it will allow us to run summer STEM camps. It is a very big step for Landmark College."