May 7, 2014

The people’s hall

Students, faculty, community unite around new DSC building

By Christopher Smith

— Joining a biology honors society at Dalton State College didn’t come without some apprehension for Breann Campbell, she said.

“I went into it thinking this was possibly just something to build my resume,” the junior biology major said. “I was nervous and I really didn’t know what to expect.”

Now Campbell is president of Beta Chi Nu, the college’s chapter of the Tri-Beta National Biological Honor Society.

“I didn’t know I was going to get as involved as I’ve become,” she said, smiling. “It’s really the thing that has kind of opened me up.”

As much as Campbell says she’s grown as a person since joining the chapter, she said the college has grown even more, most notably with the addition of the Shelby and Willena Peeples Hall. The 58,000-square-foot, $15 million building on the Dalton State campus was the focus of a Wednesday afternoon ribbon cutting ceremony. Doors officially opened to three floors of classrooms and chemistry and biology laboratories that will be in full swing for summer classes.

The couple were honored through the naming of the building because of their philanthropy, college officials said, as well as their commitment to the college, including the largest gift from an individual in the history of the college. The amount of the gift was not disclosed.

“You know, just seeing the building, I didn’t know the significance of it as it was being built,” Campbell said. “I just thought it was another building where we could do science. But the technology they’ve installed and the labs and the space is really awesome.”

Faith Stokes, who is graduating from Dalton State on Friday, said the building is a “great opportunity” for biology majors. Stokes was president of Beta Chi Nu last year and is set to begin a doctorate program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“I could not find a program where undergraduates were given this kind of type of opportunity,” she said. “Dalton State students will now leave here with the degree and skills on their resume that graduate students in some of the top universities of the nation won’t even have.”

Students such as Campbell and Stokes are who the new building belongs to, Shelby Peeples said during the ceremony.

“A lot of work and a lot of effort has been put into this,” he said. “This hall — Peeples Hall — it’s got (our) name on it, but this building belongs to the people in the community, to the students.”

State Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, who attended the ceremony, said the building is “something this campus needed and something this community is entitled to and deserves.”

“And that doesn’t happen without individuals who say ‘I’ll join the team.’ And that’s what we celebrate today,” he said. “We celebrate Shelby and Willena Peeples being on that team.”

The couple are a testimony to giving, Scott Smith, a member of the Board of Regents that oversees public college operations in the state, said.

“Their commitment to this community is amazing,” he said. “This is where they were educated, grew up, married and raised a family, and started a successful business. That is what is honored today with the opening of this building.”

An open house for the new building will be on Sunday, May 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, call (706) 272-4436.