News - McHenry County

McHenry County College ready to open state-of-the-art science facility

Liebman Science Center features illuminated astronomy window

McHenry County College is set to open the new Liebman Science Center, pictured Friday in Crystal Lake.

McHenry County College is about to open its new Liebman Science Center, a state-of-the-art facility catering to students pursuing careers in biology, physiology, chemistry, health care and astronomy.

Classes in the 40,867-square-foot facility begin Aug. 20, the first official day of the fall semester. There is more than 22,000 square feet of classroom and lab space. An invitation-only preview of the center will be held this week.

The center cost $17,119,048. The project was funded by three primary sources: private donations (41 percent); a student infrastructure fee (47 percent); and college budget contributions (12 percent), according to the college.

“Our board, the foundation, our students and so many generous donors have all joined forces to provide the resources to build the Liebman Science Center,” college President Clint Gabbard said in a statement. “Now, we get to do our part, to fill up these science labs and classrooms with students and, in turn, to inspire these students. We also are excited about inviting community members, school-age children, retirees and many other groups to be inspired here as well.”

Gabbard said education is “a pathway to achieving work and professional goals, and for lifting up families in our communities,” and that the multimillion-dollar building will “truly be a great place to learn.”

The center includes space for the following: biology courses, for majors and nonmajors; anatomy and physiology courses; a cadaver lab; physics courses; chemistry courses; earth science courses, meteorology courses; and astronomy courses in the planetarium. Pre-engineering coursework also will be taught in there.

“Most students – even those who do not major in one of the sciences or pursue further health careers education – will still take at least a course or two in the sciences and be immersed in the center’s environment,” said Christina Haggerty, vice president of marketing, communications and development, in a statement.

Also in the center are several learning spaces that will be used for both science coursework and general coursework, depending on space needs of the college. These spaces include two lecture halls and one resource laboratory.

The building’s planetarium window displays one of the first Hubble telescope images of a galaxy and stars, including nebula clouds of new, forming stars. The window will be illuminated at night.

The two-story center, which is connected by a corridor to the north of Building E at 8900 Route 14, also is on track to become a LEED Silver-certified building, with features dedicated to energy savings, water efficiency, emissions reduction and indoor environmental quality.


After years of debate and analysis, the McHenry County College Board of Trustees came to the conclusion that the college’s existing science facilities were outdated and students needed something better.

In 2016, after a negative response from potential donors, the MCC board backtracked on a proposed $34 million expansion that was approved with a split vote in February of that year.

Construction started in May 2017 after the board approved about $17 million.

The building was named the Liebman Science Center in recognition of a $5 million donation from local resident Charles Liebman and his family.