Campaign Overview

The Board of Regents is proud to announce “Securing Our Academic Future,” a campaign for the construction of our new science building.

The state-of-the-art science education facility designed by Architerra, an architecture, community design, and development advisory firm dedicated to sustainable design and smart growth, is annexed to the east end of the Burden Classroom Building, extending from the Holy Lawn north toward the football field and track.

This new building features…

  • Seven laboratories
  • Seven classrooms
  • Faculty offices
  • A multi-purpose seminar room
  • A multi-story commons that serves as the crossroads between science and the humanities

As the largest single initiative in our history, this transformational project sets Portsmouth Abbey apart as a school that delivers an exceptional education in the sciences, in the humanities, and in all aspects of its unique curriculum, for generations to come.

Schools must give an adequate place in their curriculum for science or they will be erecting a wall between the old and great tradition they value so highly, and the intellectual life of the modern world. Dom Hugh Diman, 1942

The endeavor to build a new center for science represents something far greater than the construction of a new building on the Holy Lawn. In my view, it is a statement of strength as the School celebrates the 100th anniversary of the monastery and confidently looks ahead to the 100th year of its founding in 2026. Peter Kennedy ’64 P’07 ’08 ’15

Chair of the Science Building Steering Committee

The Case for Science

The aim of the Portsmouth Abbey School is to help young men and women grow in knowledge and grace. The study of science is fundamental to achieving this goal.

For today’s students, success depends on their ability to ask good questions, explore answers, risk failure, and learn from mistakes — all of which make up the core of the Portsmouth Abbey science program.

To continue this scientific process in a tradition consistent with the School’s mission, a new science building is a necessity.

Our current science facilities were not designed to support the number of students currently enrolled and the number of science classes each is taking, nor to accommodate today’s pedagogy, which includes expanded lab work and a significant emphasis on technology.

Since the current science building opened in the fall of 1965…

  • The average number of science classes taken per student has doubled from two to four
  • The student body has increased by over 60%
  • The science faculty has more than quadrupled
  • Exciting, new post-AP courses such as Green Chemistry and Advanced Topics in Physics require even more hands-on, laboratory-based learning
Designed as part of an architectural composition with the St. Thomas More Library and Burden Classroom Building, the new science building secures the academic future of the School with pedagogically informed science classrooms and laboratories that meet the demands of a flexible 21st century education. Ellen Watts

Principal architect for the project


Project Gallery

Our church and science building face the Holy Lawn. In one, we encounter the book of God’s word, and another, the book of God’s works. Portsmouth Abbey School is unique in that we present those two books in one story to our students. Dr. Michael Bonin

Dom Damian Kearney Chair in English

View Construction Progress

This building, and the work we do in it, is going to transform these kids. When they leave here they will be leaders and innovators. They are going to understand the science, the ethics behind the science we do, and they are going to be able to communicate it better than anyone else. It is a very exciting time to be at Portsmouth Abbey. Dr. Stephen Zins

Science Department Head


34,123 square foot science building attached to the east (monastery) end of the Burden Classroom Building with main entrance on the Holy Lawn

  • Meets LEED Gold design specifications
  • Exterior in harmony with Belluschi architectural idiom
  • Flexible-use interior which can evolve with curriculum

7 laboratories, 7 classrooms, faculty offices, multi-purpose seminar room, student project lab, Science & Humanities Commons, Science & Humanities Courtyard

42% increase in number of teaching spaces for all academic disciplines

133% increase in number of science classrooms

133% increase in number of laboratories

Cost: $20 Million

Opened January 4, 2019

This is an incredible academic initiative and perhaps the most important initiative in the School’s history because it will allow us to truly have an academic center at Portsmouth Abbey. Daniel McDonough



As of December 31, 2019, the campaign has raised $16.8 million of the $20 million needed to complete the new science building.
Our goal is to secure the remaining commitments needed to fund the project fully by December 31, 2019. Gifts at the following levels will help us to reach our goal.
Naming Opportunities are available for those wishing to make a leadership gift.
Please contact a member of the Science Building Steering Committee below if you would like to learn more about how you can join in the efforts to complete this transformational project.
Peter Kennedy ’64 P’07 ’08 ’15, Chair

Chris Behnke ’81 P’12 ’15 ’19

Devin McShane P’09 ’11

Emmett O’Connell P’16 ’17

Daniel McDonough, Headmaster

Matt Walter, Director of Development

Patty Gibbons, Assistant Director of Development

The monks of Portsmouth Abbey have given our lives to the work of Portsmouth Abbey School. We would be very happy if you will assist us, our board, and lay faculty in bringing this project to fruition. Abbot Matthew

This facility will change lives and you have the ability to cement that change; it will be forever. Chris Behnke ’81 P’12 ’15 ’19

Board of Regents Chair


Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

285 Cory’s Lane
Portsmouth, Rhode Island 02871-1352
phone: 401-643-1307
fax: 401-643-1377

Daniel McDonough, Headmaster

Matt Walter, Director of Development

Patty Gibbons, Assistant Director of Development


Donor Profile: Timothy Muccia ’87

In the fall of 1986, future Form IV student Tim Muccia was apprehensive about joining the Portsmouth Abbey community. He would be leaving behind a large, co-ed school for a small, all-boys Catholic boarding school two states away. Fortunately, the transition was...

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Donor Profile: Andy and Julie Wei P’20

Many parents and graduates often wonder how they can stay connected to their school if they are living far away. In the case of Andy and Julie Wei, “far away” from Portsmouth means roughly 7,000 miles in Beijing, China. That distance, however, does not keep them at...

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Donor Profile: John and Meg Dennis P’20 ’20

In the summer of 2016, John and Meg Dennis, along with daughters Meagan and Tessa, attended orientation for their local high school. Expectations were high, as the school has an excellent reputation and the girls were excited to begin high school. However, the school...

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Building in the Belluschi Tradition

In 2013, Portsmouth Abbey School’s Board of Regents selected architect Ellen Watts of Architerra in Boston, Massachusetts, to begin the conceptual design for what would eventually become plans for the School’s next major academic project – a state-of-the-art 21st-century science building. After considering no fewer than six possible locations on campus, including several stand-alone sites, Watts and the Board ultimately decided the ideal location for the new building would be the northeast corner of the Holy Lawn, adjacent to the existing Burden Classroom Building. The selection of this location made it necessary for the new building to be designed as part of the original campus architectural idiom established by Pietro Belluschi in the late 1950s. The following is a Q&A with Watts about this effort.

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