(Cordley Hall on the Oregon State University campus. Date: August 21, 2013 | Photo by Theresa Hogue)
The Oregon State University (OSU) Board of Trustees on Friday approved spending nearly $277 million on seven remodeling, renovation and new construction projects on the university’s Corvallis and Bend campuses.
The projects include construction of a second academic building at OSU-Cascades; renovation of Cordley Hall, the university’s largest teaching and research building; remodeling of a recently purchased off-campus research building in Corvallis; and restoration of a major Corvallis campus research building that was damaged significantly in a fire last winter.
“We’re not building for building’s sake,” OSU President Ed Ray said. “The university is committed to advance student success, improve retention and graduation rates and sustain a pace of more than $400 million annually in grant-funded research. We must renovate and improve aging classrooms and research facilities – and build new classrooms and research labs — to achieve the university’s commitments to student learning, research innovation and problem solving.”
With approval by the board, the following projects will move from the design phase to construction phase:
- A $158.8 million renovation of Cordley Hall, a more than 235,000-square-foot research and education building built on OSU’s Corvallis campus in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Cordley Hall houses the departments of integrative biology, and botany and plant pathology. OSU is seeking to renovate the building through three phases with nearly $92 million in state support and $68 million in OSU funding. The state already has authorized $15 million in state bonding and $9.8 million in state capital renewal funds. OSU will seek further state support in the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions.
- A $50.2 million teaching and research building at OSU-Cascades in Bend. The 50,000-square-foot building will be the second academic building constructed on OSU’s new campus in Bend and will house classrooms, laboratories and offices. The building is being funded by $10 million in philanthropy; $39 million in approved state bond funds; and $1.2 million in student fees.
- A $9.5 million reconstruction of Burt Hall II, which incurred fire, smoke and water damage after a fire in December 2018. Insurance is expected to cover the cost of this project.
- An $11 million renovation of the Research Way Laboratory, a 103,200-square-foot building the university purchased in April 2018. The building, which is located about two miles west of the main Corvallis campus, will provide office and lab space for faculty, staff and graduate students displaced by the renovation of Cordley Hall and will become a dedicated future OSU research building.
- A campus operations center in Corvallis at 35th Street and Western Boulevard. The $26.5 million project includes renovating the former OSU Foundation building at this location for use as a campus operations center and adding shop buildings, equipment space and vehicle yards to the site. The project also includes funds to demolish current space used by the university’s facilities department located at Southwest 15th Street and Southwest Washington Way.
- Reconstruction of the Southwest Washington Way street corridor and several intersections between Southwest 15th and Southwest 35th The $24 million project includes improvements to the street, bikes lanes, sidewalks, safety enhancements and landscaping.
- A $6.5 million renovation of the western side of Cascade Hall for use as offices for OSU’s Department of Public Safety and the Navy ROTC center. The ROTC center will relocate from its present Quonset hut offices and facilities on campus due to improvements and widening of Southwest Washington Way and its right-of-way.
In other actions Friday, the board heard a presentation on the university’s annual report on advancing equity, inclusion and social justice. The report, compiled by the Office of Institutional Diversity, presented findings and recommendations in the following areas: graduate and undergraduate student recruitment; undergraduate student retention; employee recruitment; and faculty retention.
“Over the last two years, Oregon State University has taken significant steps to prioritize and advance the pursuit of inclusive excellence in all that it does,” Charlene Alexander, vice president and chief diversity officer, told the board.
Alexander said the university’s strategic efforts seek to improve the recruitment and retention of students and employees from underrepresented communities, and help support their success at OSU. She said the university’s efforts have been recognized nationally and are resulting in increased admissions applications from black students and increased diversity within the university overall. But Alexander said more attention by OSU needs to occur to recruit and retain more diverse faculty and staff.
The board also approved its annual assessment of Oregon State President Ed Ray. The trustees praised the work of the university and Ray over the past year and offered support for the goals that Ray said he would focus on in this academic year: progress toward the goals of Strategic Plan 4.0; preparations for the next university-wide fundraising campaign; securing funds during the legislative session in February; creating a seamless transition to the next president; and building community, developing a faculty union contract and promoting shared governance.
The board heard an update on Oregon State’s 2020 preliminary legislative priorities. These include securing approval for state bonds to help finance the construction for three projects: a student success center at OSU-Cascades; an Arts & Education Complex on the Corvallis campus; and the second phase of the Cordley Hall renovation project. The university also is seeking funds or supporting bills related to research associated with hemp, ocean acidification and hypoxia, campus hunger and innovation districts.
The board approved a resolution honoring Jock Mills, who will retire this fall after serving as OSU’s government relations director since 2000.
The board heard reports from the OSU Foundation, faculty senate, student body leaders in Corvallis and at OSU-Cascades and the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. As well, trustees leading the board’s efforts to recruit, interview and guide on-boarding of OSU’s next president gave reports. The board of trustees is engaged in a national search to replace Ray as president after he steps down on June 30, 2020, after leading OSU for 17 years.
The board received public testimony from three faculty and three members of the Corvallis community regarding faculty collective bargaining occurring and OSU’s plans to build a residence hall for upper division and graduate students on the eastside of campus.
The board conducted an executive session regarding labor negotiations at the end of its meeting on Friday.
In committee meetings held on Thursday, board committees:
- Received an update about lab safety efforts. OSU’s Environmental Health and Safety staff reported significant increases in lab safety, strengthened hazard assessments and research safety procedures; faster and more efficient removal of hazardous waste from labs; and better collaboration with laboratory staff.
- Heard a report on efforts by OSU to advance creation of a wave energy testing facility off the Oregon coast to the design development phase. The PacWave Energy Test Facility would be the nation’s first licensed, grid-connected facility for testing wave energy conversion devices.
- Received briefings on the university’s internationalization trends and strategy, as well as its trends and plans associated with recruiting, retaining and developing faculty.
- Heard annual and progress reports from the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance, as well as received the university’s annual compliance and ethics program report.
The board also held a retreat on Wednesday to discuss assumptions underlying the university’s ten-year business forecast and strategic plan; consider challenges and opportunities facing higher education and OSU over the next decade; and explore possible transformational strategies to address the most pressing issues that will affect the university.