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Board Approves $70 Million for Arts, Education Complex at Oregon State

Tue June 29, 2021 - West Edition #14
OregonState. edu

The 49,000-sq.-ft. complex will include classrooms, offices, performance theaters and rehearsal rooms. It is expected to open in the 2022-23 academic year.
The 49,000-sq.-ft. complex will include classrooms, offices, performance theaters and rehearsal rooms. It is expected to open in the 2022-23 academic year.

The Oregon State University Board of Trustees unanimously approved construction of a new $70 million arts and education complex that will serve as a center for performing arts classes, programs and performances on the Corvallis campus.

A $25 million lead gift from an anonymous donor, along with $10 million in other philanthropic gifts and $35 million in state of Oregon-paid bonds, will finance construction of the complex.

"This arts and education complex will be a transformative addition to Oregon State University, the Willamette Valley and all of Oregon," said OSU President F. King Alexander. "The complex will serve as a center of creativity and will fuse programs in music, theater, visual and digital arts and technology. This center is integral to the university's land grant outreach mission and will help bring the arts to all Oregonians through education, performances and community engagement. We thank our donors, Governor Kate Brown and Oregon legislators for their support in helping make the dream of this arts complex soon become a reality."

The 49,000-sq.-ft. complex will include classrooms, offices, performance theaters and rehearsal rooms. It is expected to open in the 2022-23 academic year.

The board also accepted a report detailing the university's 10-year business forecast. Projections show that a commitment to funding renovations and capital renewal projects and pursuing enrollment initiatives that generate net revenue will allow the university to maintain a healthy financial position even with the impacts of the pandemic.

"Looking ahead, while challenged by the pandemic, we forecast fewer short-term financial issues facing the university beginning in fiscal year 2024," Alexander said. "We will take nothing for granted, however. We will continue to focus on managing and reducing the overall costs of the university; growing enrollment to provide for access to excellent higher education; and developing new programs that serve the university's land grant mission of teaching, research and outreach, and contribute to financial stability."

Additional Construction

The board also approved moving ahead to renovate two buildings on the Corvallis campus: $16.35 million for Fairbanks Hall, the second oldest building on the Corvallis campus that includes classrooms, offices and gallery space serving the College of Liberal Arts; and $6 million for Graf Hall, which houses the College of Engineering's robotics program.

The Fairbanks Hall renovation will improve teaching, learning and gallery spaces and update seismic, access and HVAC systems to meet current code requirements. The Graf Hall renovation will expand facilities for the Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute and upgrade bathrooms and mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.

The board heard a briefing on planning related to the state land board's December 2018 request that OSU explore with the Department of State Lands the potential transformation of part of the 91,000-acre Elliott State Forest into a state research forest that OSU's College of Forestry would manage. During the state land board's December 2020 meeting, university leaders presented a proposal for the research forest developed in collaboration with the Department of State Lands and an advisory committee of stakeholders.

Following OSU's presentation, the state land board, which is made up of Oregon's governor, secretary of state and state treasurer, voted unanimously to affirm its intention to decouple the Elliott State Forest from the Common School Fund and transfer management of the forest to OSU for a research forest. The state land board also directed the Department of State Lands to continue working with OSU and the advisory committee to finalize various elements of the proposal.

Provost and Executive Vice President Edward Feser and College of Forestry Dean Tom DeLuca, who briefed the board of trustees on OSU's proposal, said OSU's management of the Elliott as a research forest is a unique opportunity to demonstrate how to integrate forest management, watershed protection, environmental and climate research, habitat protection, recreational use and timber production for the long-term benefit of Oregonians.

"It is worth noting that no other state nationally has an 82,000-acre research forest serving this research and practical need," Feser said.

Feser and DeLuca indicated that they would continue to provide the OSU board updates on the university's planning related to the Elliott. They said the plan would emphasize research outcomes, shared goals achieved with stakeholders and assurances of financial sustainability that would not place the university at risk.

"We are very cautious in evaluating this opportunity," said Alexander. "It will take time to work out the details."

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