The new facility will house classrooms, a lab and a data center
By MITCH LIES
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences has a new animal sciences teaching facility that provides state-of-the-art teaching and research opportunities.
A year-and-a-half in the making, the facility will open Oct. 8.
"This has to be one of the nicest facilities for animal and rangeland science students in the world," said John Killefer, head of the college's department of animal and rangeland sciences.
The Oldfield Animal Teaching Facility is part of a complex of animal science buildings the college is constructing west of the campus.
Included in the complex are four new buildings, including two additional structures the college hopes to have in place next fall: an agricultural systems management center, which will house a data center, farm shop and classrooms; and an animal metabolism laboratory, which is designed for research.
A fourth building, a commodity building designed primarily for storage, is expected to be completed in 2014.
The 17,000-square-foot teaching facility the college will unveil to the public Oct. 19, includes classrooms and laboratories and a 6,000-square-foot concrete floor arena. The arena, which is designed to facilitate stalls and bedding for housing animals, is separated from classrooms by four garage doors that slide open to provide students hands-on educational opportunities.
"We pride ourselves on the hands-on experience that we can provide our students," Killefer said. "These are going to be facilities that are going to allow us to hopefully enhance those opportunities.
"At the same time, we are also going to be having some improved and enhanced research capacities," he said.
"I want this department to be an example of a thriving, relevant and contemporary animal sciences program. And we are getting some of the infrastructure improvements that will allow us to do that," Killefer said.
The push for new facilities, long on the back burner, started in earnest a decade ago, Killefer said.
"There has been a quote floated around that, in many cases we are trying to do 21st Century science in, in some cases 19th Century facilities," Killefer said.
"(The old facilities) were outdated and insufficient, and in many cases, it would have cost more to upgrade the facilities than to just create new facilities," he said.
Originally administrators planned to construct one building to house the different needs of the department.
"Through discussions with stakeholder groups and different folks it changed from one building to four buildings," Killefer said. "I think it was a very wise decision to go with the separate facilities.
"It provides us more flexibility and probably better facilities than if we would have done this in just a single building," he said.
A steady increase in enrollment in the animal sciences program also drove the need for improved facilities, he said. Student enrollment has quadrupled in 20 years, increasing from 120 animal and rangeland science majors in the 1990s to nearly 500 today.
The college was able to secure about half of the funding for the complex, about $4 million, from private donations. The remaining $4 million is being funded with state bonds.
Killefer doesn't anticipate increasing the number of majors within animal and rangeland sciences.
"But the opportunities for students are going to be enhanced," he said.
"The new building has classrooms very conducive to lecture, and then you can open the garage doors and the animals are right there," he said.
"This provides us state of the art facilities right here on the main campus, so we can bring the animals to the students," he said.
Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences will host an open house at the Oldfield Animal Teaching Facility at Southwest 35th and Campus Way on Oct. 19.
The public portion of the ceremony begins at 3 p.m.