CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University in July is typically populated by research faculty, part-time students and camp attendees, but this summer it is construction workers, contractors and engineers who are ubiquitous from one end of campus to the other.

Despite the slow economy, OSU has an eye-opening $168 million in construction projects under way -  primarily for academic buildings and the student experience - reflecting a successful private fund-raising campaign, student fee support, state deferred maintenance and seismic upgrade funding, and strategic investments by the university.

Not only is the construction helping OSU keep pace with its planned growth, officials say, it is creating a lot of jobs.

"Considering the economy, this amount of construction is kind of amazing," said Mark McCambridge, OSU's vice president for finance and administration. "At any given time, we might have one major building project under way, and several smaller projects. This summer we have close to a dozen major projects. It's a bit hectic - but it's a nice problem to have."

The two biggest ticket items are the $62.5 million Linus Pauling Science Center and the $52 million INTO-OSU Living Learning Center. Construction is just beginning on two other new facilities - the $10 million Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, and a $7.75 million Outdoor Recreation Complex.

Other parts of the university are receiving long-awaited deferred maintenance and/or seismic improvements. Nash Hall, which houses the departments of fisheries and wildlife and microbiology, is in the midst of a $14 million deferred maintenance and seismic upgrade, and Education Hall is about to undergo a $12 million exterior renovation and seismic upgrade.

Still other buildings are undergoing significant makeovers. Arnold Dining Hall is getting a major $3.5 million renovation; Poling residence hall, a $2 million renovation; and the venerable McAlexander Fieldhouse will sport new multi-sport indoor courts, a climbing wall, and classroom space.

The funding sources for the construction are as varied as the projects themselves. Major private gifts are matching state funds to support the Linus Pauling center and the Hallie Ford center. A grant of $20 million from the Wayne & Gladys Valley Foundation, a gift of $10.65 million from Pat Reser and her late husband, Al, and other donations are covering half of the construction costs for the $62.5 million Linus Pauling Science Center, which is the largest academic building project in the university's history.

The Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families is also a public/private partnership, with $5 million from the state and $5 million from noted philanthropist Hallie Ford, who died at the age of 102 shortly after making a $8 million gift to help fund the new facility and create an endowed position for the center's director.

Student incidental fees are paying for the $7.75 million Outdoor Recreation Complex and a $3.75 million McAlexander Fieldhouse makeover. State funds are supporting many of the seismic and renovation projects.

OSU also is investing $6.85 million in itself by reallocating research funds that supported several five-year initiatives. The university is funneling that money into classroom renovations in several buildings - Agricultural and Life Sciences, Gilfillan, Graf, Milam, Milne, Weniger and Withycombe halls - that will help support the university's growing enrollment. Those improvements are in the design phase and should begin next summer.

"Through strategic planning, stewardship of resources, and entrepreneurialism, the university is able to continue moving forward," McCambridge said.

All of the construction is creating plenty of jobs, too, OSU officials say. By next month, the Linus Pauling Science Center project and the INTO-OSU Living Learning Center will each have 80 to100 workers on site on a daily basis, according to Lori Fulton, an architect working with OSU's Facility Services. Many additional workers are employed at other construction sites.

The construction and growth looks like it will continue into the near future, Fulton pointed out. The U.S. Forest Service will begin renovating its facility later this year to accommodate relocation of the Siuslaw National Forest office to campus; the $14 million Student Success Center will begin construction in spring of 2011; a major new building is on tap for the College of Business; the design phase has been completed for a new Native American Cultural Center, and construction will begin in the next several months for a multi-million dollar animal pavilion.

Much of the private support has been generated through The Campaign for OSU, which has raised more than $585 million toward a goal of $625 million. Of that total, $138 million is supporting construction and renovation projects across campus. In addition to the current projects, campaign donors also have supported the Kelley Engineering Center, Kearney Hall, the ONAMI/MBI facility, the Student Success Center, the Animal Sciences Pavilion, the Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and significant enhancements to Gill Coliseum, Goss Stadium and Reser Stadium.

A list of the major projects now under way at OSU is listed below:

Major Construction Projects at Oregon State University

  • Linus Pauling Science Center: This $62.5 million facility will house OSU's Linus Pauling Institute, chemistry programs in the College of Science, educational laboratories, a 180-seat auditorium classroom, and research space. It is funded by $31.25 million in private gifts, led by the Wayne & Gladys Valley Foundation and OSU graduates Pat Reser and her late husband, Al, and $31.25 million in matching funds from the state. (Completion date: Summer 2011)
  • INTO-OSU Living Learning Center: This $52 million residence hall and living center being constructed on the south end of campus will house approximately 350 international and domestic students and provide space for INTO-OSU staff and faculty offices and classrooms, and include a coffee shop and convenience store. It is funded by bonds, which will be paid through resident fees. (Completion date: Fall 2011)
  • Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families: This $10 million center, funded through a gift of $5 million from noted Oregon philanthropist Hallie Ford shortly before her death, and $5 million in matching funds from the state, will be a focal point for research and education in the College of Health and Human Sciences related to healthy children and families. Hallie Ford also provided $3 million to create an endowed directorship for the center. (Completion date: Summer 2011)
  • OSU Outdoor Recreation Complex: This $7.75 million project, funded entirely by student incidental fees, was voted on and supported by students. It will create a 600,000-square-foot complex of synthetic turf multi-sport fields, new tennis courts, a jogging track, an outdoor basketball court and a recreation plaza adjacent to Dixon Recreation Center. (Completion date: Fall 2010)
  • Various renovations and upgrades:
    • Nash Hall: $14 million in deferred maintenance and seismic upgrades (Completion: Winter 2010)
    • Education Hall: $12 million in seismic upgrades and exterior renovation (Completion: Fall 2011)
    • Arnold Dining Hall: $3.5 million renovation (Completion: Fall 2010)
    • Poling Hall: A $2 million renovation of the residence hall (Completion: Fall 2010)
    • McAlexander Fieldhouse: $3.75 million renovation (Completion: Late Fall 2010)
    • Other improvements: $400,000 for new sidewalks to better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (Completion: Summer 2010)
    • Classroom renovations: Interior renovations to Hovland and Waldo halls, as well as various offices and laboratories across campus. An additional $6.85 million in improvements to campus classrooms is in design.

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Lori Fulton, 541-737-4625