CORVALLIS, Ore. - Peter and Rosalie Johnson have committed $7 million to create a new educational and research facility in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

Leveraging an earlier $10 million gift from an anonymous donor, $3 million in additional private funds, and possible matching state funds, the planned $40 million building will address space needs for engineering faculty, lab space for interdisciplinary research, and a center focused on improved recruitment and retention of engineering students. Construction will rely on legislative approval of state bonds during this legislative session.

The facility could be in the design phase as early as this spring.

Over the past three years, student enrollment in the OSU College of Engineering has increased nearly 34 percent, and contract and grant awards for its faculty have increased nearly 30 percent. Home primarily to the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, the new facility will house interdisciplinary groups of students and faculty working to address important global problems that affect human health, energy and the environment. It will contribute significantly to economic growth in Oregon and the region, said Sandra Woods, dean of the college.

"Oregon State was instrumental in setting me on the right path," said Peter Johnson, a 1955 engineering alumnus whose Tekmax, Inc., company revolutionized battery manufacturing equipment. The Tangent, Ore., company was acquired in 2004.

"Oregon has a pressing need for innovation, and facilities like this new building can support collaborative research and hands-on learning for generations of OSU faculty and students," Johnson said.

Longtime supporters of the university, the Johnsons have made leadership gifts to all three priority areas of The Campaign for OSU: student scholarships, faculty support and facilities. Their contributions aided in the construction of the CH2M HILL Alumni Center and the Joe Schulein Computer Laboratory, created the endowed Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Engineering, and established a scholarship-internship program for students in engineering.

"This new building will help to revolutionize how Oregon State approaches collaborative projects involving scientists and students in engineering and other colleges in essential areas of study and discovery," said OSU President Edward Ray.

Ray, a noted economist, explained that Oregon's financial health relies heavily on the success of strong collaborative research initiatives. Last year, OSU's engineering faculty secured research grants and contracts totaling nearly $37 million. Companies spun off from college research earned more than half of the venture funding attracted by all Oregon businesses in the first half of 2010 - more than $57 million in all.

"Our college has gained tremendous momentum over the last decade," said Sandra Woods, who was appointed engineering dean in July, 2012. "We are building critical mass in terms of faculty, students and external funding to the point where truly groundbreaking multi-disciplinary work becomes possible, and one step forward leads rapidly to the next. The high-quality space provided by a new facility will spark the growth that brings the college to the next level."

Together with these gifts, donors to The Campaign for OSU have committed more than $200 million in support of facilities and equipment including engineering's Kearney Hall and the Kelley Engineering Center. The campaign provided donor support for 24 facility projects. Total campaign gifts crossed the $900 million mark toward the $1 billion goal, Ray said today at the State of the University address in Portland.

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Sandra Woods, 541-737-3601